Keeping legal costs down is something which resonates with all
family law clients.
Section 117(1) of the Family Law Act 1975 ("the Act")
states that each party bear their own costs, unless the Family
Court finds that there are circumstances that justify a costs
order. If the Court does make an order that one party pay legal
costs to the other under section 117(2) of the Act the order may be
Section 117(2A) of the Act lists the factors the Court must have
regard to in considering what order (if any) for costs should be
made. These include: the financial circumstances of the parties;
whether either party is a recipient of legal aid; the conduct of
the parties (for example failure of one party to provide certain
documents); whether the proceedings were necessitated by failure of
a party to comply with previous orders; whether a party has been
wholly unsuccessful in the proceedings; and the terms of any offer
made by either party.
The costs associated with separating from a spouse are
significant, which need to be weighed up before a final decision to
separate can be made. These costs include: the emotional costs to
both parties; the emotional and developmental costs for the
children; the costs of supporting two households or remaining
separated under the one roof; the cost of needing two sets of most
things for the children; child support; spousal maintenance;
re-training; legal costs; accounting costs and counselling
At HHG we have the following tips for separating couples:
Prepare a chronology with key dates and important
Prepare a list of all current assets and liabilities;
Compile a list of documents which corroborate values of assets,
liabilities and contributions, income and state of health. As the
case develops we will allocate further work a client may do
Continue to provide full disclosure of all financial interests
until a property settlement has been finalised.
When it comes to keeping costs down, at HHG Legal Group we:
explore the option of reconciliation between the parties;
remind our clients that the less that is spent on legal costs,
the more property there will be to divide between the parties;
remind our clients that if their matter is resolved quickly and
amicably, there will be less emotional impact on the children and
on both parties;
encourage and guide our clients to attend to work that they can
do themselves which will assist in keeping their costs down and
advance their case;
provide regular cost estimates to our clients to enable them to
weigh up likely costs against any benefits gained in pursuing an
action or claim;
assist our clients in making well considered, rational
encourage our clients to be open to a variety of options for
settlement and to treat their property settlement as one would a
remind our clients that the Family Court expects parties to
make every effort to resolve matters by agreement before commencing
remain focussed on a conciliatory approach with the other
encourage our clients to work closely with other professionals,
for example accountants, financial advisors, counsellors,
At HHG Legal Group we recognise the danger in parties preparing
complex legal documents themselves. Whilst this may initially
appear to save money, inevitably it will be more expensive long
term to rectify the errors or to fill in any gaps, and some errors
simply cannot be fixed.
Family Law is a complex jurisdiction, both legally and
procedurally. We recommend both parties engage an experienced
family lawyer soon after separation and, in a lot of cases, before
Obtaining written legal advice from an experienced family lawyer
very early will provide clarity about rights and entitlements, and
responsibilities in the family law legal process and will aid in
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Sect.117 can deal with false statements and knowingly making false allegations of violence could justify a costs order.
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