At Balance Family Law, one of the first steps that we encourage our client’s to take is to define what their long-term/“big picture” goals are. Why? Because the issues that arise in the Family Law space are very “human” issues and whilst we can give the legal answer to a Family Law problem those legal answers may not be what the parties need to move forward in their lives and be happy.
Common types of goals that we have come across include:
- “I want to be able to maintain an amicable relationship with my ex for my children”
- “I want to stay a big part of my children’s lives”
- “I want to be financially secure”
- “I want to have enough superannuation so I don’t have to work until I’m 80”
- “I want to be able to move on and be happy”
By defining these “big picture” goals, we are able to come up with strategies and options for settlement which work towards achieving these goals. We are also able to identify what other professional services may be needed to help work towards those goals – such as a financial planner or psychologist.
Whilst we know that defining your goals can be hard, as it is easy to get caught up in the past and the present, defining your goals early on makes settling your matter that much simpler. From our experience, clients who have been able to clearly identify goals:
- are less stressed out by the process, and are able to manage and overcome conflict much easier;
- are able to maintain good relationships with their ex;
- are able to resolve their matter much quicker;
- incur less legal fees!
Example 1 – Nigel & Nellie (not their real names)
Take a recent client of ours for example – let’s call him Nigel.
Nigel and his ex, Nellie, had been separated for some time, and due to some unforeseen financial issues sought a property settlement involving the former family home. They were both in their 50’s.
When Nigel came to us, he had two goals – (1) to keep the former family home as he had been living in and contributing to it since separation, and (2) to be able to retire by his late 60s.
After defining his goals, we met with Nigel and a financial planner to have a chat about his goals. The financial planner was able to look at his assets and earnings and talk to him about how much it will cost to keep the property, whether he would be able to refinance the property into his name, what his retirement looked like and how much that may cost.
From this meeting, we were able to come up with a number of options and proposals for settlement which could meet Nigel’s goals. Some of them were not ideal, but even a non-ideal option is still an option which ought to be considered. We looked at all of these options, ranked them from first to last preference, and then decided on an offer to put to Nellie.
In this matter, goal setting helped provide a clear framework for us about how to achieve the best for Nigel. It also helped Nigel focus on the bigger picture when going through his matter, and not get caught up on the little issues which could have caused further conflict.
Example 2 – Lucy and Dan (not their real names)
In another matter, our client, Lucy, had very clear goals when it came to settlement of her family law matters with her ex, Dan. In this matter, there were two children under the age of 10, and Lucy’s main goal was to ensure that both she and Dan remained amicable and could continue to make decisions about their children jointly.
These goals informed not only how we would approach settlement of their parenting matters, but also their property matters. We made sure that any issues that arose with respect to their property dispute were handled sensitively so that they have very little bearing on how the parenting matter was being dealt with.
Because both Lucy and Dan shared their goal for remaining amicable, a lot of the time we took a step back. We gave Lucy the tools and information that she needed to go to Dan directly and discuss and try to resolve matters with him, and thus reducing the risk of issues or positions being misinterpreted or agitated by lawyers.
In the end, Lucy and Dan were able to sit down and go through our Forward online settlement solution together (yes, together), and work through the system to document their agreement quickly and cost-effectively.
These are just a few examples of how we have been able to help people identify and articulate their goals, and use them to navigate their way through their family law matters as quickly, cost-effectively and amicably as possible!
For more information about how we can help you define and achieve your goals in your family law settlement, give us a call here. Our lawyers can discuss your needs and goals with you and help you finalise your settlement agreements quickly and cost-effectively.
At Balance Family Law, we help you to identify your goals when it comes to your family law dispute!