Family Law

Whether your issues relate to marriage, a de facto relationship or to the interests of children or others in your family, we can provide expert advice and assistance in all areas of family law.  Our expertise is not just limited to divorce, parenting and property cases, we can also assist with domestic violence, child welfare, child support and paternity issues.

We help separating parents, former partners and grandparents and other family members with an interest in the welfare of children.  We also assist people who have never been in a continuing relationship to resolve child support and paternity disputes.


Relationship Planning

If you are entering into a marriage or de facto relationship we can assist with the drafting of a binding financial agreement either before or during your relationship. This agreement sets out how your property would be divided if you separate.  Such agreements must be signed by both parties and witnessed by an independent lawyer for each party.  

Separation

If you are considering separating from your partner, we can provide you with advice about your legal rights.  We can also assist with how best to plan your separation to minimise any conflict.  We also provide referrals to counsellors or mediators, when needed.

Divorce

In Australian family law a divorce, being the dissolution of your marriage, is a totally separate issue to issues concerning the division of property and arrangements for children. To be eligible to apply for a divorce you must be separated for 12 months.  We can assist with your divorce application and advise you of the legal time limits for seeking property settlement and spousal maintenance. 

Parenting arrangements

If you have children you will be concerned about the potential impacts on them of separation and divorce. We can provide information on how best to support your children at such a difficult time, based on the recent social science research.

We can help you work out parenting arrangements that will best suit your children and separated family. We can also assist grandparents who are experiencing difficulty in seeing their grandchildren.

At the moment there is no equal 50 time presumption in law in relation to parenting arrangements. The courts, however, take the view that generally children will benefit from a continuing relationship with both parents and that parents should share important decision-making (such as regarding schooling and health), unless there is very high conflict, violence or abuse.

In law, parenting arrangements can cover:

  • Living arrangements for children and how their time with each parent will be apportioned;
  • How parents will communicate with each other, particularly about matters such as education and health;
  • How future decisions will be made.

The type of parenting arrangement that may suit your children will depend on factors such as:

  • The ages and personalities of your children and their educational commitments and activities;
  • Whether you and your former partner can communicate well and cooperate together as parents;
  • How far away you live from each other;
  • The level of commitment that each of you have to making your parenting arrangements work.

Financial arrangements

If you have separated from a marriage or de facto relationship, it is important to sort out your financial arrangements, such as how property will be distributed and who will attend to mortgage and other payments. A number of factors guide the court when deciding on the division of property. It will look at the assets and liabilities of the parties and whether they have superannuation entitlements. It will consider the history of the relationship, what people had at the outset, how long they lived together and what contributions they made along the way. Both financial, non-financial and homemaker and parent contributions are all taken into account by the court.  Also important are whether either party received any gifts or inheritances during the relationship and what they did with these monies. The parties’ age, health, parenting responsibilities and their future capacity to earn income will also be relevant.

Spousal Maintenance

In some cases, after separation, one partner may not have the financial means to support him or herself.  An example may be where a person is caring for very young children and does not have the capacity to re-enter the workforce at that stage.  Or a person may suffer from a disability or illness that limits their ability to work. In such a case it may be appropriate to seek financial support in the form of spousal maintenance from the other party.  If such an application was successful it is often for a defined period of time, until the person is able to seek employment and support themselves. 

Family and Domestic Violence

If violence has been a factor in your relationship, we can provide you with advice and the appropriate support. We have experience in appearing in the Magistrates Court on applications for protection orders. We can also provide guidance in family court cases concerning violence. There is much help available for people who have experienced violence in their relationship, and we can also provide referrals to support groups and counselling.

Child Support and Paternity

In Australian law parents share financial responsibility for their children.  We can advise you about the best course of action to take to seek financial support for your children.  You may need the assistance of the Child Support Agency or help to negotiate an agreement.  We can also assist where there is a dispute about paternity of a child.  We can help you negotiate with the other party and make a court application, if required. 

Child Protection

In some families there are issues regarding the safety and wellbeing of children.  The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services may become involved and obtain court orders.  We have experience appearing in the Children’s Court in these types of matters and in negotiating with the Department to achieve suitable outcomes for our clients. 

Independent Children’s Lawyer

In some cases, particularly those involving high conflict or complex issues, the court will appoint a lawyer to represent the interests of a child, for example, where there is violence or abuse. The lawyer’s role is to present information relevant to the child’s best interests so that the court can make and an informed decision in relation to parenting orders.