Family law matters are often emotionally charged, overwhelming and complex to resolve due to the highly personal and difficult situations involved.
In many cases, having to navigate your way through a family law matter is usually because a family relationship, like a marriage or de facto relationship has broken down. The resulting separation or divorce means that a number of matters need to be dealt with, like the division of assets and working out how you will parent moving forward.
The Australian family law system provides individuals and families with a flexible system that is designed to help people come to their own resolutions, one that works for them. And while many people enter into the resolution process well intended, there are some common mistakes that people make that can impact them in various ways.
In this article, we’re going to talk about some of these common mistakes and the things you need to consider in order to avoid making the same mistakes.
Most Common Family Law Mistakes
The family law system may have the advantage of being flexible, allowing people to create arrangements and agreements that suit their specific situation. However, the system is also complex, which can make it easier for mistakes to happen – some of which are more severe than others.
Here are some of the most common mistakes, we as family lawyers, see our clients make:
1. Letting their emotions rule their decisions
Emotions are natural and during family law matters, like those that arise from divorce or separation, they can be especially intense.
While it’s normal to feel upset, anger and frustration at during these times, it’s important to not let emotions dictate the decisions that you make as this can lead to negative outcomes.
When we let our emotions cloud our judgement, it can cause or escalate conflict which can lead to unreasonable demands and even excessive litigation.
The Australian family law system has been designed to allow people to find practical solutions, ones that prioritise the interests of any children involved and promotes fairness.
Seeking revenge or attempting to punish the other party will only drag out resolving the matters and possibly lead to other negative issues arising.
2. Involving children in the matters
Unfortunately, children often bear the brunt of family disputes, even when parents are not meaning to do this.
Mistakes like using children as messengers or as bargaining chips in negotiations can impact the kids negatively and result in unfair agreements.
The best interests of the child are prioritised in the Australian family law system, so decisions made that can impact them must be made with their best interests as the paramount consideration.
Exposing kids to contentious legal battles is not the best interests of a child and can have long-lasting emotional and psychological repercussions, including impacting their relationships with their parents moving forward.
When children are involved, the focus should be on creating co-parenting arrangements that allow children to have a relationship with each parent – as long as it is safe to do so.
If you have children and are going through a separation, it may be worth considering counselling services to help children navigate these difficult situations.
3. Posting about matters on social media
Social media has certainly become an integral part of modern life. And while it’s a great tool to keep in touch with people and even help to facilitate relationships, it needs to be managed carefully during family law matters.
Sometimes, a person may make the mistake of venting their frustrations or sharing sensitive details about their situation on social media. This can be detrimental because posts and comments on social media can be used as evidence in court, which can potentially be used to undermine the credibility of the people involved.
Section 121 of the Family Law Act provides stringent guidelines concerning the confidentiality of family law proceedings, with the publication of any information that could identify parties involved in family law cases being explicitly prohibited.
If Section 121 is violated it could result in serious legal consequences, even impacting the outcome of your case. It’s recommended to exercise extreme caution when to comes to social media and discussing anything to do with your family law case.
4. Leaving agreements informal
We mentioned earlier how the family law system provides a range of flexible options when it comes to resolving matters, this includes allowing people to make parenting, child support, financial and property settlements agreements and arrangements between one another.
The system also provides a practical avenue for parties that have made agreements themselves to formalise them.
While there is this option available, some people do decide to rely on their informal agreements with their former partners. Unfortunately, relying on these informal agreements can lead to disputes, misunderstandings and make it difficult to enforce the agreements.
Agreements can be formalised and made legally binding as consent orders or binding financial agreements. Formalising your agreement doesn’t change the terms of the agreement you’ve made, other than that it can be legally enforced. This can help to provide clarity over time and it is possible to change these agreements if required too.
If you need to formalise and informal agreement, we highly recommend working with an experienced family lawyer to ensure that the agreement is suitable and can be legally binding.
5. Not seeking professional help
As we’ve touched on, family law matters are often overwhelming and can come with a significant amount of emotional distress.
While it’s certainly possible to navigate these matters yourself, there are also many different professionals and services available to you to make the process a lot easier.
Talking through your situation with a therapist, psychologist or counsellor can provide emotional support and strategies for coping with the stress and anxiety associated with family disputes.
Working with a family lawyer can help you to ensure that your legal rights, obligations and interests are protected throughout the legal process.
You don’t need to struggle through family law matters alone.
How a family lawyer can help you
We know that many people try to avoid using our family law services, sometimes it’s because they think they can resolve the matters themselves and want to keep it private, while for others it may be that our services are too costly.
While our family law services do have costs associated with them, our legal expertise can potentially help you to resolve your matter a lot more efficiently than doing it alone and we could help you get a better outcome than what you may get otherwise.
We not only provide advice, but we can review potential agreements, negotiate settlements and arrangements, and represent you in court proceedings when necessary.
The sooner you can get a lawyer involved, the better. You don’t necessarily have to use our services but we can help you understand where you stand. In the video below, we explain why getting legal advice early can make a world of difference:
If you’re unsure about whether you should get a family lawyer involved in your situation, have a read of our article about the various ways we help to resolve family law disputes and the types of matters we can help with here.
Do you need a family lawyer in Australia?
If you’re looking for compassionate family lawyers who understand the complexities of family law matters, talk to us today at Clarity Lawyers. We’re based in Newcastle and Maitland in New South Wales but our family law services are available Australia-wide, so no matter where you are, we can help you.