Family Court Counselling & Domestic Violence Support is offered in the following ways:
- Evidence PREPARATION for property settlement,
- AFFIDAVIT preparation for Courts
- Access to Accommodation
- Exploring how to avoid using the Family Court if possible. They are overloaded.
- Access to Legal Advice, FAMILY COURT & VRO Representation
FAMILY COURT COUNSELLING
The counselling service at the Family Court is for children’s needs. At this stage, there is no funded Family Court counselling available to people who are just trying to prepare for property settlement.
The Family Court website and Information Sessions are great sources of many documents and processes. However, under such stressful conditions it is hard to remember what to do next and how to fill in the forms.
The amount of emotions and stress that people need to have heard and acknowledged, takes up alot of legal fees and complicates the lawyer’s job. The people that I have helped so far have found the counselling support extremely helpful in dealing with lawyers, emotions and saving money.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, having examples or somebody show you what your document will look like makes life so much easier, speeds up the process, reduces the impact on your life; and ensures that your information is organised in a manner that achieves what you are trying to do. Preferably, you will also be able to afford some legal advice and feedback also, especially on your final submission, before you file it. Having a counsellor reduces the legal costs, but does not replace legal advice.
This will ensure that important information is not missing, and also that you dont leave yourself open to unnecessary delays due to putting in information before it is needed. We can help you present things so that the lawyer needs to spend less time changing it, and costing you money, stress and time.
Reactions to Lawyers during Property Settlement
So many women get very upset when a lawyer omits copious detail in the early submissions which are simply for maintenance, child support or rent payments. Unfortunately, too much information often complicates and clouds the main issue and you may leave the Hearing without the priority that you need especially in your early applications or responses.
Trained, experienced counsellors can help clarify for you the purpose of each submission and help you get your supporting evidence organised so that it is accepted without complications. We can give you non-legal advice about the content [e.g., does it make sense?; can somebody outside of yourself understand what you are trying to say? and check whether you have evidence for what needs evidence]. We can give you ideas of what might be good enough evidence and check that you have included it before you give things to your lawyer.
Counsellors can help you overcome the procrastination that can get really bad, and also to cope with the stress and anxietyof going through this process.
We also help you cope with family and friend’s reactions, plus keep you on the path that you need to follow. It is so easy to give up, and to give in especially when others are putting pressure on you. We can help you weigh up the negatives and positives of your decisions, so that YOU make the best decision that you can, and reduce the amount of later regrets.
Coping with the Property Settlement System
The system is complex and confusing. We help you deal with lawyers, and ensure that your experience is not a disempowering one, and that instead therapeutic jurisprudence occurs. We can help you negotiate how services are provided and who represents you. Sometimes women feel like the lawyer is similar to the other party because of the system constraints and strong emotions involved in relationship breakdown. Sometimes you may feel that it would help to have mediation between you and the lawyer. It helps you both financially and emotionally, because many lawyers are too busy or not trained to counsel you.
We have had some group meetings where women have been able to share information and resources, and in between provide understanding and supportive friendship of other women who relate to what you are going through, as do our counsellors.
There are some free counselling and support services at the DV Court. We can refer you to a few very helpful Non-government agencies who provide some help and advice too. However at the time it may be rather intimidating to go to the court alone, or the services are over-loaded. We can also refer you to other expert specialised services, including legal representation. If the ‘other party’ has a lawyer for the Hearing, it is strongly advisable that you get legal representation.
If you are eligible for Legal Aid, then that is definitely the way to go. Please phone them first to see if you are eligible. If you are not eligible, we can refer you to good lawyers. We can accompany you to the lawyer if you feel it would be helpful.
Writing up a Victim Impact Statement for the lawyer can be very traumatising and we can provide you with the support and preferred format before you spend large amounts of time and money with the lawyer. You will still need to spend time on it, but we will also help speed up the process and ensure that the lawyer recieves information that is in a format with which they are familiar.
It is so much easier when you have headings and examples provided for you, which we can begin for you after listening to you for a short while. The lawyer will then provide advice and guidance on the steps that you will then need to follow. We can help you organise what they request [e.g., contacting witnesses, collecting evidence].