From the information available, most people who separate reach their own agreement without going to court.
We also think that most people who reach their own agreement do so without the help of lawyers. People might not seek legal advice because of the cost, or because they are concerned it might damage relations with their former partner. They might get help from somewhere else. Or they might not be aware they have legal rights.
From the lawyers we have spoken to, we estimate that where people see a lawyer about property matters, the vast majority (around 80–90 per cent) will negotiate an agreement with their lawyer’s assistance. Some (around 10–15 per cent) will use mediation. Only a small number (around 5–10 per cent) have their matters decided by a court.
The number of people applying to court has declined over the last 10 years. When a dispute goes to court, the most common property in dispute is residential property, household items (such as the family car and furniture) and trust property.