Family law matters are typically some of the most confronting and challenging to navigate. When a marriage or de facto relationship breaks down, it is important that each party is independently advised. Retaining competent family law representation can help the parties reach timely, cost-effective, workable solutions. We have been providing clients with realistic family law advice focused on their property and parenting rights, and the rights of their children, for many years. We can assist with:
- Divorce applications
- Financial agreements and consent orders
- Applications for property settlements
- Parenting arrangements and children’s issues
- Child support applications
- Spousal maintenance
- Representation at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia
Applying for a Divorce
You can apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for a divorce if you have been separated for at least 12 months and there is no chance that you and your spouse will get back together. There is no need to prove fault and you may still apply if you have been “separated” but are still living under the same roof which may be due to financial circumstances or for reasons relating to the care of children.
The divorce order takes full effect one month after the court grants it. A court may delay making a divorce order if they are concerned that satisfactory arrangements for the care of children are not in place at the time of the application for divorce.
A property settlement involves the division of assets, liabilities, and financial resources between a couple whose relationship has broken down. Property settlements are usually decided out of court, but if you are unable to come to an agreement, you might have to make an application for the court’s intervention.
A legal property settlement enables the parties to move on with their respective financial activities, helps protect them from future claims, and may facilitate relevant duty concessions when transferring certain assets like real estate.
The division of assets can be achieved through consent orders, a financial agreement, or court proceedings.
Consent orders are filed with the court on application of the parties. You will not usually need to attend court to have the orders made and, if the proposed orders are considered just and equitable, the court will grant them which means they will be legally binding.
A financial agreement may also be used to settle the division of your property after a relationship ends however, some lawyers recommend consent orders as a more formal way to finalise your property affairs. A financial agreement is a written agreement between the parties that complies with certain formal requirements. The agreement is not approved by the court however both parties must receive independent legal advice before entering into the agreement.
In some circumstances it may be appropriate to seek other forms of financial support, for example, spousal maintenance, where one partner from the former relationship provides financially for the other.
Time limits apply for taking court proceedings for the division of property, so it is a good idea to get early advice so if making an application becomes necessary, you will be prepared. It is important that you are aware of all the implications before you finalise a property settlement and our experienced lawyers can assist and guide you through the process.
Children and Parenting Arrangements
Agreements or orders can be made about a range of issues relating to children including where the children will live, how much time they spend with each parent, who will make decisions for the child, and specific issues relating to education or healthcare. All decisions must be made based on what is in the best interests of the child and require consideration of the benefit of the child having a meaningful relationship with both of their parents, and the need to protect a child from harm.
Whether you need a formalised parenting agreement, some advice, or somebody to assist in discussions or negotiations, our experienced lawyers are available to help.
Financial Agreements – ‘Pre-Nups’
Whether you are entering into a new relationship or are already in one and have concerns about your respective assets, it might be a good idea to enter into a financial agreement with your partner or spouse. These agreements are also known as binding financial agreements, pre-nups, and cohabitation agreements. A financial agreement can provide a level of certainty to both parties about what will happen in the event of a relationship breakdown. This might protect assets existing prior to the relationship (particularly important if you have children from a previous relationship), protect a business from closure if a relationship breaks down, or outline what is to happen with an inheritance.
Mediation and Family Dispute Resolution
Mediation is a confidential and low-cost way of trying to resolve a family law matter. It involves the parties meeting face to face with an impartial third party, who assists them in reaching a solution. A mediator does not provide legal advice or determine the outcome of the dispute. Mediation is a suitable method for parties who hope to preserve their relationship, for example, if they seek to co-parent or work together in the future. Family Dispute Resolution is a special kind of mediation for family law matters involving children. In most cases, attending Family Dispute Resolution will be mandatory before making an application to court for parenting matters.
We work with our clients to try to resolve their family law issues without the need for expensive court proceedings. Any agreement reached can be made legally binding in accordance with the requirements of the Family Law Act. Despite negotiation and mediation however, sometimes an agreement simply cannot be reached, and court proceedings are necessary. In such cases, our lawyers are well equipped to represent you throughout the court process to achieve the best outcome possible.
If you need assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call 02 9949 4022 for expert legal advice.