Family Law

There is no such thing as an easy separation or divorce, but some of the legal stress can be eased with the right lawyer on your side. In addition to quality expert advice and strong representation, we believe that one of the best things we can offer our family law clients is empathy. We provide personalised services with open lines of communication and will work with you to achieve the best possible outcome in your circumstances.

Our team of specialist lawyers can assist in all areas of family law, including:

  • Divorce and separation
  • De facto relationships
  • Property and financial settlements
  • Financial Agreements
  • Children’s issues
  • Child support agreements

Applying for a Divorce

Australia has a no-fault divorce system, and married couples can apply for a divorce order from the court if their marriage has broken down irretrievably. Essentially, the parties must have been separated for a period of at least twelve months, however, in some circumstances, this time may include a period of separation under the one roof. If you have minor children, the court must be satisfied that suitable arrangements are in place for them, and you may be required to attend the court hearing.

Unless special grounds exist, if the marriage has been for less than two years, a certificate from a family counsellor confirming that you and your partner have considered reconciliation is also required.

What is a Family Law Property Settlement?

Separation can become more complicated when assets are involved, and you may be concerned about your financial future. A family law property settlement involves the legal division of assets, liabilities, and financial resources between a separated couple to legally finalise their financial affairs. The formalisation of a property settlement enables the parties to move on with their respective financial lives and may facilitate duty concessions when transferring certain assets like real estate.

It is important to understand the financial implications before finalising any property settlement. This includes the impact the settlement will have on the future financial needs of you and your children, and any taxation and duty liabilities that may be triggered by transferring or acquiring certain assets. In such cases, it may be wise to obtain additional advice from a financial professional.

Superannuation interests form part of a couples’ asset pool and may be divided as part of a settlement. The splitting of superannuation does not convert its value into cash as it is still governed by superannuation laws and will generally only be accessible at retirement age. This will also need to be factored into your settlement negotiations.

We have extensive experience across all financial family matters, from settlements of modest assets to those involving substantial assets and complex business and property interests. Whatever the sum involved, we guarantee the same level of dedicated commitment, service, and expertise to ensure you achieve a fair and reasonable settlement.

Financial Agreements

If you and your ex-partner have agreed on how your property should be divided, you may enter into a financial agreement (also known as a binding financial agreement).

To be legally enforceable, certain requirements and formalities must be met. The parties must each receive independent legal advice from a lawyer and sign an acknowledgement that they are aware of their rights and obligations under the agreement.

Generally, one party’s lawyer will prepare a draft agreement based on the negotiations, which is sent to the other party’s lawyer. Once any amendments are made and the agreement settled, they are signed with the appropriate acknowledgements by each party and their respective legal representatives.

Under the right circumstances and provided the formalities are complied with, financial agreements can be a less formal and cost-effective solution to dividing property.

Consent Orders

Consent Orders are a more formal approach to settling financial matters and may also include arrangements with respect to parenting. The court will need to approve the orders proposed and the application for consent orders must include full financial disclosure by both parties. The parties do not usually need to attend court, and the orders will be approved if, on the information provided, the court considers it is just and equitable to do so.

We can advise on the most suitable way to finalise your property affairs in your circumstances and prepare the necessary documents for you. We will attempt to make the process as simple and cost-effective as possible whilst ensuring your rights are protected and that you receive a fair and reasonable distribution.

Parenting Matters

A broken relationship can be even more complicated when children are involved.

Unless extenuating circumstances exist, parents must attempt to resolve their differences using dispute resolution processes rather than fighting in court. Every case is different, and a court will treat the best interests of the children as the paramount consideration if it is asked to determine parenting arrangements.

Unless a child is at risk, parental responsibility should be equally shared, and children should have the right to spend time on a regular basis with both parents.

In many cases parties will negotiate satisfactory arrangements in keeping with the children’s best interests without the need for court involvement. Agreements can be documented in parenting plans or formal parenting orders approved by the court. This will generally be less expensive and less emotionally trying than having contested court proceedings.

Parenting Plans

A parenting plan is an agreement made between parents regarding the ongoing and future arrangements for children and may be made before or after divorcing. Parenting plans are not legally enforceable however may be taken into account if one of the parties subsequently applies to the court for an order to vary the parenting plan.

Consent Orders – Parenting

Consent orders are legally binding agreements with respect to parenting arrangements and may also include terms regarding the division of property. Consent orders are made after agreement by the parties and, although they must be approved by the court, the parties will generally not need to attend court. The orders have the same force as if made by the court after a hearing.

Going to Court

If agreement cannot be reached regarding parenting issues we may need to apply to court for the appropriate orders.

In such cases there are many factors to consider in determining the future care and responsibility for the children. In addition to the principles already outlined, the court may consider the extent to which a parent has or has not fulfilled their responsibility towards a child or embraced the opportunity to do so. The impact that proceedings may have on a child is always considered and cooperation between the parents is fostered with as little formality during proceedings as possible.

Separated couples have many practical, financial and emotional issues to deal with. We focus on settling disputes in the most amicable, efficient and affordable way possible. We encourage our clients to explore all available options rather than having to go to court however will provide strong advocacy and representation on your behalf should court proceedings become necessary.

If you need any assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call 07 4992 3600 for expert legal advice.