Often during breakdowns in relationships, parents will involve their children as 'pawns' in the litigation. Judges regularly see this in cases before them and can often tell when a parents motives are honourable or in the children's best interests. Not only does this put the children in an uncomfortable position, it can be very damaging to them which can affect their relationship with their parents in their later life. In addition, it is highly frowned upon if a parent 'coaches' their children to say and do things which they think will help them during their divorce. Again, Judges and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners regularly see this and it is highly discouraged.
2. DO NOT LIE TO YOUR LAWYER
During a divorce, many people think it is best to tell their lawyer only half of the story so they sound or look better. If the lawyer does not know the full story or have all the facts in front of them, there can be negative consequences which can prevail down the track. It is often the case where these lies come back to haunt the party who are lying. It is important to understand that the lawyer you hire is acting for you and trying to get you the best outcome, and it is very difficult for them if they do not know the full picture. If particular lies come out down the track in your matter, your lawyer may have an ethical obligation to tell the Court and may ask to be relieved as your lawyer due to the lie. A party's credibility is one of the most important factors during Court proceedings, and if you have lost credibility it is very difficult to recover.
3. DO NOT RESPOND EMOTIONALLY OR IMMEDIATELY TO EMAILS OR TEXTS FROM YOUR FORMER SPOUSE
During family law matters, emails and texts are one of the most common pieces of evidence that can be used to show a party's conduct. Remember, before you send a text or email that what you are sending could end up before a Judge. When emotions and impulse become involved it is easy to forget how to communicate maturely. If you would like to email or text your former spouse, it is often best to send the proposed message to your lawyer first to make sure that it wont aggravate or affect your position moving forward.
4. DO NOT MAKE COMMENTS IN THE COURTROOM THAT OTHER PEOPLE CAN HEAR
When you are in Court and you hear something you disagree with, it is easy to want to correct that person, make comments under your breath or make comments later on. You make think you are safe to say anything you want because the Judge cannot hear you or the Judge is not in the room. You may be wrong. The Judge's Associate, court clerk or any other staff member associated with the Judge may still be present in the court room and they may pass on what they witnessed you say. If you say something inappropriate to the opposing counsel or your former spouse, they may also inform the Judge of this conduct. Inappropriate comments are rarely tolerated by Judges and you may be asked to leave the Court room on account of them.
5. DO NOT MAKE A SPECTACLE OF YOURSELF IN THE COURT ROOM
Judges do not like when litigants 'huff and puff' or make inappropriate faces when the Judge or the other side are speaking. Similarly, do not fidget, use your mobile phone, eat, chew gum or rock in your chair. These behaviours may distract other people in the court room and frustrate the Judge. The Judge is positioned high up in front of all party's in the room and can see everything that goes on. How you behave may affect how the Judge decides your case.
6. DO NOT EXPECT A 'WIN' AT TRIAL
It is very hard to categorise a 'win' at trial, but in most cases no one wins at trial. Trials are very expensive and long processes where there are many issues that are dealt with such as parenting arrangements and property pool distributions. Party's are often required to not only pay for their lawyers but also a barrister which can make the fees blow out very quickly. There is little likelihood that you will win on every issue and issue within that issue. In property settlements, Judges try to do what is just and equitable and in parenting disputes the Judges are mainly concerned with what is in the children's best interests. Although rules of evidence are some what relaxed in family law matters, you may still be prohibited from introducing certain evidence that you think is vital to you 'winning' your case.
7. DO NOT BE DISORGANISED FOR YOUR LAWYER
One of the best things you can do during your divorce is be organised. If you provide your lawyer with a plastic bag full of documents that you have very little knowledge about, this not only makes it very difficult for your lawyer to piece everything together but makes it much more expensive for you to pay for your lawyer to do that. Prior to seeing your lawyer try to collate all of your important information that you think is relevant to your matter as concisely as possible. Your lawyer will not expect you to know everything and have everything perfect, but they will guide you with what they need and it is important to work with them so that your matter proceeds smoothly.
8. DO NOT LET OTHER PEOPLE MAKE DECISIONS FOR YOU
When you are going through a divorce it is very important to have friends and family to support you. However, it is important to remember that this is your life and ultimately you need to make decisions that will affect how you and your children will move forward in the future. Most of the time your friends and family have good intentions when they are talking to you or helping you make decisions. Just remember that they do not have to live with the consequences of the decisions that are made. It is often best for you when you are unsure, to speak to your lawyer who will often weigh up the various options you have and give you professional advice on each.
9. DO NOT COMPARE YOUR DIVORCE WITH WHAT YOUR FRIEND GOT IN THEIR DIVORCE
Almost everyone knows someone who has been through a divorce. Most people talk about their experiences and their results they got during their divorce. Just remember that every divorce is different and everyone's life is different which changes the outcomes. If your friend has 2 children and receives $3,000 per month in child support - this does not mean you are entitled to the same. Your friends husband may earn 5 times more than your husband; or, your friends husband only has the children for one weekend every fortnight, compared to your husband having them 50% of the time. When looking at your range of entitlement for a property settlement or what you may be entitled to in parenting orders base this on the facts of your case and not on what you have seen other lawyers achieve in other divorces.
10. DO NOT MAKE UNREASONABLE DEMANDS
Often, what you want and what you are entitled to are two different things. Is important to listen to your lawyers advice on what they think a reasonable expectation is. While you may think that asking for $1,000,000 in a property settlement when realistically you are entitled to $400,000 is a great way to negotiate, it isn't. This method will often cause your former spouse to make equally absurd offers and push the two of you further apart from a settlement. Going back and forth with offers that aren't realistic will make you incur additional and unnecessary legal fees. If your case is to reach a trial, the Judge may take into consideration the offers that have been made and those that were made with good or bad faith. Asking for the world in a settlement or failing to offer a realistic amount may end up meaning that you are required to pay some of your spouses legal fees.
SPEAK TO A FAMILY LAWYER
At Stone Group Lawyers we have a team of highly experienced family lawyers who will help you navigate through what can be a very emotional and complicated process. We will endeavour to provide you with the best and most cost effective solutions to settling your matter taking into consideration the 10 points listed above. Contact our office on (07) 5635 0180 for a free 45 minute consultation with one of our family lawyers.