The Answers to Your Top 7 Family Law Questions

divorce faqsThe only time many Australians need to engage a lawyer is when they have questions about separation or divorce. A little information at the outset can make this interaction with a lawyer less painful and confusing. We’ve compiled some quick answers to the questions that we hear most often:

How much will it cost?
You should never hesitate to ask your Lawyer how much your matter will cost at your first meeting.

Most lawyers, including Perdriau Family Lawyers, charge at an hourly rate, with a fixed rate for our initial consultation. Using this fee structure ensures that you only pay for the service you require, no more and no less. This means, for example, a quick negotiation is likely to be cheaper than a prolonged dispute that goes to court.

Fixed pricing only works well in matters where there is known outcome. Matters such as, conveyancing or wills, are relatively straightforward and there is a procedure to follow. Apart from a simple divorce application, there can be many uncertainties or unknowns in Family Law, therefore, Family Law services are not offered at fixed rates.

What happens after the initial consultation?
What happens after your initial consultation is entirely dependent on the nature of your matter. During your initial consultation, your lawyer will provide feedback and information about your case, including what process options we think you should consider. They will work with you to determine the strategy and course of action best suited to your situation. This may include anything from mediation, parenting coordination, property settlement or dispute resolution; or a combination of several strategies.

Does my partner automatically get half of all of the assets after separation?
Assets are not automatically divided 50/50 after a separation, there is a well-established four-step process for dividing assets and property.

  1. The first step is to establish the marital pool of assets that will include everything from property to your superannuation. Debts are then subtracted from this total.
  2. Next, each party’s contributions to the marriage will be assessed, including non-financial contributions such as childcare and homemaking.
  3. The third step then looks at the future needs of each party. For example, one person might be expected to have greater childcare commitments, therefore a greater share of the assets.
  4. Finally, the assets will be viewed as a whole to ensure the scheme of property division appears to be fair and equitable to each party.

If I leave the family home, do I lose my entitlements?
Legally speaking, if you leave the family or marital home, you do not lose your rights to a share of the home. However, if possible, you should seek legal advice before you leave as this may give the spouse who is still in the house a strategic advantage to use against the other party.

Do I need Parenting Orders now that I have separated?
Whilst you don’t need to have parenting orders, your lawyer will strongly recommend that you have them.

Parenting orders are legally enforceable court orders. Each person has a legal obligation to follow a court order and there are serious consequences if you do not follow an order. Having parenting orders may sometimes be less expensive than using a parenting plan in the long-term because if one parent doesn’t comply with the orders, the other parent can make an application to the Family Court to enforce the orders. Parenting plans (a written agreement between the two parents) on the other hand are not legally enforceable if one parent decides not to comply with the agreement.

Can I stop my ex-partner from seeing my kids?
No, you cannot stop your ex from seeing your children unless you can show the court that the children are being placed in danger and that it is in the best interests of the children not to see the other parent. Before stopping your children from seeing their other parent, you should obtain legal advice: if your actions are not considered to be justified, this could have serious consequences.

Will my children need to go to court?
No, your children will not be required to attend court to express their views about who they wish to live with, how much time they wish to spend with each parent or other parenting matters that are being decided by the court. However, the court must listen to the children’s views if they do choose to express them. If the child does wish to express their views in court, they will not influence the outcome of the matter, the court looks at what is in the best interests of each individual child.

The team of experts at Perdriau Family Law can answer all of your questions about separation and divorce. Call us on 02 4343 1773 or click here to schedule an appointment.

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