How Court Proceedings for Family Law Matters can End

When Family Court proceedings are commenced to seek an Order of the Court, to mandate the separation of financial obligations which arose during the relationship, and, or have a parenting order in place to ensure the children’s rights are upheld, all parties would like the matter to be dealt with as quickly as possible.

What you should not expect, is for the Court to make a final decision on the date listed to appear on your documents. You can expect a Court date two to three months after the first documents are filed. There are always exceptions for emergencies.

You can also expect on that date an Interim Order will be made not to finalise your matter, but to progress your matter. These are Orders to give both parties direction and set some rules for both parties to follow. This is to help the parties work towards making a mutual decision to finalise the matter.

After you have appeared before the Court on that first day, there are three possible outcomes that will finalise the matter and bring some certainty to you and your family’s life and future:

  1. Settlement by Consent at a Court directed mediation – highly successful with most matters settling the terms of the Order, by mutual consent of the parties. This is because all parties have an obligation to disclose all their evidence. To refuse to do so is contempt, which may bring serious penalties to the obstinate and obstructive party.
  2. Determination by the Court – not as common an outcome. This is generally because both parties have had the opportunity to understand the other parties’ position to enable them to compromise and achieve a settlement at mediation.

If the parties have not been able to resolve the issues in dispute at mediation, the process required to resolve the matter is very detailed and specific to your situation.

You can expect a wait of 12 to 18 months for the Court to have a date or dates available to “hear all the evidence” supporting the competing positions. You can then wait another 6 – 12 months for the Judge to make the decision about your matter and provide a copy of their reasons based on the evidence and the law, as to why they made the decision.

Please note the Judge may not make a decision that either party was expecting.

  1. The third and very unlikely way to finalise legal proceedings, is for the party who commenced the proceedings, to formally withdraw from the proceedings.
  2. It is unlikely that a matter will end with the applicant withdrawing, because you should never commence legal proceedings without getting advice on what is a very complicated and expensive process. You are also highly likely to pay the other party’s legal fees too.

There is also a difference between starting proceedings in Court and asking the Court to make Orders for the terms of an agreement which both parties have agreed to. This option is the most cost effective and time efficient method to finalise any financial obligations created from the relationship which will prevent you moving ahead financially, or to ensure that your children’s welfare and rights are protected by law to ensure their best interests are always met.

If you would like further information to help you resolve the hostilities and bring some resolution to your separation, please do not hesitate to speak to our Gold Coast and Logan Family Lawyers for free family law advice.

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