Here are just a few of our do’s and don’ts for recently separated clients:
Consider relationship counselling
Family lawyers are not here to advocate for divorce, or separation. We are here to help you manage the end of your relationship.
One of the first questions I ask my client’s is: “is there any chance of reconciliation?”
So whilst relationship counselling may not always be appropriate, it is something you should consider.
Even if you and your partner do not reconcile, counselling has the benefit of airing emotional grievances which can allow parties to approach the resolution of their relationship in a measured and objective way.
Collate your documentation
In any financial matter, one of the first things your lawyer should and will tell you is: “you have to provide us with documentation relating to your financial circumstances”.
The reason is two-fold. Under the Family Law Rules and the Federal Circuit Court Rules you have an obligation to disclose your financial circumstances. Further, your lawyer needs to be able to identify and vouch the assets and liabilities in your relationship.
In parenting matters, documentation you may have about your child’s health, education or extra-curricular activities may be relevant.
So, save yourself some time and money and collate this documentation and provide it to your lawyer as soon as you can.
Unless you are in a situation where there is family violence, or your matter is urgent, Section 60I of the Family Law Act requires you to attend mediation to attempt to negotiate the care arrangements for your children.
Often, you can and will reach agreement and this will be documented in a parenting plan. A parenting plan is not binding, and so we always encourage client’s to formalise a parenting plan by way of an Application for Consent Order which is filed with the Court.
If agreement is not reached you will be issued which will enable you to apply to the Court to hear your parenting matter.
Vent on social media
You, your new partner, your family or your friends should not use Facebook or any other social media outlet to disparage the other party and/or discuss your family court proceedings.
Section 121 of the Family Law Act makes it an offence to publish any account of proceedings or an image which identifies a party or child involved in family law proceedings.
Further, you can bet your bottom dollar that, your social media post will find its way before a judicial officer in an affidavit deposed to the Court.
Attempt to deplete funds from bank accounts; sell or transfer the ownership of assets
Unless agreed or under the directive of a Court Order, you should not withdraw money from a bank account. You should also not dispose of any asset, for example by gifting your 1.5 million dollar home to your great nephew or selling it for a peppercorn; you should also not suddenly decide to buy a Ferrari in an attempt to reduce the value of the asset pool.
Not only will you be expected to provide disclosure of where the money or asset went, but the Court could find that you have wasted the assets of the relationship and/or add back the value of those assets to the pool.
The Court also has the power under Section 106B of the Family Law Act to set aside any transaction to defeat a claim.