Family & Divorce
VoxLaw will assist you with quality, professional and compassionate family law advice. We can advise you in relation to;
Property and financial settlement
Children’s issues, parenting orders and parenting plans
Domestic violence, and what can be done to make you safe
Settlement through mediation or other alternative dispute methods
Some commonly asked Property questions;
Do I have to be divorced to split the property?
As soon as you have separated you can make arrangements to split your property and debts between you and your ex-partner, you do not have to wait until you are divorced.
Do we have to go to Court?
No, not at all. If you have already agreed on how things should be divided between you, we can draw up the document which will finalise the arrangements, and then get underway the legal processes which will split the assets.
What if we can’t agree?
There is an established process in cases where there is disagreement over how property should be split. Firstly, the court needs to be satisfied that you have attempted to reach agreement, and to this end you will be ordered to participate in dispute resolution.
If this doesn’t resolve the matter then an application for property orders must be filed with the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court of Australia. This application must be made within 12 months of your divorce becoming final.
The matter will be set down for hearing and a legally binding decision will be made by the court.
How does the court decide?
Firstly, the court will calculate the total assets owned by both parties, including property, shares, cars, jewellery, savings, superannuation, furniture etc. This includes things you brought into the relationship, those acquired during the relationship and those purchased after separation.
Next the court will weigh up the contributions from both parties, including financial, non-financial, inheritances and assets brought into the relationship.
Then the court will look at the future needs of both parties, including factors such as your capacity to earn money and your parental responsibilities.
Lastly the court will decide the distribution of assets based on what is just and equitable to both parties.
We can help
Dealing with the complexities of property settlement is stressful but the consequences of not doing it properly can impact on the rest of your life. We are experienced negotiators, and will make sure that you get the best possible outcome.
Parenting and Children’s disputes
Australian law focuses on the rights of children to have an ongoing relationship with both parents so that separating from your partner or spouse doesn’t mean that you are separating from your child or children.
Although the terms ‘custody’, ‘residence’, ‘contact’ and ‘access’ are no longer used much by lawyers today, the issues behind the jargon are still on the top of the list of concerns for separating couples, namely:
Who will the child or children live with?
How will they spend time with the other parent?
How will both parents be kept in the loop regarding important decisions such as education and health?
Joint Custody and Shared Responsibility
Joint custody or shared responsibility means that both parents have legal rights and responsibilities towards the child. It doesn’t mean that the child will spend half of their time with one parent and half with the other, but that each parent has an equal say in decisions relating to the child in areas such as health and education. Even if the child lives with the other parent you may still have joint custody.
But doesn’t the law now say that children must spend equal time with each parent?
No, it doesn’t. The law ensures that the best interests of the children are served first. When considering what is in the children’s best interests, the court must consider facilitating a meaningful relationship between the children and both of their parents and also to protect the child from harm.
If the court is to provide equal shared responsibility then it will also consider whether equal time is in the best interests of the children and whether it’s practical. Rather than equal time, for example, the court may order substantial and significant time be spent with the other parent, which might translate to be 4 nights per fortnight rather than 7.
Where do I start?
Firstly, get legal advice. Your lawyer will take you through all the areas which need to be considered and document what you think is a fair approach to arrangements for your children. If your partner is agreeable, your lawyer can help you formalise the document without proceeding to costly court action.
If your differences are unable to be settled, then you will need to commence on the path to having parenting orders issued by the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court.
Recent changes to the Family Law Act 1975 mean that you will need to attend family dispute resolution before applying for parenting orders. If you and the other parent are unable to reach an agreement on the parenting issues, the accredited family dispute resolution practitioner will issue a certificate which must be filed with the court application and simply states that your differences were unable to be resolved.
If your case does end up in court, a legally binding decision will be made through a hearing where the judge will decide what is in the child’s best interests.
Why use a lawyer?
As lawyers experienced in this process we can advise you regarding the complexities of your specific situation as well as guide you through what can be a stressful and confusing process. We can help take the heat out of a difficult emotional situation and negotiate on your behalf to obtain the best possible result for your children. And if it comes to court, we are deeply familiar with the court system and can use our experience to your advantage.