Everyone knows, now more than ever, that relationships affect our health and that court rooms do not promote positive relationships!
With the greatest of respect to the Judges of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, for almost everyone, going to Court is a negative experience that threatens your relationships and health.
The practical implications of going to court are relatively well known. Costs wise, you may be looking at some or all of the following:
- filing fees
- lawyers’ fees
- court fees
- subpoena fees
- witness fees
- independent valuer fees
- private mediation fees
- child expert fees
Time-wise, you are at the mercy of the court and it’s a very busy calendar. From start to finish, your matter could range anywhere from months to years. Even once you go to the final hearing, the Judge often will not deliver their decision straight away. Then there is also a much longer wait if there is an appeal.
Outcome wise, you may get a very different result from what you are hoping for. Litigation is a long process of information gathering, and it is usually not until right at the end of the process that everyone has the relevant information available to allow a proper assessment of your matter.
This means that if you have advice from your solicitor at the start of your matter based on only one side of the information, their advice is likely to be very different from what they would give if they had all the information from the start.
One way to avoid the Courts is to use Collaborative Practice to reach an agreement. Collaborative Practice is a process where the client’s control the costs, time and outcome. The essential element of a Collaborative matter is the contract signed by both people that records their agreement not to go to Court. This focuses everyone’s mind on reaching an agreement that suits both people.
This allows you and your advisors to come up with creative solutions that suit your individual circumstances. You can set your own time frames for the settlement meetings to occur, they do not have to fit in with the Court calendar. You can also agree on what information needs to be exchanged and if necessary what experts are needed to provide advice.
You can also take control of the information gathering process yourselves to minimise legal fees.
By Joe Buckley. Collaborative Lawyer and Principal at Farrar, Gesini and Dunn