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Separation Advice

The pending or actual breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship is a challenging time, especially when children are involved. If you are thinking about separating from your spouse or partner, it can be beneficial to get legal advice before you do if possible. An experienced family lawyer can guide you in the process, explain your legal position, and help you make interim parenting and property arrangements. We can help whether you are contemplating a break-up or have recently separated. Our family law services include:

  • Divorce and nullity proceedings
  • Pre-nuptial and separation agreements
  • De facto and same-sex relationships
  • Property and financial settlements
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Parenting plans and parenting orders
  • Child support and enforcement of payments
  • Adoption/paternity/parentage issues
  • Domestic and family violence and Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs)
  • Family mediation

Family Law in Australia

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) is the primary legislation in Australia governing marriage, divorce, separation, and children’s matters. Amongst other things, the Act sets out processes to resolve conflicts about property and parenting.

Fortunately, many family law matters in Australia are resolved through negotiation and mediation, usually with the assistance of the parties’ respective lawyers. If, however, a dispute cannot be resolved, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia will hear from both parties, determine the matter, and make legally binding orders based on the law.

The family law system is designed to be fair and equitable. Parenting laws focus on the best interests of the children, and property laws aim to help separated couples reach a fair division of property. Separated couples are encouraged to reach an agreement without resorting to litigation and parents should cooperate and make decisions that are in the best interests of their children.

Practical considerations after separation

Working through the practical steps to take after a relationship breaks down can be difficult. Following are some of the things you may need to consider.

  • Put your differences aside so that parenting arrangements are made in the best interests of your children and, wherever possible, foster a meaningful relationship with both parents.
  • Prepare a list of assets and liabilities – property, shares, investments, bank accounts, superannuation, mortgages, and personal loans.
  • Obtain originals or copies of important documents like passports, marriage certificates, birth certificates and insurance policies.
  • Keep a chronology of key dates, times, and events, for example, the date that you separated, or you or your ex-partner moved out of the family home.
  • Keep assets insured – your home, investment property, motor vehicles, boats, etc.
  • Update passwords and login details for online banking accounts, email, social media platforms, etc.
  • Contact your bank to discuss joint loan and savings accounts, credit cards, or any other aspect of your everyday banking.
  • Contact Centrelink – Services Australia to find out whether you are entitled to government or other assistance.
  • Get legal advice to protect your interests and review or make a new Will.

Getting legal help when you separate

When a relationship ends, many couples are hopeful of settling their affairs informally and privately. After all, who needs strangers involved in their business? Even with the best intentions, however, negotiations can spiral downhill when dynamics change, or the reality of separation sets in.

Even couples who separate on good terms should get independent legal advice to ensure their rights are protected and a reasonable outcome can be obtained.

Informal agreements are generally not binding and cannot be enforced. A family lawyer will ensure that your negotiations are documented in a legally enforceable agreement that facilitates any relevant transfer duty concessions, protects the parties from future claims, and enables them to move on with their respective financial lives.

Our experienced family lawyers are skilled negotiators and will endeavour to settle your family law matter outside of court, saving you as much time, money, and stress as possible.

If you need help, contact [email protected] or call 03 8672 7510 for a confidential discussion with one of our friendly and experienced family lawyers.