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Tips for Containing Legal Costs in Family Law Proceedings

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If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur! Almost 70% of divorce applications received by Australian courts have no legal representation, with many people avoiding legal advice, for fear of costs.

While some Family Law proceedings can be costly, getting proper legal advice is highly beneficial and can reduce your stress by providing you with clarity about your rights and the legal process.

Here are some ways that you can keep legal costs down without forsaking good legal support, recommended by Baker Love Lawyers associate Helen Day McMahon.

  • Get legal advice early from an experienced family law lawyer.
  • When you have made an appointment to see a solicitor, make a note of questions you want answered.
  • Make a complete list of your assets, liabilities and details of financial contributions before you see a lawyer. When you instruct a solicitor, time is money and less time spent by the solicitor extracting this information from you will mean more money kept in your pocket.
  • Avoid preparing complex legal documents on your own. Whilst initially you may save some money by not instructing a solicitor, you can spend a lot more money later, trying to fix the mistakes made in the absence of competent legal advice.
  • Avoid using litigation or protracted settlement discussions as a way to punish your Ex. Your Ex's past behaviour or even their present behaviour might be unpleasant, however it is best ignored - it's better to concentrate on the bigger picture; that is, reaching agreement as to arrangements for your children and/or property settlement. In the end, if you are using litigation to punish your Ex, you are really only punishing your wallet.
  • All the time you spend on your matter by a solicitor is charged to you at an agreed hourly rate. You may be able to save money in legal fees for example by leaving any basic telephone messages with any one of our legal assistants.
  • Negotiating a settlement on your behalf and litigating a matter are expensive endeavours. If at all possible, try to reach an agreement with your Ex sooner rather than later. Both parties will need to make concessions - in the long run, it is often better to resolve matters earlier by conceding some issues, which might appear important at the time, but may later assume less importance.
  • Provide full disclosure as to all of your financial interests. A failure to disclose any financial interest can have a devastating effect on any agreement you reach with your Ex.
  • Be prepared to compromise to settle your matter early.
  • Whilst Financial Agreements are not 100% water tight, they do come with many benefits, especially when you have entered into a Financial Agreement before or during a relationship/marriage. Seek advice about getting a Pre-Nuptial (Financial Agreement) as soon as possible.

More Information

If you need to speak to a solicitor about a Financial Agreement or if you are considering divorce proceedings, please contact our specialist family law team on
(02) 4944 3322.


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