Separating? Get the facts early!

When a relationship ends many people put off obtaining formal legal advice about property settlement and children’s issues because:

  • it seems too overwhelming in the midst of the uncertainty, stress and trauma of the relationship break-up;
  • they are concerned about how much they might pay in legal fees;
  •  there can be a perception that going to a lawyer to get legal advice and assistance signifies that things are “getting nasty” and may cause their ex-partner to become angry and uncooperative (or angrier and more uncooperative).

In fact obtaining legal advice about your options, legal rights and obligations as early as possible is very important  in assisting to reduce costs and generally helping parties reach a quicker resolution.  How?

  1. You Don’t Waste Time on Myths                                                                                                       Having accurate information regarding your options, legal rights and obligations allows you to avoid wasting time  on arguments and negotiations based on incorrect assumptions about the law and entitlements. Common misunderstandings include:
    • the assumption that each party to a marriage is automatically entitled to a fifty/fifty division of the matrimonial property pool;
    • that children who are over twelve years old can decide which parent they wish to live with; and
    • that each parent is automatically entitled to have the children of the relationship living with them in an equal shared care arrangement.

2. Know the Process

  •  Having a clear idea of the legal steps that need to be taken to formalise your agreement or to have matters decided by a Court means you can take the appropriate steps to progress your matter to formal dispute resolution such as a mediation or to having a court decision;
  • You won’t spend months in fruitless discussion before realising that there were dispute resolution services you could have accessed and that there is a process you must follow to progress resolution of a family law matter through the Court system.

3. Protect Yourself Early and Save Trouble Later                                                                  

  • You will be advised of steps you might need to take to protect your own personal and financial interests;
  • You can take steps to ensure that assets that fall into the joint property pool are not sold off or spent by the other party without your agreement;
  • You will be advised whether it is necessary to change your Will and Enduring Power of Attorney and beneficiary nominations on superannuation and life insurances.

4. Reality Test

  • Obtaining legal advice about your rights and obligations regarding family law matters often provides a very useful objective reality test for your own perceptions and expectations as well as those of your ex-partner.  This helps you to have realistic negotiations and know when discussions are just not progressing matters.

Having accurate information about your legal rights and obligations puts you in a strong position to have proper negotiations with your ex-partner and to make informed decisions about proposed agreements regarding property settlement and children’s matters.

Contact our experienced solicitor Alicia Schubert if you would like more information regarding family law property settlement and/or children’s issues matters.

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