Considering Divorce? Here’s What You Need to Know About Australian Family Law

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Common Divorce And Family Law Matters

Family and divorce lawyers help resolve a variety of questions and disputes related to ending a marriage or domestic relationship. Family lawyers can also advise you on related matters like prenuptial agreements, paternity and domestic violence in the context of a family law or divorce situation.

Generally, parties must be separated for twelve months before filing for a no-fault divorce. Time spent living in the same household may count toward the twelve-month separation time.

Every Family Law Case Is Unique

Keep in mind that every family is different. What may work for one family, will not work for another.

Despite statutory child and spousal support “formulas,” judges will consider if the results are just and equitable to both parties. Additionally, judges will consider if the best interests of any children involved are met, despite any agreement you may have already made with your spouse.

A family lawyer can help you finalise your agreement with these principles in mind before you present it to a judge for approval.

Child Support And Visitation

The child support legal guidelines can help parents reach their own child support agreements that meet or exceed the statutory requirements. The Australian Department of Human Services uses an eight-point system to help you estimate monthly child support.

A judge will also take into account income, time spent with each parent and needs of the child in the future. This includes any disability, educational needs or other special considerations. The judge must ensure that any agreement or order be in the “best interest” of the children.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance is awarded by a judge after a two-step process. The judge considers several factors when approving an amount agreed to by the parties, or when setting the amount after a hearing, including:

  • The current incomes of the parties
  • Whether either party is able to support him or herself
  • If not, was either spouse out of the workforce caring for children
  • Why is the spouse unable to do anything to meet the gap between reasonable living expenses and ability to earn an income at this time
  • Does the other party earn enough to help cover the income gap
  • The court can also consider age, income and the state of either spouse’s health.

Dividing Up Property

The judge will consider what is “just and equitable” to both parties. It is not necessarily a dollar-for-dollar division. Rather, the judge tries to ensure that the overall scheme is fair.

For example, the judge considers such things as the future potential of a business property. In some situations, it might be foolish for the judge to order that a successful business be liquidated. It might be a better strategy to keep a profitable company and calculate spousal maintenance payments based upon future, anticipated profits.

De Facto Relationships

People in de facto relationships run into many of the same issues as married couples. Money, property and children all become an issue when the relationship ends. Legally, de facto relationships are defined as two people of same or opposite sex living together in a “genuine domestic relationship.”

The law evaluates many factors to determine whether the relationship is a de facto relationship, including whether the couple:

  • Is registered in one of the states or territories
  • Has been in the relationship at least two years.

Judges look at many of the same factors used in divorce cases to determine how to divide up property, and award custody for the support of any minor children. Courts may also consider awarding maintenance and an interest in the other spouse’s superannuation accounts, especially if the relationship is long term.

In other situations, one parent may prefer to keep the family home so that the children can finish school. Maintaining stability in the children’s lives may be more important than getting the cash out of the house at the time of the divorce.

Consent Orders

Consent orders are used by couples who already agree on how to divide up their property, monthly maintenance and child support payment amounts and child custody issues after the twelve-month separation period. Consent orders can be drafted without using a lawyer, however, the judge may not agree with your arrangement.

Even if you draft your own agreement, it must meet the “just and equitable” standard and be in the best interests of the children involved. A divorce lawyer can help you protect yourself when negotiating the terms of your divorce with your spouse and help ensure that the court will approve your agreement when you present it.

What To Do If You Can’t Agree

There are many ways to resolve the conflicts that naturally come up in most divorce cases. We encourage alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services before choosing to litigate your case in court.

ADR services help to quickly resolve disputes and are a less expensive ways of resolving maintenance and property disputes or drafting visitation schedules.

Yet, should you need to resolve your divorce in court, then you need to find a competent divorce lawyer to handle your case.

Taylor & Scott family lawyers are among Sydney’s most respected and established family law and divorce lawyers. Since 1905 we have been helping couples and families  move forward with their lives after a divorce.

We will earnestly represent your interests to help you obtain a fair property settlement, proper maintenance and appropriate child support and visitation schedules.

We are experts at locating and determining how to divide and value marital property such as:

  • Superannuation accounts
  • Real estate and bank accounts
  • Family businesses or executive compensation packages
  • Contributions each party made to the acquisition, development and maintenance of these assets such as financial, parenting and homemaking time.

Please contact us for a consultation about your family law matter.

At Taylor & Scott “ We Care For You.”

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