Family Court litigation is sometimes unavoidable. We can represent you in the Federal Circuit Court and in the Family Court with our expertise and experience getting the best results.
Most matters are commenced in the Federal Circuit Court with the more serious matters being dealt with by the Family Court. The partners in the firm have been representing our clients in both courts for more than 25 years and have the expertise and experience that you need if you happen to find yourself embroiled in litigation. Even where litigation has to be commenced or has already been commenced when you come to us, our focus remains on resolution.
Matters are commenced in court by way of an initiating Application which sets out the details of the parties and the orders sought by the applicant. The Court (Family or Federal Circuit Court) can make decisions about where a child lives and with whom, how much time a child will spend with both parents and other persons (e.g. grandparents) and any other matter that is relevant to the welfare of children (e.g. where a child goes to school, what religion the child will follow).
Counselling and mediation are the usual pathway for court proceedings in children’s matters which is why in many cases (more than 95%) matters do not reach a trial stage where the Judge has to make a decision. Often family reports are ordered to assist the Court in making decisions that are in the best interests of the children.
Our team members are capable litigators in the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court in Brisbane.
PROPERTY SETTLEMENT LITIGATION
Whilst there is no legislative requirement for property settlement issues to be mediated first (as in children’s matters), it is usual for negotiations or mediation to be attempted prior to the commencement of proceedings. Applications are made by filing an initiating application, an affidavit of evidence and a financial statement. Usually the first court date is at least six weeks after filing. The respondent to the application has to file a Response to the application, his or her affidavit of evidence and also a financial statement before the first court date. The next time the matter is in court is after mediation/conciliation when trial directions are made. The time between the first court date and a trial could be anything from 6 months to more than a year. So it makes commercial sense to try and settle before commencing proceedings and if necessary attend mediation.
If mediation has not been attempted or where it is deemed appropriate even if mediation has previously been attempted, the court will usually order the parties to attend mediation or a conciliation conference. Mediation is conducted privately and attracts costs for the mediator and the time for the parties lawyers. Conciliation Conferences are conducted by a Registrar of the Court and attract a Court fee with the parties still being responsible for their own lawyers time. Conciliation Conference time is limited whereas in private mediation it is a matter for the mediator and the parties how much time is allowed to mediate.
The Family Law Act and the Courts require that there is full disclosure of all relevant documents (both in property matters and children’s matters) by both parties involved. It is referred to as being “full and frank” disclosure and there are serious consequences for a failure to do so. There is often a need to obtain valuations of property, usually by a jointly appointed or court appointed valuer.
The whole process of litigation is complex with there often being a number of court appearances along the way.
Contact us for more information on Family Court Litigation and to arrange a consultation with an experienced litigation family lawyer.