Family Law

If you are looking for a family lawyer, it is likely that you are going through a difficult time in your life that is both personal and emotionally draining. Our experienced team will guide you through the legal issues with compassion to help make the process as smooth as possible while achieving fair and workable results. We are excellent negotiators and litigators including: 

  • Separation and divorce
  • De facto relationships
  • Property settlement / dividing your assets
  • Children’s matters and parenting arrangements
  • Domestic violence matters
  • Child support issues
  • Adoption and relocation

In addition, we have experienced lawyers on hand to help you with your property, wills and estate planning, and other related matters that often arise after separation or divorce.

Why Use a Family Lawyer?

When a relationship breaks down, ex-partners often start out hoping to settle matters informally and privately. Few people relish having lawyers and the courts involved in their personal business. In some cases, separating couples can agree on what is best for everyone. Often, however, agreement is never reached, or the wheels fall off negotiations as time passes or dynamics change. Concerningly, some private agreements are inherently unfair, and the power forces of the old relationship may continue to play out.

Whether or not you are on reasonable terms with your ex-partner, we recommend obtaining independent family law advice to ensure that:

  • You understand your legal position and rights and have the help you need to negotiate a fair outcome.
  • You understand the effect and implications of your proposed arrangements.
  • Any agreement reached is formally documented in accordance with the family law system, so it is legally enforceable.

Getting a Divorce

A divorce is the legal process of ending a marriage. An application for divorce may be made individually or jointly through the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia on the basis that your relationship has irretrievably broken down. You must be separated for 12 months before a making the application and, if you have children, the court must be satisfied that proper arrangements are in place for their care.

You do not have to be divorced before settling your financial affairs however, once a divorce is granted there is a 12-month limitation period within which to bring court proceedings for property settlement or spousal maintenance.

What About De Facto Couples?

De facto couples can also access remedies under family law legislation. In some cases, you may need to prove you were in a de facto relationship, and we can assist you with this. A number of factors will be considered to determine whether an unmarried couple were in a de facto relationship, for example, the length and nature of the relationship, financial dependence or interdependence, the care and support of children, or whether the relationship was registered under state law.

For de facto partners, any court proceedings for a property settlement must be commenced within 2 years of separating.

Dividing your Property

When a couple gets together, this usually involves pooling their resources. For some couples this might be as simple as buying some furniture together. For others, it means a long history of working towards common financial goals. In either case, when the relationship ends, family law sets out a formula for how to divide this property up again.

It is possible to contract out of some of the rules of the family law system and settle your financial affairs without court intervention. For instance, you can enter into a binding financial agreement (BFA) with your partner which operates like a private contract between the parties and sets out how assets will be divided.

In many cases, however, you may be better off having consent orders approved by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia which is often considered a more formal approach to finalising a property settlement. Typically, you will not have to attend court to have your orders approved.

Determining what is “fair” in a property settlement depends on what each party brought to the relationship, how each person contributed during the relationship, and each person’s future economic needs.

It is important to know that “contributions” to a relationship are not just from paid employment. Family law recognises that domestic contributions (whether this is childcare, household duties, or emotional and social support) are critical to the achievement of financial goals. We can provide an estimate of what percentage of the total property pool you should seek and assist with your negotiations to finalise a property settlement that is fair and equitable.

Children and Parenting Matters

The focus of parenting rules in the Australian family law system is the “best interests” of the child. There is no concept of parental “rights”, only of parental “responsibilities”. There is also no such thing as “custody” of a child, only their “care”.

The law starts from the presumption that it is best for a child to have an active relationship with both parents. In Australia, the starting point is that both parents have equal and shared responsibility for their child. This means that each parent is equally responsible for the care and support of the child, but not necessarily that a child will spend half of their time with each parent which may not be practical for every family nor in the child’s best interests. There is however an expectation that each parent will spend at least “significant” time with their child.

The presumption that a child should have an active relationship with both parents can be rebutted by circumstances such as significant domestic violence or severe substance abuse in the home.

We can help you put in place workable parenting arrangements for your children whether through a parenting plan, or consent orders which are approved by the court.

If you need assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected]  or call 07 3391 7511 for expert legal advice.