Property settlement family court

Keeping your Costs down in Family Law

We all want the best outcome we can possibly have from your Family Law journey. Whether it be by mediation or Court. In a perfect world, everyone would have equally  knowledgeable  and  conscientious lawyers to represent them. The reality, though , is that good lawyers are quite expensive, and sometimes people have to settle for lawyers who would not usually be their first choice.


Journey Lawyers  have found a way around that. We have many clients who have been able to use our services even though they are not the financially strong party.  We are some of the good lawyers, but having options for keeping costs down makes us affordable to more people.  Here’s three ways that we do it.

1 We get our clients to do as much as they can for themselves. Its just like labouring for the tiler, or builder. You do the stuff you can and that doesn’t need legal experience. You then get us to do the legal stuff, like Court documents,  attending Court with you, and advising you along the way.  People who do this are well able to answer the many letters that usually come about times and dates for children’s visits, for example, or answer letters asking for copies of documents. It saves the costs of us having to read the letter in the first place, then saves the costs of us having to send it to you to get instructions, and then saves you the costs of us writing back to the lawyer. That saving of about 20 minutes legal work can save you lots. Multiply that by 10 or so letters and you can see that you have made a big difference to your legal bills.

2. We offer fixed fees for just about everything we do. Just ask. We will work out what amount of work your particular case should need, and then we quote it as a fixed fee. You can budget for each step.

3. If your ex partner has control of joint funds, then we can apply to the Court for an interim distribution of funds to help you with your legal fees.  ONce we have that money for you, creating a “level playing field” so to speak, then you can still use options above to make the most of your money.

By the way, you will also get a bill every week so you can keep track of your spending.

So there you have it. this is how we keep costs down for our clients.



Happy Kids

Co-parenting over School Holidays


Take time to Plan ahead:


Co-parenting during School holiday arrangements for the children can be hard .
School Holidays can be hard even in a non separated household.
Both parents may need to work and both parents may want to have time off with the children.
It is just as hard for the children, sometimes.
It’s a mistake to talk about “the children” as though they were a single unit rather than kids of different ages and personalities.
So to co-parent through the holidays, we have to find a way to satisfy the individual needs of the people involved.
It’s best if the discussions about holidays takes place in plenty of time before the holidays so that the holiday time arrangements can be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.


Various Options for Holiday Time Co-parenting:


Parents can use a combination of vacation care, accrued annual leave and grandparents to get through the holiday break.
In Janet Baxter’s study of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, she noted that some kids have been staying home by themselves while their parents worked.
The statistics show that more and more families are using School holiday programs or ” vacation care”.
Whatever plan you make for your family, it is always best to do it with civility and avoid involving the children in any conflict.

Its extra stress for everyone if the arrangements are vague or uncertain. Once everyone knows what co-parenting arrangements are going to be in place, then the children and the parents can relax and enjoy their holidays.


What to do if you can’t agree:


If you and your ex partner can’t agree well in advance of the holidays, think about going to mediation. There you should  to try to resolve the issues with the help of a mediator or counsellor who is registered as a Family Dispute Resolution Provider (FDRP). If you want to find an FDRP, then click HERE  .

If that fails, then you can ask for a S 60(1) certificate from the Family Dispute Resolution Provider. You may have to go to Court to get arrangements for school holidays.  You will need to file a section 60(i) certificate with your application. Sometimes, if you see a Family Lawyer then the lawyer may first write a letter to the other parent to see if there is a possibility of agreement. We almost always try to resolve  matters this way. If there is urgency or the other parent has absolutely refused to engage in sensible co-parenting discussions, you may need to go to Court.


The Journey Brisbane Family Lawyers difference :


  1. 1. We offer fixed fees for a letter to your ex partner. We also can do fixed fees  for bringing an application up to the end of  its first day in Court.
  2. 2. Our clients have been able to get affordable representation by using our unique step in-step out process.  The clients then manage the case on their own in  between Court events, only calling on their lawyer for help when they need it.
  3. 3. We also travel to Rockhampton for the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court and do not charge for travel and accommodation in Rockhampton.


Just call and ask for a fixed fee quote, or email us or call for an appointment on (07) 38325999 ( for North Lakes, Strathpine and Brisbane City Offices.

We acknowledge using some information from the 2013 paper by  Janet Baxter of the Australian Institute of Family Studies.  familylawyer - Successful Co-ParentingYou can read it HERE .

How to choose your Family Lawyer.

The Top Things to Consider When Choosing Your Family Lawyer.
In your whole life, you may need the services of a good divorce lawyer only once. If you are lucky, you may never go through separation and divorce.

Still, if you find yourself in that situation, here are a few things you need to consider so you can choose the best lawyer for you.

These tips help whether you are choosing a Brisbane Family Lawyer or a divorce lawyer in another state.

1. Check the Firm’s background – While you are choosing a lawyer your divorce, first make sure to check the background of your lawyer. Questions such as How long has the Family Lawyer has been practising? What is the Family Lawyer’s Education? What reputation does the lawyer have?  A good reputation?  Or not so good. And a reputation for what? Some lawyers have a reputation for going hard for the client. The key to whether that is a good or bad thing is proportionality. It’s not hard to simply follow up every little issue on a property case.  Any one can do that. The benefit of a great lawyer is that they know which things are worth spending your money on. These things matter a lot.

2. What kind of law he or she or the law firm practices – Well, there are plenty of law firms who practice all sorts of  general law, but if you have a divorce case, you should consider using a firm that specialises in Family Law.  If you have a lawyer who is not a Family Lawyer on top of the changes to Family Law from time to time, then you may be quite disadvantaged.

3. Ask other lawyers or call the Queensland Law Society. – They will know someone who has a reputation as a sensible Family Lawyers who will run your case efficiently and effectively.  For example sometimes an accountant or Criminal or tax lawyer will  know who the best family lawyers are.

4.Then you should consult yourself. After you have had an initial phone conversation with a  Brisbane Family Lawyer you should be able to answer these questions.  ( By the way, beware of lawyers who are unavailable to talk to you or who will only chat if you pay for the call.)

a. Is this lawyer going to be able to help you with your family law problem or did they seem unsure?

b. Was the Family lawyer you spoke to polite and interested in your case? Does she or he have a plan?

c. Are you comfortable with the lawyer and the ethos of the Family Law Firm. Could you tell the lawyer everything?Is the lawyer a good ” fit” with you in communication style?
d. Do you feel that your lawyer would understand your priorities, and respond on time
e. Are you okay and comfortable with the fee structure? Can you afford the Family Lawyer? Were you able to discuss fee options up front with the lawyer.

f. Are you comfortable with the terms of the fee agreement and/or Family Law representation agreement?


Pre Nup

Prenuptial Agreements or Pre-Nups

Click here for Journey Family Lawyers pre nups video.

A binding pre-nup costs time and money/ $5500 fixed fee. Don’t risk a cheap prenup. It may cost you $$$$$$$ in the long run if it can be overturned. More and more couples who are marrying or commencing to live together are wanting to have a pre-nuptial agreement to protect any assets they had before commencing living together or getting married.

WHY? there is an increase in parents and family members helping young couples with loans, guarantees or gifts because property prices are so high and the  property market is hard for a young couple to get into. The Family Court has traditionally treated loans from family members with scepticism, often dividing the property between both parties even though the parents only contributed the money to help their daughter or son.

The leading case on this is:

Biltoft and Biltoft [1995] FamCA 45; (1995) FLC 92-614, the Full Court said , “the Court has indicated that it may properly determine not to take into account or to discount the value of an unsecured liability in certain circumstances. Such liabilities would include but are not limited to a liability which is vague or uncertain, if it is unlikely to be enforced or if it was unreasonably incurred.”

A Pre-Nup is one way to deal with the assets as if they were just for the benefit of one party, and not enrich the spouse in the event of divorce.

Pre Nups are very difficult to draft in order to achieve the right outcome. A cheap/ rushed or do it yourself  pre-nuptial agreement may be overturned more easily than a financial agreement where all precautions have been taken and all necessary documentation has been carefully done. This costs money. But it may be a good investment for peace of mind of the couple and their families.




Mediation is often an effective process to deal with Family Law issues. In Family Law disputes, no-one wants to go to Court.  At Journey, we offer an alternative option of Mediation between the parties to settle disputes.

Mediation works with property and childrens’ issues though there are some disadvantages as well as advantages. This article is designed to explain the Mediation process and allow people to judge whether their case is suitable for Mediation.

In just about all Family Law cases, there are Court-sponsored Mediation opportunities. Almost certainly in any Court action there will be a Mediation or Conciliation Conference arranged.

Advantages of Mediation

Mediation can be quicker than going to Court. It can also be faster in getting an outcome and it is certainly less stressful than going to Court. The costs of a successful Mediation could be less than that of a Court process. As well, Mediation can result in an agreement with terms that a Court could not arrange but are more suitable to the participants.

All parties to a Family Law dispute are strongly recommended to consider Mediation as a process (though there are some prerequisites). In some areas, such as children’s matters, an attempt at Mediation is compulsory before commencing Court proceedings.

Disadvantages of Mediation

Whilst the costs can be lower than that of Court action, both parties must be committed to the process. If they are not, there is the danger that considerable moneys can be spent on a Mediation with no outcome. When that happens, the next step is to issue Court proceedings and the costs of the Mediation process are wasted. It is therefore important, before agreeing to a Mediation, to be satisfied that the other party is genuine in their desire to settle the matter.

Sometimes, a party to a dispute is aware their position is unreasonable. To avoid Court and to delay matters as long as possible, they will often agree to Mediation with no intention of accepting a reasonable outcome.

Further, if you have limited funds, a party should not expend all their available funds on a Mediation and then when it fails to provide an outcome, there are no funds available to take the matter to Court. In that situation, it is far better to issue Court proceedings and then go to Mediation under the umbrella of Court proceedings.


Advantage of Court-sponsored Mediation

Once Court proceedings have been instituted, the Court system will come into effect and the case is managed by that system kzcipy6. This will include processes that include Mediation and/or conciliation processes. Often this type of Mediation is the best. There are a number of reasons. Firstly, with the “threat” of Court proceedings, parties are more inclined to make a genuine effort to settle a matter. Secondly, if a party has been un-cooperative in the preliminary steps, the Court will take note of that and can impose sanctions on the recalcitrant party. Thirdly, if the other party is completely uncooperative, you still have the Court process to move forward to finalise your case.


Pre-requisites for Mediation

There are some factors that need to be considered before going to Mediation. Firstly, is the other party being cooperative and in the case of property matters, is the other party making full disclosure of their financial interests?

Secondly, if the likely outcome of Court action (or the Mediation), is that the other party will be in a significantly less advantageous position, the likelihood of a successful Mediation will be less.

There can be indicators whether the other party going to genuinely take part in the Mediation process. For example, have there been some preliminary negotiations and offers? Has the other party cooperated with the pre-Mediation steps, for instance, if the dispute is about property? Has the other party made full disclosure of their financial position, or, are they refusing to accept values (or get values) of assets like real estate? Have they been slow in responding to letters and requests? If they are not being cooperative at the pre-Mediation steps, they are unlikely to be cooperative at the Mediation and, unlikely to come to an agreement at a Mediation.

If there is doubt in either of these issues, consideration should be given to using the Court-sponsored Mediation options rather than waste money on a Mediation that is unlikely to succeed.


Costs of Mediation

Mediation can often cost as much as commencing Court proceedings. Your case needs to be prepared to present to the other party and the mediator. There will be costs for your legal advisor to prepare and attend. As well, each party normally pays half the costs of a mediator. A mediator will generally charge between $1500 to $5000 depending on their skills and seniority. You therefore need to budget anywhere from $3000 upwards for a Mediation.


How does a Mediation Work?

The actual Mediation process varies as different mediators use different processes. Some require a lot of information before the Mediation day and some require a “face-to-face” meeting with each party. It does not usually make much difference (except as to costs).

On the Mediation day, both parties attend and meet usually with their legal advisors. The parties are expected to sit in joint sessions with everyone and can also expect the mediator will see each party separately. The mediator will try and identify which issues are in contention and which ones are not; then they assist the parties in working towards a resolution. In many cases, the eventual agreement involves compromise by both parties and that needs to be understood.

If a party feels uncomfortable being in the same presence of the other party, the Mediation can proceed with each party being in separate rooms and the mediator talking to them separately through the process.

Once an agreement has been reached, it is normally reduced to a written form. In the Family Court system, the Lawyers would normally then prepare Consent Orders for subsequent signing by the parties.


What should I do?

When deciding on the Mediation process, you should consider the likely costs and possibility of success. Talk to your legal advisor about whether they think it is worthwhile. Our Lawyers practice exclusively in Family Law and have develop a sense whether a party is going to cooperate. Whilst they cannot guarantee an outcome, they can assist you in your decision.

If you are not sure the other party will cooperate, the alternative may be to issue proceedings and use the Court-sponsored Mediation process to resolve the issues. Remember, almost all Family Law cases are resolved through the process, including Mediation and conciliation. Very few cases even end up in a full Trial. Even the most stubborn person, faced with going to Court if they do not agree to a (reasonable) proposition, will usually accept the inevitability of the Court process and give in!





Going to Court


Most people find seeing a Lawyer as a daunting experience. The thought of “going to Court” is an even more frightening experience. This is particularly so with family and partnership breakdowns. People who have suffered the personal tragedy of a partnership breakdown mainly want to sort out the issues and move on.

As a result, many people prefer to do anything or agree to any type of arrangement, to avoid going to Court. What people do not realise is that, in the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court, the purpose of “going to Court” is not to embark on a long a costly Court process but rather to put their Family Law dispute is a framework that strongly encourages all parties to work towards a negotiated agreement.

The Family Law Court process is focussed heavily on facilitating negotiated settlements. Overall, at least 90% of property settlements are negotiated and settled without a Court Hearing.

In children’s matters, once Court proceedings are filed, there are usually Family Reports Ordered and again, a process of negotiation and Mediation occurs. Many seemingly-impossible cases are worked out and Consent Orders are made.


Why “Going to Court” works for some people.

Property Disputes

Often in property disputes, the parties have different objectives and usually the party who has control of most of the assets is reluctant to agree to an arrangement whereby they have to hand over a significant portion of their assets to the other party. In these circumstances, it is almost inevitable that one party will not negotiate willingly.

The Law recognises this and has, in place, a process to force the reluctant party to participate in the negotiation process. When Court proceedings are instigated in property matters, the first action the Court will require is that all parties disclose their financial circumstances and participate in Mediation or negotiation.

Once a party is in the system and the Court is forcing them to accept the circumstances, the chances of a negotiated or mediated outcome increase substantially. This is where most property matters settle.

If you do not embark on this process, the other party is likely to drag out the whole dispute. They probably do not have any intention of negotiating in good faith. It is only when the Court proceedings are instituted that they realise they have to engage in proper negotiations.

Usually the case goes further where one party cannot bring themselves to give property to the other party. In those rare cases, out of court negotiations will never work and any time or money spent on them will be wasted. For those rare cases, the Court system provides an answer.

Children’s Cases

With children’s cases, it is sometimes very difficult to work out what is best for the children. In these cases, typically a Court will, at the start, put in temporary arrangements for the children and then have an enquiry as to the family circumstances. It will probably Order a Family Report to be done by a social worker or psychologist to look at the family situation. It may make enquiries of other government bodies and it may, in extreme cases, Order an Independent Children’s Lawyer to be appointed to represent the children themselves.

Again, all this process has the effect of identifying the issues and working out solutions. Often the matters involve Mediation and end with Consent Orders.


Our Recommended Process

Other than in urgent cases (such as in child recovery matters), we usually start a case by writing to the other party and inviting them to take part in negotiations or perhaps Mediation. If they respond positively, we recommend that process be followed.

If, however, the other party fails to respond or responds negatively, we would recommend initiating Court proceedings immediately. Sending lots of letters and demands cost time and money and, if the other party is not going to cooperate, you are wasting both.

Once proceedings are commenced, negotiations and Mediation can occur within the framework of the Court system. If the other party does not cooperate, the Court process will force them to do so.


Costs when you “go to Court”?

Some people are worried that the costs will be much higher if you go to Court navigate to this website. This is normally not true. If you have tried to negotiate and have received a negative response, to continue to use a Lawyer to cajole the other party to cooperate is usually wasted money.  We have had cases where clients are adamant they do not want to go to court, and in the end after consideration time effort and cost have gotten nowhere.

You should always discuss your costs and likely outcomes so that the Lawyer can plan your case in the context of your financial situations. If in doubt, ask your Lawyer.


Are you frightened to “go to Court”?

Court can be daunting but your Lawyer is there to guide you through the system and manage the process to get the best outcome for you. You will almost certainly never be called to talk or give evidence at a Court appearance. Your Lawyer will do all the talking and your primary role is to be available for negotiations and Mediation that are likely to occur outside the Court room. Again, your Lawyer will do most of the talking; you are there to tell them what you want.

Our Experience:

All the Lawyers at Journey specialise exclusively in Family Law. They do hundreds of cases each year and are familiar with the system and how best to finalise a matter. If they recommend that an Application be made to Court, they are making that recommendation based on experience with the system and parties who are involved in the process. Similarly, if they recommend a negotiation or Mediation, they are making that recommendation based on their experience and their assessment of your case. It is important that you accept their advice you that you can benefit from the Court system.

Why Choose Journey Family Lawyers?

Why Choose Journey Family Lawyers

Journey Family Lawyers are the largest specialist Family Law firm in Queensland. We only do Family Law and we are experts at it. We give strategic and practical advice suitable to your needs. If you need information and a plan to move forward, we can give it; if you need assistance in negotiating an agreement, we can assist you and, if you need an expert firm to assist you in court, we are the ones to protect your interest and fight for you.

Journey Family Lawyers encourages clients to reach agreement but if you are not able to do so, we are there to support you with clear and frank advice about your options and costs to get your case finalised. We take a lot of effort in getting you through the journey of separation as quickly as possible. We realise that every day you wake up with an unresolved Family Law matter, is a day less perfect than it should be. We aim to reduce the number of days to as few as possible.

You are free to have the case the way you want but with Journey Family Lawyers, you will have the expert guidance and advice that you need to make the right decisions for you and your family.


If you are worried about costs, then we can help you have certainty.

Our fixed fees can give you clarity about your costs so you can budget for them. Even if you have not got a fixed fee agreement with us, you will get a bill most weeks when we have worked on your case. this means you know exactly what you are paying for and exactly what we are doing for you. In most cases, we encourage our clients to do as much of the necessary work on their file as they feel comfortable doing.  We step in and do the rest. If the case is dormant and just waiting on an event such as a Family Report or a trial, then we can notify the court that we are not acting and the client can handle the day to day correspondence for themselves, getting us involved only if they need advice.

Know Where you Stand

When a couple separate, people really need to know where they stand early on. If you can find out what your entitlement will be, or what is the likely outcome about the children, then you can prepare to prepare and plan,

Often people ask around for advice and there are many “war” stories about Family Law and separation. The trouble is that there is “no one size fits all”. Often the advice people get is wrong. This well meaning advice from family and friends can result in either unrealistic expectations or in nightmares about how the whole case goes.

At Journey, we strongly believe that you should firstly find out where you stand with property and children. Sometimes early advice will assist in maximising your entitlement. As experts practicing only in Family Law, we are able to give you that advice.  As well we offer strategies and options for you to best deal with the issues you have.  Our aim is to take you through the journey of separation and settlement.

We recommend that if you have just separated or are thinking of separating you come in for a “one off” consultation to find out where you stand and how best to deal with all the issues. One or two of our skilled lawyers will spend an hour or so with you. By the end, you should know where you stand and have some options to move forward.

Negotiation and Mediation

Most cases in Family Law are settled by negotiation or mediation. We strongly support the process of trying to mediate the outstanding issues between the parties rather than just going to court.. Sometimes the parties can do this themselves and we are able to support clients in that situation by advising them of their rights and options. In other cases where the relationship of the parties is not so good, a more formal mediation or negotiation process can be adopted. At Journey, we believe in using the best tools to get you a good outcome. If you use Journey, we can work out a case plan to best suit your needs to solve the issues. Our lawyers are well skilled at negotiating and assisting in mediations and will be able to help you through the process.

Going to Court

Sometimes a party just has to go to court. This often happens when the other party is being unreasonable. At Journey we are skilled specialist Family Lawyers; when the gloves come off,  we will fight for your rights to make sure you are not disadvantaged by another party. Being the biggest specialist family law firm in Queensland, we are regularly in court and our lawyers are skilled in court actions.

Will legal will signing

Family Lawyers with a Positive approach

If you need an  an honest assessment of your likely outcomes and options, then call Journey Lawyers  now to discuss your case for free, and perhaps book a one hour conference to find out exactly where you stand. 07 38325999

Journey Family Lawyers are  leading specialists in Family Law and Defacto Law. We practice solely in Divorce and Separation, particularly property and children’s matters. Each of our lawyers has decided to dedicate their career to this type of Law and helping people through their Divorce or separation legal issues.

Our firm is different to other Family Law firms for the simple reason that our whole aim is to get you through your separation in one piece, both emotionally and financially by being proactive in each case, because we know that every day that your case drags on is a stressful one for you and your family. Each our lawyers carry fewer files than many firms require,  and this means they can focus on progressing your case quickly.

We try to mediate matters as our first choice but sometimes a matter has to go to Court because one party is being unreasonable. We are not only good mediators but we are very experienced at going to Court and standing up for our clients rights to get the best outcome. Because we are specialist Family Lawyers, we understand the processes to give you the best outcome possible.

Our clients appreciate  a realistic assessment of the likely outcome of their case. If you need an  an honest assessment of your likely outcomes and options, then call us now to discuss your case for free, and perhaps book a one hour conference to find out exactly where you stand. These conferences cost $143.00 including GST and thousands of people have been able to use this conference to get their lives back on track. If your case needs our further involvement, then we promise to be up front about costs and work with you to keep your costs down as much as possible.


We are a city firm based in Spring Hill, Brisbane, but we are also a suburban firm with fully-manned offices on the Sunshine Coast and in Strathpine as well.

Our unique team approach means that there is usually at least 2 lawyers who know your case and, if you can not contact your lawyer for some reason (he or she may be in Court in with another client) then, if it is urgent, you can usually talk to another lawyer without having to repeat your situation.

Answers to Urgent Blog Questions

I answer every blog question personally, so sometimes you may have to wait a day or so for me to reply. If your matter is urgent, please phone our law firm to get some free advice . The firm is Journey Family Lawyers, and their number is 07 38325999 in Brisbane, 07 54431120 in Maroochydore, 07 32059000 in Strathpine.

Otherwise, check back in a day or so when I should have answered everything.

All the best,



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Legal Aid

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