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Tips to reduce family law solicitor legal costs

Peter Hooper accredited family law specialist is a Brisbane Family Lawyer and Director of Hooper Mill Family Lawyers, a family law firm in Brisbane practicing exclusively in Family and Relationship Law.

Most family lawyers in Brisbane, and across the country, time cost. Therefore it stands to reason that if you’re able to assist your lawyer to reduce their time, you will save money on fees.

One of the areas where a lot can be done to assist your lawyer in reducing time is with affidavits required to be filed in family law matters in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia.

What is an affidavit? It is a sworn statement of the evidence you will rely upon at a hearing in family law cases. In most family law matters your evidence in chief, that is the facts supporting your case, is communicated in a affidavit format.

The affidavit is your story told by you and therefore if you know some of the rules about producing an affidavit, and produce a good draft yourself in a Word format, you can help reduce your costs. Here are some tips:

What are the requirements? – The rules for each jurisdiction set out the requirements and are summarised below. You can find the Rules by clicking the links below or by visiting the relevant Court websites:

  • Rule 15.08 Family Law Rules 2004 “FLR” and rule 15.25 Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 “FCCR” (Div 15.4 FCCR) provide for the use of the printed forms. Again the forms are available in a Word format on the Court Website or on our website via the following link: Hooper Mill Family Lawyers forms.
  • The forms have places for the names of the parties, official court section to be completed and the statement at the end to be completed by the qualified witness i.e. JP/Commissioner for Declarations or solicitor;
  • Rule 15.09 FLR – the affidavit should be:

o      Confined to the facts in dispute relevant to the issues in the case;

o      Confined to admissible evidence;

o      Consecutively numbered paragraphs;

o      Sworn in the presence of the qualified witness;

o      Signed on each page;

o      Filed in court;

o      Any alterations should be initially by person swearing and witness;

o—Use words for the month in a date i.e. 30 May 2014 and figures for

number i.e. $20 for twenty dollars.

o      Annexures – need to be attached and referenced etc.

  • Rule 24.01 FLR the affidavit should:

o      Written legibly – preferably types in a 12 point font;

o      Be on A4 sized paper;

o      Have left and right margins so it can be read when bound but no more than a 2.5cm margin;

o      Be at 1.5cm line spacing.

The affidavit is your story but tell your story in chronological order i.e. start at the beginning and work towards the most recent relevant circumstances.

Don’t be afraid to use headings. Sometimes if the story needs to be broken up over several different topics, heading will allow you to group your topics into relevant areas. Headings can also assist you to organise your thoughts to cover everything you need to, and most importantly make your affidavit easier to read.

Make sure the affidavit is simple, clear and brief. Don’t use 40 words to say what you can in 4.

Affidavits are sworn documents that must be truthful. You may have to include something you think is bad for your case, make an apology, or make a positive acknowledgement of the other party. Being truthful is more important to your case than any other aspect and often more “points” can be scored with the judge by being truthful than contradicting what you perceive to be a fact in favour of the other party.

Complying with the rules will make your affidavit easier for the Judge to read; which means the facts you want the Judge to be aware of will be more easily understood.

Please remember it is not your job to form conclusion that is the Judge’s job. A good affidavit only sets out the “relevant factual matters”. Judges have a lot to consider and generally do not look favourably upon reading large volumes of unnecessary material.

Try and avoid emotive language and adverbs. This type of language tends to try and lead the Judge towards a conclusion. Adverbs are words that tell as more about a verb. For example John “simply” turned and walked away; or John “literally” slammed the door. Statements containing adverbs may lead the Judge to conclude a lack of credit or tendency to exaggerate.

Hopefully you have found this helpful but please note there are many other considerations to putting together a persuasive and effective affidavit. This blog is not intended to cover every circumstance and before filing your material; I recommend that you attend upon an accredited specialist family lawyer in Brisbane for advice.

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