Fair or equitable – what’s the difference?

When I meet a client for the first time, I ask what their expectations may be about possible outcomes for their parenting or property dispute. I often get the response “I just want what is “fair”. That response has led me to address a number of common themes and expectations in providing family law advice when negotiating parenting and property matters.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia is a Court of equity. That means there is a certain amount of discretion for the Court to make decisions, or to approve an agreement reached by parties with their lawyers.

There is no “one size fits all”, or a mathematically precise percentage outcome for your case. There may be a number of possible outcomes, based on the circumstances of your relationship.

Fair is not a helpful word in family law negotiations. The subjectivity of fairness can seriously impact settlement negotiations when a party takes a firm stance in a dispute.

If you engage a family lawyer, other words you should expect to become familiar with, particularly in parenting matters include:

Child focused: The Court is concerned with what is in the best interests of your child. Child focused agreements or Court Orders often mean concessions have been made about the way you approach parenting post separation.

Family therapy: Subject to issues of risk and family/domestic violence, family therapy may provide some support to deal with parenting after separation for you, your former partner and your child.

Counselling: The breakdown of a relationship is tough. Lawyers know the law, but they may not be a qualified counsellor. It is important that you have the right professionals to support you emotionally throughout your separation.

Common sense: What is actually in the best interests of your child? Is it reasonable for your child to spend quality time with each parent? Obstructive and destructive arguments about parenting can be detrimental to your child’s experience of separation.

Composure: The way you deal with your parenting dispute will likely impact your child’s understanding of separation.

In property matters the Court will make Orders for a final property settlement to avoid further proceedings and to ensure an end to your financial relationship with your ex-partner.

Financial disclosure: The Court can set aside Orders or Financial Agreements if a party has not provided information that is relevant to the asset pool. You will be expected to be transparent about your finances to avoid a final property settlement being revisited at a later time.

Commercial reality: A significant amount of your earned income and resources can be spent in arguing a family law dispute. What is inevitable is that your dispute will come to an end eventually, either by negotiation or in Court where a Judge will decide the matter for you after much stress, delay and expense.

Certainty: Do your research on your legal representation. It is important that when you do reach an agreement about your family law dispute that you have confidence you are receiving qualified experienced advice.

If you would like a personalised assessment of your circumstances, contact us on 07 5609 4933 for a free initial consultation or book online https://www.ctlawyers.com.au/booking/

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