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Gaining a Good Understanding of the System

The more you are able to gain a good understanding of family law – a system that is difficult to change (even with the help of expensive lawyers) – the better able to make sensible and informed decisions you will be. An important part of such an understanding is knowing when and how far the system can help you obtain what you want and knowing when and how far it cannot.

If you ask the two parties to any family law matter what would be a fair result, you will often get quite different answers. Generally, each party will provide thoughtful reasons for their view. However, they cannot both be right in practice.

Reality dictates that there are only two ways to reliably resolve a family law matter. One of those is agreement – generally a compromise somewhere between the two views; the other is a result from the court.

It can be important to understand the link between what is likely to be available in the courtroom and what can realistically be achieved via negotiation. Generally, the availability of one result will strongly influence the other. Normally, if someone can get a better deal from the court than is offered via negotiation, they have the option to use the court. This effect is reasonably strong in the Family Court where its initial stages (the resolution phase) are relatively efficient and cost-effective.

It can also be important to remember that a family law matter can only be resolved by either finding something with which the other party will agree or by receiving the judgment likely to be delivered in the courtroom. If a particular result is not available from the other party by agreement and is also not likely to be available from the court, that result does not really exist. Spending time and money trying to achieve such an outcome is likely to result in waste and frustration. Probably the majority of problems in family law (and the majority of horror stories about high levels of costs) arise from this important factor – aiming for a result that probably doesn’t exist in reality. Understanding this potential problem and avoiding it can be an important factor in directing your matter toward an efficient and cost-effective result. (It is important to point out that we are not suggesting that anyone should accept a poor result – the important point is recognising the difference between a good result and one that is likely to be impossible in practice.)