Carry out any divorce related internet search and your browser will be inundated with search results that purport to a quick, easy and often incredulously cheap divorce.
Reality is however very different and rarely can providers deliver on those sales hooks.
With Family Law – How Long Does a Property Settlement Take?
The first thing to know is that getting divorced is not the same as negotiating and obtaining a property settlement.
Obtaining a Divorce Order is relatively straightforward process, provided a few conditions are met. Namely, that you and your spouse have been separated for a period of at least 12 months and that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. You or your spouse must also be an Australian citizen or resident and regards Australia as your permanent home.
Provided those conditions are met, you can apply for a divorce yourself or jointly with your spouse.
Once an application has been made, a Court date will be set and provided there is no dispute about the facts contained in the Application and the conditions have been satisfied, the Court will make the Divorce Order within 30 days of the hearing date.
Obtaining a property settlement, is a different kettle of fish.
While you do not have to wait for your Divorce Order to be made before you can have a property settlement (i.e. a property settlement can be done before a Divorce Order is made), the length of time it will take to get to an agreement on property matters, or when an agreement cannot be reached, get an Order of the Court to divide your assets, is different in each matter.
The length of time it will take to get to a property settlement will depend on a multitude of factors such as:
- Whether you and your partner agree on the terms/division of assets;
- The issues in dispute;
- The level of conflict between you and your partner;
- Whether you and your partner both have legal representation;
- Whether property or business valuations need to be obtained;
- The level of disclosure that is required to be exchanged;
- Whether you and your partner attend mediation (which generally speaking has high success rates and can significantly shorten the process);
- Whether you ultimately need to make a court application; and
- How busy the court is (i.e. the more matters that are in court, the longer the process can take).
Is Obtaining a Property Settlement Easy?
Again, this will depend on a multitude of factors but the leading issue will be based on the relationship between the two parties working toward dividing their assets. Where the split is amicable there is scope to achieve a common goal.
Where there is the inevitable acrimony and mistrust between the parties, proceedings can get embroiled and protracted. In this latter scenario, your divorce lawyer can excel by removing emotion from the process and serving your interests directly with your ex-partner’s legal team. A good family law team will keep you informed at all stages of your proceedings.
How Much Does a Divorce Cost?
There is no hiding that legal fees can be high and with any product or service that is advertised as cheap, the best policy is to be cautious and wary. You pay for what you get in life and an online divorce form or guide is not going to give you anywhere near the protection, ease of mind and thoroughness of a qualified and experience divorce lawyer. Costs and benefits should be seen not purely as a monetary item but a qualitative aspect as well. Paying for good legal support in a separation or divorce can help streamline the time it takes and relieve significant levels of anxiety.
Every family law firm will have different pricing structures with some offering flat fee packages while others may be time based. Your divorce lawyer should be very transparent as to the divorce fee structure and how much they will charge you on a unit (generally 6 minutes increments) or hourly basis.