Both Kate and Ben have family lawyers and whilst one lawyer is practical, collaborative and focused on resolution (yes – that’s us!), the other is more litigious and aggressive. Whilst lawyer-assisted mediation was suggested to help break the parties’ impasse, the litigious lawyer recommends court proceedings be filed instead.
Ben and Kate now find themselves in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. After their first initial court hearing and because they can’t agree on Ruby’s future livingarrangements, they are heading off to have a Family Report prepared and the financial matters are scheduled for barrister-led mediation in a few months’ time.
Both have been advised that in addition to their legal costs spent to date (about $10,000 each), another $10,000 plus will be spent on mediation each, the Family Report will cost between $6,000 to $10,000 and if matters can’t be resolved with a Family Report or at mediation, the matter will be listed for an interim defended hearing which may cost another $10,000 plus each.
The last stage is a final hearing where they can expect to spend another $40,000 plus each where the Judge will impose a decision upon them.
Ben and Kate have been in de facto relationship for about 10 years and they have one daughter together, Ruby, who is 7 years of age.
Although they’ve agreed to separate, they can’t agree on Ruby’s living arrangements. Kate was initially the primary carer as she worked part time but in the last two years, she and Ben have shared Ruby’s the care as pandemic lockdowns meant they have both been able to work from home and care for Ruby when she’s not at school.
There is also some disagreement about who stays in the family home and how their assets should be divided. The major sticking point is Ben owned the family home before meeting Kate and he also received an inheritance from his late Aunt which paid out the mortgage.
Even though Kate has helped pay for household and family’s expenses from her own income along the way, she is worried about her financial future.
Although Ben and Kate agreed to attend mediation and some compromises were made on both their parts, communication has broken down and conflict is high.