Family Law

Family law is a term used to describe issues surrounding disputes related to the breakdown of a relationship. This may include disputes focussing on parenting and the future access to children, or property settlement processes.

 

Where you believe that you need help to negotiate a pathway forward then call us.

 

To help you in this trying time it is important to understand that the family law system demands that parties make a genuine attempt to resolve their disputes without the involvement of a court.

 

There are many strategies available for separating couples seeking a resolution of property and/or parenting matters.

 

Approaches may involve private attempts at dispute resolution including mediation.

 

There are advantages to an early and private settlement including cost savings;  benefits to the children; certainty; speed of the process and a less emotional toll.

 

Leaving a relationship can be a challenging process. It can be emotionally draining for all parties. The most important things to do is to understand the landscape to help maintain your sanity. The landscape will differ from relationship to relationship however some common threads exist.

Practical Arrangements

Some say that these are the hardest to work out because it is the first encountered. Aspects such as finances may play on your mind. This may include how to address a loss of joint income; relocation aspects such as where to go; the requirement to meet leasing demands by landlords; when to move;  removal timeframes; what people might think of the breakup as well as other social aspects such as the friend’s wedding coming up.

Parenting Arrangements

Where couples have kids, the principle concern of the court is the welfare of any children from a relationship. It is important to realise that children cannot be used by either party as a pawn in a greater strategy. The courts look very dimly at parties who believe that they should have greater access than the other, except where certain circumstances exist such as risk of harm. Other thoughts may include how the landscape will look at Christmas time or on special occasions. There are numerous issues that pop up in this area of the law and it depends on those circumstances in order to determine whether it is appropriate to draft and abide by a parenting plan (which is un-enforceable by the courts) or parenting orders (which are enforceable).

Property Arrangements

The court looks at what a fair and reasonable (just and equitable) distribution of assets may be. This is one of the trickiest areas of the family law because every circumstance is different. The court uses a four-step process to help to determine what may be a just and equitable settlement.

  • Identify all assets and liabilities and determine the value of these;
  • Assess each parties contributions (finance, non-finance, negative);
  • Consider future needs;
  • Determine the fairest pathway to adopt after completing (1) to (3) above.

 

The most important thing to understand is that if you separate, you do not have to involve the courts. If you believe that you can move on with your life without conflict and maintain an amicable relationship then there are strategies. These could be a parenting plan to address the parenting arrangements as well as a binding financial agreement (BFA) to deal with the division of property.

Binding Financial Agreements (BFA’s)

It is important to note that a binding financial agreement (BFA) is the only option for a couple that has not separated. A BFA provides certainty for parties wanting to finalise issues surrounding spousal maintenance. A BFA removes the jurisdiction of the courts to make orders regarding property, maintenance or both.

This area of the law forms an important part of your asset protection portfolio. As stated, the family law in general can be challenging and the area of financial agreements is now very complex.

 

If you are seeking to protect your assets and both you and your partner agree with the approach, the preparation of a BFA has many advantages including the saving of cost and time. These agreements are usually made between partners who are intending to marry; live in a de facto relationship; are married and not separated; are living in a de facto relationship and not separated; are married and separated but not divorced; were living in a de facto relationship and have separated; and are divorced.

 

A BFA can be made quickly where both parties are able to provide the required material to the drafting legal practitioner.

Confidential Consultions

As every partnership is different, we are able to tailor the needs to suit your desires.

 

Another pathway may involve the completion of Consent Orders in instances where an amicable arrangement has been reached. These limit the involvement of the courts and provide protection for parties where either believe that a breach of the conditions may occur.

 

We certainly understand that other circumstances may prevail that lead to there being no other alternative to court. In those instances, we are more than capable of assisting you to move forward with your life.

 

Call us for a confidential consultation to find out how we can further help you.

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