The Nature of the Beast
In the hands of an experienced cattleman, a bull, resisting a lead from the head, can usually be steered more effectively by holding and turning its tail. Deploying the same tactic for a troublesome horse however, is most likely to land the handler at the dentist for a new set of teeth. Fundamental to resolving a Family Law dispute is gaining an understanding of the characterisation of the issues at play. Typically, issues fall into three very distinct and vastly different types; factual, legal and personality.
Factual issues are usually static past events where one or both sides are attempting to rewrite history but can also include predictions about future events. For example, whether one spouse was or was not violent towards the other in the past or whether one spouses’ business will or will not recover from a present financial crisis.
Legal issues are generally the scope or range of possible decisions which might come from a Judge following a trial with or without factual issues. For example, a determination as to the value of a particular asset, the percentage division of property between spouses or with which parent the children should live.
Personality issues most commonly involve one or both sides being delusional about their prospects of convincing a Judge about a particular past historic event or the appropriate legal outcome to be applied. These issues aren’t always quarantined to the waring spouses and do occasionally infect or even rest more with the Lawyers who have been hired to guide them.
In the same way that the issues differ, so too are the strategies most effectively deployed to meet them.
Factual issues are best resolved by solid research. Careful reading of documents and asking the right questions about past events will in most cases present an irrefutable answer to the particular issue and conversely, failure to do this is the reason why many trials are forced to happen. Occasionally a legal issue is unavoidably controversial due to inconsistent decisions from superior Courts on the same or largely similar facts. Even in these cases however, experienced Lawyers on both sides should be able to steer both spouses to an outcome which sits comfortably within the range of probable outcomes that might have flowed from a judicial decision and again without causing both sides to suffer the worry and expense of a trial.
In some cases, personality issues become the most troublesome. Even for these persons however, strategies are available. Aggressive solutions can involve bringing on the prospect of a tax audit or a subpoena to a Bank Manager, business partner or medical records. In other scenarios the same strategies only exacerbate conflict and delivering something as simple as an opportunity to save face or a concession on a apparently unrelated and relatively harmless issue is all that is needed.
Whilst handling a lively family dispute rarely carries the same risks of physical injury as handling a bull or a horse, the consequences of misunderstanding the issues in play and how to manage them can quite easily deliver equally, if not greater, devastating effects both financially and emotionally. In most cases, the best strategy to deploy is to hire an experienced Family Law Solicitor with whom you feel comfortable.
Michael Zande is a Queensland Law Society accredited family law specialist with over 25 years experience in the field. He is the principal at Zande Law Solicitors, Suite 7, Norwinn Centre, 15 Discovery Drive, North Lakes. To contact Michael for advice phone 3385 0999.
The information in this article is merely a guide and is not a full explanation of the law. This firm cannot take responsibility for any action readers take based on this information. When making decisions that could affect your legal rights, please contact us for professional advice.