Top 3 Mistakes People Make in Family Law Matter
When a couple decides to separate, many people typically go through a period of adjustment where feelings of confusion, fear and uncertainty may arise and which needs to be dealt with before they can begin a new life without their former partner. At times, the separation may have been caused by feelings of resentment towards their former partner that remains unresolved.
Dealing with family separation is challenging and our Family and Divorce lawyers at Chatswood Family Lawyers understand that having to consider the legal implications arising from the separation would be the last thing you need. With that said, it is important to note that your actions during your separation may have consequences on your legal rights.
In this article, we highlight the most common mistakes that our family and divorce lawyers have encountered which may ultimately affect your rights (and possibly your money) in the long run:
1. Publicly oversharing your thoughts and opinions
Whilst ranting on social media about your partner may be a way for you to relieve your heated emotions at that point in time, publicly sharing your negative thoughts and opinions about your partner and/or children may be injurious to your case in the long run.
This is especially pertinent if you are seeking to pursue a case for the custody of your children in Court. You should always presume that all social media posts, emails and texts messages that resolve around your relationship are accessible to a Judge and if presented to them, it will reflect badly on you and may raise doubts as to whether you may be the parent who has the best interests of the child at heart.
2. Involving your children in your family law matter
In short, it is never right to involve your children in the process of your separation. For children, the knowledge that you and your spouse are separating is already an unsettling experience. It is well documented throughout literature that parental separation is linked to increased risks of the children developing mental health problems,
problems with their relationships, feelings of conflict and frustration, and lack of communication.
Throughout the years, our Family and Divorce Lawyers have unfortunately observed that at least one parent will try to involve their children one way or another in the separation on many occasions. Some of the methods used by the parents are:
1. Discussing the family law proceedings with the children and/or badmouthing and blaming the other parent to them;
2. Demanding a direct contribution to the separation process by asking the children to become the messenger between the parents; and
3. Manipulating and coaching the children to say certain things about the other parent to the Court Child Expert or the Family Consultant in order to sway the Court into believing they are the best parent for the children.
In any parenting proceeding, the Court looks favourably on the parent who may have the children’s best interests in mind. That is the Court’s paramount consideration. By involving the children, it may have detrimental effects on the emotional and/or psychological wellbeing of the child and in that regard, the Court will most likely consider those attempts by one of the parents to involve the children in the separation process against them and their custody case.
3. Hastily agreeing to settle or being unable to compromise
In Australia, 97% of family law matters between married and de facto couples are usually resolved before they reach the last stage of the Court process called the “final hearing”. Final hearings are when a matter proceeds to trial before a Judge who will determine the issues that have been unable to be resolved between the couple and their legal representatives (if any) for approximately two years. These hearings will vary in length depending on the complexity of the matter and they are usually extremely costly due to the amount of preparation involved.
With that in mind, it is understandable that people may prefer quietly settling the issues arising from their separation rather than dealing with the costs and emotional stress associated with pursuing pro-longed legal action. However, that is not to say that hastily agreeing to the terms proposed by your former partner or spouse is the right path to take, which may be for example, by simply agreeing to everything your former spouse or partner wants in return for one or two things which may leave you in a worse situation than when they first entered into negotiations.
Alternatively, it may be the case that the other partner is unwilling to compromise for numerous reasons including:
1. They believe that they are entitled to more assets and/or the children;
2. They are allowing their emotions about the other partner to rule their decisions and are unable to see the bigger picture; and
3. They have accepted advice from their friends and/or family who may have received legal advice for their own separations and believe that they are entitled to the same or more.
The family law process is designed to ensure that both parties are able to reach an equitable resolution to their dispute and to not allow one partner to be disproportionately restricted financially or on their ability to spend time with their children. There are various ways to attempt to reach an amicable agreement with your former partner or spouse without incurring significant legal costs to fight for your legal rights. For more information, see our previous article “How to Reach an Amicable Agreement with Your Former Partner”.
If you are looking to speak to an experienced Family and Divorce Lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact our Accredited Family Law Specialists at Chatswood Family Lawyers on (02) 9412 4500.