At the time of separation, parties can often “reach agreement” on a number of family law issues. For example, one party may say, “we will go equal on everything” in relation to their property settlement. The other party agrees, but then… time passes. That party gets legal advice, talks to friends, reconsiders their position and decides that they are not happy with the arrangement that was initially agreed to verbally. The question is then: Is that original verbal agreement binding, or should it be formalised?
Unfortunately, a verbal agreement like the example above is unlikely to stand up in family law.
This is for a number of reasons:
It is important for financial/property matters that any agreement reached is recorded in writing and then filed with the Court. The Court will determine if the agreement is fair and equitable and, if so, will issue Court orders. If parties do not seek Court orders (which are binding), there is always the opportunity the other party will come back and seek further monies at a later time.
When separation is relatively amicable, and a verbal agreement has been reached, parties can be hesitant to have lawyers involved. They may think this will cause a fracture in the otherwise amicable dynamic and/or be an unnecessary costly exercise
The involvement of lawyers does not always need to be this way.
As the person instructing the lawyer, you could either:
Have a first appointment with a family lawyer to see if they will be the right fit for you and that they understand that an amicable relationship with your former partner is paramount. Seeking professional guidance as to the process that is best for you and your family situation is crucial to a successful result.
Speak to the lawyer about the verbal agreement reached between you and your former partner and whether the lawyer considers that agreement falls within the broad discretion of what a Court would order (and thereby make orders).
Our team at Meillon & Bright often work with parties and colleagues to draft agreements reached between the two individuals. It is always a pleasure to assist those who, whilst separated, can communicate amicably. For these families, we are committed to ensuring we practice law in a way which promotes this relationship continuing positively beyond the separation.
Family Lawyers Perth & Sydney
The information contained in this article is of general nature and should not be construed as legal advice. If you require further information, advice or assistance for your specific circumstances, please contact Meillon & Bright Family Lawyers.