Family Law

Separation, divorce, family disputes and parenting matters can be extremely stressful.  Without good legal counsel, it is difficult to navigate through personal issues and a complex legal process at times like that.

At SS Lawyers, we listen to our clients, care about their problems and act in their best interest to attempt to resolve your family dispute outside of court.  Advice and representation by an experienced family lawyer can make a world of difference.

We offer you a free first consultation.  Please contact us to make an appointment.

SS Lawyers will be able to advise you on:

  • Divorce and decree nisi
  • Parenting and child support
  • Property division and financial settlements
  • Binding financial agreement or the so-called pre-nuptial or separation agreement, including amendments and enforceability
  • Family Court and Federal Circuit Court consent orders
  • Change of circumstances
  • Application – Contravention when existing Court orders are not complied with
  • Effect of family violence or domestic violence on the family law settlement
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO/ADVO) in the context of family disputes
  • Family mediation and conciliation conferences

Divorce

You can apply for a divorce in Australia if either you or your spouse:

  • regard Australia as your home and intend to live in Australia indefinitely, or
  • are an Australian citizen by birth, descent or by grant of Australian citizenship, or
  • ordinarily live in Australia and have done so for 12 months immediately before filing for divorce.

You need to satisfy the Court that you and your spouse have lived separately and apart for at least 12 months and one day, and there is no reasonable likelihood of resuming married life.  It is possible to live together in the same home and still be separated.

In Australia, the court does not consider why the marriage ended, that is a so-called no-fault divorce principle.  The only grounds for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.  That is, that there is no reasonable likelihood that you will get back together.

If there are children aged under 18, a court can only grant a divorce if it is satisfied that proper arrangements have been made for them.

You can only oppose the divorce where:

  • there has not been 12 months separation as alleged in the application, or
  • the Court does not have jurisdiction.

If there is no child of the marriage aged under 18 years, you are not required to attend the court hearing. This applies for both sole and joint applications.  If you have made a joint application, you and your spouse are not required to attend the court hearing, even if there is a child of the marriage aged under 18.

If you have made a sole application and there is a child of the marriage aged under 18 years, you are required to attend the court hearing unless circumstances prevent you from attending.

Whatever your circumstances, you can seek representation and expert guidance from SS Lawyers in respect of the requirements related to divorce.

Parenting Matters

We specialise on advising on all legal aspects of family breakdown and property division involving unresolved parenting matters.

The law does not tell parents how to care for their children. Instead, it says that each parent has parental responsibility to care for their children and make decisions about them. Neither parent is more important in law than the other.  The guiding principle in any parenting arrangement is the best interests of the child.

SS Lawyers can advise on sorting things out by way of an informal agreement, or making what is called a ‘parenting plan’, or applying to a court for an enforceable arrangement.

Parenting orders generally address specific behaviours – e.g. the times when a parent will pick up a child from school, or whether a parent may take a child overseas for a holiday. A parenting order could also prohibit a parent from a specific behaviour, such as denigrating or criticising the other parent when talking to the child, or, in situations where there is a history of violence, from going to the other parent’s home without an invitation.

To avoid delays or failure to obtain child passports, parenting orders could deal specifically with passport arrangements. The parenting orders could deal with who needs to consent to a child’s passport, or who should hold the child’s passport. They can also provide that a parent must give the other parent a period of notice before taking the child overseas or interstate. Alternatively, the orders could provide that neither parent will take the child overseas without the consent of the other parent.

It is important to note that even if there is no specific parenting order dealing with international travel, when parenting orders are in place or parenting proceedings are pending it is an offence for a parent to take the child out of Australia without the other parent’s consent or the court’s permission.

In cases where one parent fears that a child will be taken out of the country, Urgent Legal Action needs to be taken and SS Lawyers can get appropriate orders and measures taken to ensure there is no foul play.  If your child is at risk of being taken overseas, don’t delay as its extremely difficult to pursue people overseas, act now and contact us immediately.

Property Division

The Family Law Act 1975 sets out the general principles the court considers when deciding financial disputes after the breakdown of a marriage or a de facto relationship. The general principles are the same, regardless of whether the parties were in a marriage or a de facto relationship, and are based on:

  • working out what you’ve got and what you owe, that is your assets and debts and what they are worth
  • looking at the direct financial contributions by each party to the marriage or de facto relationship such as wage and salary earnings
  • looking at indirect financial contributions by each party such as gifts and inheritances from families
  • looking at the non-financial contributions to the marriage or de facto relationship such as caring for children and homemaking, and
  • future requirements – a court will take into account things like age, health, financial resources, care of children and ability to earn.

The way your assets and debts will be shared between you will depend on the individual circumstances of your family. Your settlement will probably be different from others you may have heard about.

If you were married, applications for property adjustment must be made within 12 months of your divorce becoming final.  If you were in a de facto relationship, your applications for property adjustment must be made within 2 years of the breakdown of your de facto relationship.  If you do not apply within these time limits, you will need special permission of a court. This is not always granted. However there are many exceptions to the rule, please contact our office as we may be in a position to apply for leave from court subject to extenuating circumstances.

SS Lawyers can assist in facilitating property division and settlement by use of the court system or otherwise, including by way of preparing a binding financial agreement.  We strive for simplicity and transparency in our approach to all family law matters, especially complex ones.

Please feel free to contact SS Lawyers to make an appointment for your free initial consultation.

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