Divorce Without Courts

12-10-2022    |    Video   |   Simone Thomas

For many separated couples, the thought of attending Court to finalise their divorce or property settlement can be intimidating.

My name is Simone Thomas and I head up the family law practice here at Lamrocks.  One of the most common questions we hear from clients when we first meet them is “Will I have to go to court?”.

The good news is that only a very small percentage of family law matters end up in Court. 

Not many people are aware that you can work out your parenting arrangements - and the division of your property after a separation - WITHOUT having to attend Court.

At Lamrocks, we encourage clients to negotiate and try to reach agreements with their ex-partners. 

We can help you to understand your rights, determine what is fair and reasonable, guide you through the process, and provide help with the negotiation process.

Regardless of whether you are negotiating a property settlement or parenting arrangements, there are so many benefits to reaching an agreement outside of the Court.

First and foremost, it is quicker than going through the Court system and a lot cheaper.

Being able to negotiate your own agreement also ensures that the things you think are important for your family are considered in the discussions.   A Judge may not attach the same level of importance to those issues when reaching a decision.

For example, couples are more likely to co-parent effectively and abide by agreements that they have reached themselves, rather than decisions imposed on them by a Judge.

I recently worked with a client who was unable to reach a decision with their former spouse in a parenting matter. 

The matter was first referred to the Court in 2018 when one of the children involved was only 1 year old. By the time the court proceedings finished, the child was 4! 

I witnessed first hand the stress and expense of being stuck in the family law court system for almost 4 years, not only on my client but also his immediate family including parents and siblings.   For me, this really highlights the importance of helping families to manage their divorce and separation without the Courts where possible.

Even though there have been improvements to resourcing in the Courts over the last few months, you can still experience delays. 

I usually advise clients who are thinking of proceeding to Court that they can still expect somewhere between 12 months and two years to have a Judge determine their matter on a final basis.

This is a long time for parties to be involved in such an adversarial process, and the negative flow-on effects to children from having stressed parents fighting it out in court can be quite profound.

If you can work with us to identify the key issues, areas where you can compromise, and areas where you need to stand firm, we can help you and your partner to reach an agreement.

As experienced negotiators and dispute resolution practitioners, we can work with your partner’s lawyers to ensure the matter runs as smoothly as possible.  In some situations, we might also recommend mediation as the most appropriate way to resolve a dispute. 

Mediation can be particularly valuable when a couple reaches a bit of a ‘stalemate’ in negotiations, or there is a particular sticking point that they cannot agree on.  It provides a great opportunity for you both to voice what is important to you in a safe and structured environment, with the support of experts including your lawyer and the mediator.

Once an agreement is reached outside of the court process, we can document the agreement for you and your partner to sign, then refer it to the Court to turn into court orders, which are often called consent orders. 

You are NOT required to attend the Court for this to happen and the consent orders have the same enforceability as if a Judge had made the court order…. but without the expense and delays.

Reaching an agreement with your former partner outside of the Court avoids the uncertainty of the court process.  You retain control of the decision making, and what is important to you. 

Not only that, you can reach an agreement that will also minimise the potential for conflict in the future.

If you are experiencing a relationship breakdown, contact the family law team at Lamrocks Solicitors for a confidential discussion about your rights and obligations.


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