Separation is not fun. Life as you know it may no longer exist, and your world can be turned upside down in an instant. Everything that was certain and stable suddenly looks quite different.
Calm heads and logic are sometimes overtaken by emotions which can make a difficult process even longer and more arduous.
The good news is that with a little effort, family law settlements can be amicable, even if you and your former partner do not necessarily agree on everything.
Sometimes, parties simply cannot agree. Everything from the factual history of the relationship and the value of assets to the arrangements for the children, child support and spousal maintenance payments are in dispute.
The cost of litigation can be exorbitant. The backlog in the Family Court system means that the parties cannot move on with their lives while they wait for their matter to be heard.
Susan and David cannot agree on anything. They dispute facts and figures, and file multiple interim applications in the Family Court. Every step of the way, they argue about procedure. They wait in limbo for over 3 years before the Family Court determines their matter. Each spends more in legal fees than they end up actually receiving, and feel defeated and bitter which affects their daily lives. Their children are now adults and have a poor relationship with their parents. Susan and Michael wish they had done things differently.
When parties focus on winning or getting the upper hand, they often miss opportunities to settle. The become enmeshed in the battle rather than focusing on the end result.
Narrowing the issues
Even if you disagree on things, you can still agree on the pathway to reach a resolution.
You don’t necessarily need to be 100% amicable. In fact, many parties who reach an amicable agreement are not on good terms socially. However, if they both act reasonably and focus on the issues, they can save themselves a lot of time, stress and money.
Jane and Michael have a house together. Their estimates of its value are about $200,000 apart. They agree to jointly appoint a single expert valuer to determine the value for them. Within a few weeks, they have an agreed value to work with. Jane and Michael saved themselves several months and many thousands of dollars in legal fees by not arguing the point in the Family Court.
By agreeing to disagree then working out a strategy to resolve the impasse, parties can save themselves stress and avoid unnecessary legal fees.
Getting to an agreement
You might still disagree on the end result, but you have worked together to reach a consensus on as much as possible.
There are still many options to reach an amicable agreement. Parties and their lawyers can continue negotiations, or they might attend a mediation and negotiate a deal.
Sam and Tessa mostly agree on the value of their assets but have different views about how they will be divided. They cannot agree about arrangements for their children but are willing to discuss other options. They set aside a day to meet with their lawyers and a mediator and come up with an arrangement that suits their needs. Neither is ecstatic with the outcome, but are happy that their financial futures are secured and satisfied that their children’s best interests will be met. Both feel positive about the future and are relieved they did not have to drag things out for many years in the court.
It takes work to get to this point. Parties need to keep a level head and be willing to consider alternative solutions. Co-operation is the key, and being able to look beyond the immediate frustrations to see the overall picture. Sometimes it is not always possible, but it is important to make every effort to stay on track.
Whether your separation is amicable or contested, you need to get the very best advice. Perth family law firm Leach Legal are experienced in making the separation process as smooth as possible and will support and guide you every step of the way. Speak to one of our lawyers today by calling 08 9486 9733 to secure your free 15-minute initial telephone consultation.