Every parent dreads having to go through a strenuous court case when it comes to agreeing upon custody and asset division. It is only natural that people would want to avoid the court for a matter such as this – the stress, expense and time can take both parents away from their children, for example.
Though it may take some level of mediation, most Australians manage to effectively navigate these issues after their relationship ends without needing to present them before a judge. Here are the practical solutions to the legal issues surrounding the end of your relationship.
One of the main forms of mediation after a relationship ends is Family Dispute Resolution. This is primarily to do with parenting and provides a space for each side to openly discuss the problems at hand – while keeping the focus squarely upon what is best for their children.
Family Dispute Resolutions are compulsory before anything can go to court; you can solve nothing if the first point of call is a lengthy case. Sometimes, the easiest path forward is to attempt negotiations and try to find a happy balance. Everything discussed is confidential and cannot form part of a case unless it relates to child abuse.
With the growth and successful development of at least one child being a factor in this, everyone must work to achieve the best result. If petty arguments get in the way even at this stage, it makes court far more likely. A failed resolution results in a Section 60I Certificate, which lets the dispute go to court.
You can theoretically have an informal agreement without proper documentation, and some couples can agree upon dividing their assets. However, either side can challenge this without documentation, which could spiral into a court case. A simple disagreement or a changed mind is all it would take to throw the entire arrangement into chaos.
For this reason, we recommend you compile a substantial financial agreement with the help of a legal professional. This details how to divide everything and could take the form of a pre-nuptial agreement, perhaps at the start of a relationship. A pre-nuptial agreement can provide solid backing for couples to know what they are entitled to if the relationship comes to an end.
It is not uncommon to create a financial agreement at the end of a relationship – these are equally valid. It may be tougher to negotiate at this stage, but a result that everyone can agree upon will still be just as legally binding.
A consent order can apply to either parenting or property and is typically a way to formalise the informal agreements and negotiations. It is assessed and approved by the court but does not come at the end of a court case – this makes it an efficient way to speed up proceedings. The main difference between financial consent orders and financial agreements is that the court does not approve the latter, though it still has legal grounding.
Once again, you should seek legal counsel when deciding upon a consent order – you need full law advice to navigate them in a way that is fair to you. These orders are filed at the Family Court of Australia.
If you are at the end of a relationship and struggling to split assets and childcare, it can help to know the court is not the only option. Linda Emery & Associates has worked tirelessly for decades to help uncoupled families across the Central Coast understand their rights both inside and outside the courtroom. If you need legal advice to help navigate these common issues, feel free to contact us today.