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Family Law Separation Guide - 9 - Legal Costs

Family Law Report - 9 Issues of Family Separation

Issue 9:  Legal Costs

                                                                                     

Our clients come under our protection. We give excellent service and great value for money. 

O'SheaDyer Solicitors were recommended to me by a friend. She told me they were  'the best in the business' and I am very glad I chose them to assist me through a difficult family law issue. Everyone was patient, genuine and compassionate and very easy to relate to and trust. Going through divorce is extremely stressful and my lawyer's dedication, knowledge and empathy helped immensely.  O'SheaDyer was not only committed to obtaining the best legal outcome for me but they were also invested in me well-being. I am forever grateful to them. 

   - Louise 

Your First Appointment

Your first meeting with us is a low fixed-fee of $220 including gst, payable at Reception at the conclusion of your appointment.

We keep the cost of your first appointment low so you get to meet us before you choose us.  This fee includes an hour-long appointment with an experienced lawyer plus a 15 minute follow up phone call from that lawyer a few days later, once you have thought about the advice given, and what you want to do next.

To speak with an experienced family lawyer about your situation is the best thing you can do.  It really is worth finding out as much as you can about what happens in a separation. Do not put off coming to see us because you don’t think it’s worth it.  It is always worth discussing your situation and your options with a lawyer.

Most of the time, the goal is to obtain Consent Orders that address future arrangements for the children and for your property.  Sometimes that can be done quickly. Sometimes it can’t, as one of the parties is unreasonable. This usually means you must file an Application in the Court for orders to be made by a Judge. Sometimes matters will go to a Court Hearing but most of the time agreement (Consent Orders) will be reached before the Hearing.

 In this first appointment, we can give you an idea of what it would cost you if we represent you. 

What will it cost if we continue to represent you and advocate for you?
Fixed fees

Sometimes people have almost reached an agreement and only need assistance to have it formalised in Consent Orders. This is something we can do for a fixed fee. (See below.)

We are also able to give a fixed fee for Divorce Applications.

Hourly rates

When there are lengthy negotiations and/or Court documents to prepare, or a Conference or Court Hearing to prepare for, it is very difficult to set a fixed fee.  In situations like these, lawyer’s keep track of the time spent on the matter and charge according to their hourly rate.

Often you can keep costs down by doing some of the work for yourself. For example, in property matters, if you collect financial documents yourself and list them in a particular organised way, you can save hours off your bill.

Some people like to have everything covered by a lawyer. If you can afford it, this is definitely the way to go as it reduces the most amount of stress.  If you don’t want a lawyer to do ‘everything’ for you, we can be in the background helping when you need it. We have options where you do most of the negotiation work and you come and see us to check things are fair or to draft Court documents.  In these situations, we charge you an hourly rate for our time.

We will always give you a good estimate of costs in advance of doing work. We can do this once we talk to you and know your situation.

The quicker people can come to an Agreement, the lower the legal fees!

At O'SheaDyer we have an excellent team of experienced lawyers working for our Family law clients.  Jodi Dingwall, Cathy Fon and Ivan Baxter are lawyers with substantial Family Law experience. Bridget Barrie, who is an experienced Family Law ParaLegal also works for our family law clients.  Each of these people have hourly rates depending on their experience.

Hourly rates can vary from $220 - $440 (inc gst) an hour.

FIXED FEES -

Cost of us Preparing your Divorce Application

If there are no children under 18:  $1000 plus gst + Court filing fee $910

If there are children under 18 years of age:  $1500 plus gst + Court filing fee $910. Our fees are higher in this situation because - when there are children under 18 we need to appear in Court for the hearing of the Application.

Costs for Consent Orders

If an Agreement has been reached:

If you and your ex-partner are in agreement (or are very close to agreement) you may be eligible to use our stream-lined service to obtain Consent Orders.

When Obtaining Consent Orders for Children or Property Matters, you can obtain:

  • Consent Orders for Property (Financial) Matters - as long as the financial arrangements you both agree to are in accordance with considerations in the Family Law Act.
  • Consent Orders for Parenting Matters - as long as the arrangements you both agree to are in the best interest of the children and in accordance with considerations in the Family Law Act.

When you and your ex-partner are in agreement; and you can present financial information to us in an organised format; and we are able to confirm the agreement is sensible and reasonable, we can prepare documentation quickly and the cost can be minimised. The only thing that may affect costs is the complexity of your situation. (For example, if you have many properties that need to be valued, identified correctly, and their split agreed upon; or a family business or trust that need re-arranging). 

Costs

An example costing when Agreement has been reached and complexity is low:

  1. Property Consent Orders from $3,700 plus gst + $165 Court Filing Fee
  2. Parenting Consent Orders from $3,700 plus gst + $165 Court Filing Fee
  3. Both Property and Parenting Consent Orders from $5,950 plus gst + $165 Court Filing Fee

Timeframe

If you are in Agreement with your ex-partner, or are very close to it, your Agreement could be formalised by Consent Orders within weeks.  

Once Agreement has been reached, we can then promptly prepare the necessary Court documents (Application for Consent Orders and Terms of Settlement) and have them signed and filed in the Court within 1 to 2 weeks.  The Court will usually approve the Application and make the orders within a couple of days or a week at the latest. 

HOURLY RATE ESTIMATES -

If NO Agreement has been reached and negotiations are required we try to give clients an estimate of how much time we think it will take to negotiate and complete the matter.

Costs

If we need to enter into negotiations with your ex-partner or their solicitor and can reach an Agreement or settlement without lengthy negotiations, our fees for both negotiating the agreement and preparing the application for consent orders will usually be between $5,000 and $8,000 plus gst. This depends upon the property pool and the complexity of the matter.

Timeframe-

If negotiations are required, or an informal conference is held where the matter is discussed, and an Agreement is reached, the Court documents (for Consent Orders) can then be prepared promptly.

Once signed by the parties, the documents can be filed in the Court within 1 to 2 weeks and the orders made quickly by the Court.

The time-frame will very much depend on how negotiations progress with your ex-partner. Often this comes down to how reasonable the parties are. Sometimes properties need to be valued and that can take a week or two to arrange.

If the negotiations go well and/or an informal conference can be arranged quickly (within 4 to 8 weeks), there is no reason why final Consent Orders could not be made within 10 to 12 weeks of your first appointment.

If No Agreement can be reached:

In cases where negotiations are unsuccessful, we will advise you of your options. These options could include attending mediation, filing an Application in the Court or attending a settlement conference (conciliation conference). We will accurately advise you of the costs that will be incurred in each of these options and will give you a timeline with respect to how long this Court process will take.

Sometimes it’s necessary to file and Application as a time limitation period is running out and Agreement hasn’t been reached.

Sometimes matters are urgent and it’s necessary to file and Application for the Court to make Interim Orders. We will always discuss the costs with you in advance.

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At OSheaDyer Solicitors we can assist you with all issues arising from your separation.  Make an appointment to see our experienced family lawyers sooner rather than later and let us put your mind at ease. Take the first step towards feeling in control again and call us on 4772 5155.

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