I cannot recall an occasion where in my years of private practice as a family lawyer, a client has said to me that they want to go to Court without first trying to reach an agreement with their partner.

This is probably because at that outset, they realised that going to Court would cost them more money than imaginable and take a long time, being anywhere between 18 months to two and a half years.

Such considerations were obvious factors preventing them from commencing Court proceedings themselves to begin with. Nevertheless, whether they commenced the Court proceedings or their partner did, these considerations appeared to take a back seat to the disillusioned ideas about what Court could be.

Court is (or should be) the last resort. Court provides a resolution, offering a means to an end only. There will be no Jack Nicholson-Tom-Cruise-A-Few-Good-Men moment, you will probably not be able to tell your side of the story to the Judge as you want, the Judge is unlikely to commend you for being a wonderful parent and see through your partner for the bad person that they are and it is unlikely that you will see your partner break down under cross examination and admit that they lied about everything.

I can tell you from experience, that Court is not all that it is cracked up to be.

It is expensive, timely, emotionally taxing, stressful and draining. Neither you nor your partner have control over the cost, the amount of time things take or the outcome, unless you or your partner choose to opt out of the system and reach an agreement between yourselves.

In going to Court, you and your partner effectively handover control about decisions affecting your life, your children and your finances to a Judge, being a complete stranger. That Judge will make a determination about what they believe to be in your child’s best interests about where your child/ren should live and how much time they should spend with you and your partner as the parents, and that Judge will decide who gets what in the division of assets and how much.

There are alternate process options to reaching an agreement with your partner that do not involve Court. Collaboration is a process option that we generally recommend to assist couples to reach an agreement. Other alternatives include mediation, which you can do with or without solicitors, and with the help of solicitors.

See here for a list of mediation services in your local area:

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