Mistakes People Make in Family Court
With family law cases often creating a lot of stress, there are several mistakes people make in family court.
When people’s relationships break down, the first step is to try and resolve the situation through mediation, often with the help of a family lawyer.
If this fails, the dispute then moves to family court, where many cases come undone through simple mistakes made by the parties involved.
More often than not, litigants come to court thinking it will play out like a scene from Judge Judy, with a judge taking pity on the emotional upheaval they are experiencing.
Unfortunately, this is not the case, with the family court system taking into account facts and where applicable, what is in the best interests of the children involved.
The following mistakes, while not always made consciously, can negatively affect people’s family law cases dramatically.
Lying In Family Court
When you give evidence in Family Court you are under oath. No matter what your reason, if you are found to be lying under oath you are guilty of a criminal offence. Not only that, if you are found to be lying during cross-examination, it will destroy your credibility in the eyes of the judge overseeing your case.
While people in family law cases are often faced with difficult questions, particularly from opposing counsel, the best policy is always to tell the truth. A lie in court will always be deemed more serious that any perceived misstep you are trying to cover up in the process.
Non-Disclosure of Your Financial Situation
Anyone involved in an ongoing family law matter has a duty to disclose their financial situation to the court. This is clearly set out in rule 13.04 of the Family Law Rules, which states that a party to a financial case must make full and frank disclosure of the party’s financial circumstances.
This includes declaring:
– Any financial interests you have in any property including investment properties
– All income you receive from employment and/or business ventures
– Any interest you have in a trust; either as a trustee, beneficiary, shareholder or company director
– Any financial gifts of property you have disposed of since the dissolution of your relationship
– Any other financial resources available to you
This principle was further established in the marriage of BRIESE with the judge stating that ‘a person … has a positive obligation to set out at an early stage [their] financial position in a clear and comprehensive manner’. The court further stated that the need for ‘each party to understand the financial position of the other party is at the very heart of cases concerning property and maintenance.’
Non-disclosure of financial assets and income has seen many people come undone in family law cases when, often after very little digging, parties are found to be hiding the truth of their financial status.
Again, any time you are found lying by the Family Court you will be displaying yourself as untrustworthy and will less likely to be viewed favourably by the judge in any decision they hand down.
Involving Your Children in Your Family Law Matter
While it may seem unthinkable as a parent to involve your child in the details of your family law matter, when relationships turn sour, parents often lose their moral compass.
Speaking negatively to your children about your ex-partner and involving them in the acrimony of your family law case has at times, been shown to have detrimental effects on the emotional wellbeing of children.
Not only does it put your children in an unfair position, but it also reflects poorly upon your parenting skills. Badmouthing one’s ex is one of the biggest mistakes parents make in custody cases.
In fact, the family law court usually sees this as a massive oversight on the part of the offending parent and will not deem this to be putting the best interests of the child first.
In severe cases, talking negatively about the other parent, and oversharing in regard to the family law dispute, may affect the judge’s decision as to who receives child custody.
This can be exacerbated when the parent shares details of the family law case or posts negative comments about their ex on social media.
Posting Details about The Family Court on Social Media
Not many people know, but Section 121 of the Family Law Act makes it an offence to publish any information which can identify someone who is currently involved in a family law matter being determined by the court.
This means that any posts on social media that refer negatively to a person’s ex-partner, the judge, or the court case in general, are not only illegal but also show a lack of self-control and can have disastrous results for the poster.
When attending court for any family law matter it is also advisable to be respectful, make eye contact with the judge and lawyers and make sure you are well presented.
Many cases that come before the family law courts often come at a particularly stressful time. It is always advisable to gain professional legal advice about the mistakes people make in family court, and, if possible, retain a lawyer to represent you throughout the court proceedings.
Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.