Making the decision to file for divorce is never easy. It takes a lot of thought, energy, and emotion. And, in practice, it’s a situation that can be fraught with challenges.
While it’s not necessarily a requirement to work with a lawyer during this time, engaging the services of an experienced family lawyer helps to reduce the stress and heartache of the divorce process.
Here are our top five reasons you need a family lawyer, particularly when seeking guidance and support during your separation and divorce.
1. You’ll know what to expect
In many cases, you and your partner won’t have any prior experience with divorce. It’s all unknown—and the unknown can be daunting. This uncertainty can make the whole process seem even more overwhelming.
By engaging a qualified solicitor for your divorce, you get peace of mind that you’ll be guided through the process. You can take confidence that you’ve got an independent expert by your side, who’ll talk you through what to expect, and provide advice at every stage.
Your family divorce lawyer will help you to demystify the process, and provide much-needed reassurance that the process is on the right track.
2. It minimises the time, cost, and stress involved
The process for divorce isn’t a quick one.
First, you need to have been separated for 12 months. You then need to access the Commonwealth Courts Portal to file your application for divorce.
While it may sound reasonably straightforward, in practice, it’s a bumpy road to navigate. There are rules and complexities that, if they aren’t approached in the right way, can mean your application gets rejected—and your divorce is delayed. It can be drawn-out and add stress to an already unsettling time.
By engaging a trusted family lawyer, you’re able to take the administrative burden of the divorce process off your shoulders. They will manage the process from start to finish, ensuring it runs smoothly and minimising any delays. They know what’s required to make sure your divorce application doesn’t run into any roadblocks.
Your time is freed up to focus your energy on managing your emotional wellbeing, and that of your family, while you leave the actual divorce process to someone who’s familiar with the process.
After all, it’s their job—not yours.
3. You understand your rights
The majority of people entering into divorce proceedings are likely to be unaware of their full rights and responsibilities. Tapping into a lawyer’s expertise means you’ll know where you stand and what you’re entitled to, allowing you to best protect your interests.
Your family lawyer will offer practical, yet accurate, advice that helps you make more informed choices. They’ll make sure you understand what a just or fair outcome looks like in your specific circumstances, so you know what you should be aiming for.
Knowledge is power, so by simply understanding where you stand, and what rights you hold, you’re far more prepared to tackle the process of a divorce, no matter what comes your way.
4. Easily manage acrimonious situations
When applying for a divorce, a separated couple can complete a Joint Application, or a single party can file a Sole Application. Filing a Sole Application results in the need for the initiating party (the Applicant) to officially ‘serve’ the other party with the relevant divorce documents.
Where the divorce is a bitter or difficult one, a family lawyer can act as a buffer between the two parties, and reduce any potential clashes.
They can be the ones to ‘serve’ the divorce documents, enabling the Applicant to remain at arms’ length. If the other person contests the divorce, a family lawyer can manage the process—potentially even avoiding the situation from occurring altogether.
Their role is to manage the situation on behalf of the Applicant and ensure both parties get the best outcome for their situation.
5. You may avoid the need to go to court at all
A Divorce Order represents the administrative termination of the marriage and leaves you free to remarry when you’re ready.
The process itself, though, involves a lot of complexity. You must make critical decisions around the division of assets, spousal maintenance, and managing custody arrangements for children under 18 years of age. And coming to these decisions involves tapping into other processes that are quite distinct from the original divorce application.
Determining the entitlements of each party is different for every relationship and will vary depending on the unique circumstances of every couple.
Ideally, these matters can be resolved through a combination of discussion, mediation, and negotiation, without the need to go through the slow and expensive court system. Working with a family lawyer for your divorce, mediation and negotiations can streamline your entire process. This is particularly valuable when you’re struggling to agree on what the terms of your separation look like.
Your family lawyer can provide advice and guidance around the complexities of family law and make it easy to understand your legal entitlements, so you can accelerate the time it takes to reach an agreement.
Managing division of assets
And when it comes to the division of your assets, your family lawyer can work with you to draw up a Consent Order or a Binding Financial Agreement—a vital step that ensures the long-term protection of your assets and finances in the future.
- A Consent Order is a written document stating the agreement you have reached with your former partner for the division of assets and parenting orders. Once finalised, the documents are filed with the court, which then considers whether the terms of the agreement are ‘just and equitable and in the children’s best interests if parenting orders are sought.
- A Binding Financial Agreement is a private written agreement that also sets out the agreements reached between separated couples. The significant difference is that each party must obtain independent legal advice from my lawyer, or the agreement is not binding on the parties.
Your family lawyer helps to ensure that any property settlement and division of assets is legally binding.
Without a Binding Agreement, one party could change their mind further down the track about how you agreed to split your assets. In particularly nasty circumstances, they could even end up making a claim against the assets their former spouse might acquire in the years after separation.
If any dispute does occur, your family lawyer can help to identify the assets each party legally holds and then negotiate the terms of the property settlement. If a mutually agreeable settlement still can’t be reached, it may be necessary to hand these decisions over to the courts, and your solicitor can represent you in any family court proceedings.
Managing custody of dependent children
Many couples are perfectly capable of working together on a parenting plan outlining how their children will be cared for going forward. And in many cases, this can occur without the input from, or even the need for, a lawyer.
But in circumstances where collaboration just isn’t possible, a family lawyer can get involved and manage the custody mediation on your behalf. Your lawyer can work with you to negotiate a parenting plan, and should the situation escalate, they can even Family Dispute Resolution measures and court proceedings.
We know that divorce is never an easy process, so it’s important to make sure you’re prepared.
So if you’re trying to decide whether a family lawyer is right for your situation, give Sydney Law Group a call on (02) 8819 4399 for a free phone consultation. We’ll work with you to understand your situation, and provide you with the guidance and peace of mind that you’re making the right choice for your family, and your future. We are always on your side.