Family Law

Our principal lawyer, Ian Bartels, has many years experience in family law. He brings a wealth of experience to the firm in all property disputes. Our firm has assisted clients to resolve their matrimonial matters be negotiation or mediation, and if necessary, guided them through the complex court process to achieve the best outcome.

 

It is always our aim to resolve your matter in the most efficient and cost effective way for you. While not always avoidable, resorting to court proceedings in family situations is, in our view, a last resort only because of the expense to both your bank account and your personal relationships. Unfortunately there are some cases where parties do need the help of a Judge to resolve matters on a final basis and we offer a cost-effective service if this is the case for you. By engaging your local law firm you can avoid those city-firm fees and overheads and still achieve a great result. Plus, with a small firm you get personal service and a dedicated solicitor working on your matter from start to finish.

 

It is our aim to help you negotiate your way through your family law matter with as much support and advice as your circumstances require. We will always be there for you and we will assist you in a professional manner and advocate for you to get the best outcome for you and your family.

 

 

 

In Australia almost 50,000 couples divorce each year, and nearly half of those couple have children under 18. The introduction of ‘no fault divorce’ in 1975 was a social revolution in Australia. There is no longer a need to prove to a court that one of the parties was the cause of the breakdown of the relationship. The breakdown of the marriage under the ‘no fault’ principle is evidenced by at least 12 months separation. We understand that some clients find the granting of their divorce liberating and a step towards getting on with their new life, others can struggle with the finalisation of the relationship and can find coming to terms with divorce challenging. We offer personalised service and we are sensitive to your situation, no matter what your feelings are to the process.

 

Applications for Divorce

 

Either party can apply to the Court for a divorce order, called a decree nisi, however in Australia nearly half of Applications for Divorce are made jointly. There are very limited circumstances in which a party can oppose an Application for Divorce and such grounds are generally procedural only. While applying for a divorce is not overly complicated, there are strict requirements to satisfy in order to have a decree nisi. To avoid any delay and added expense you can instruct us to make your Application on your behalf. We can act for either party, or both parties in the case of a joint Application.

 

 

 

Property

 

Fixed fee Family Law (Property) Solutions

 

Couples generally bring property into a marriage, acquire property during the course of the relationship and then acquire property after separation. The property the parties own at any stage of a relationship is called the ‘property pool’.

 

The entitlement to a share of the property pool at the end of the relationship is decided according to the factors set out in the Family Law Act 1975. These factors include what contributions each party made to the property before, during and after the relationship, the length of the relationship and the number and age of children, and the future needs of the individuals. We can assess your entitlement to the property pool according to the Family Law Act and help you to negotiate a settlement with the other party.

 

Financial Agreements

 

Sometimes parties are able to agree between themselves about how the property pool will be divided at any stage of the relationship. The Family Law Act provides for agreements to be made at the beginning, during or at the end of a relationship without the need for costly court proceedings.

 

The main benefit of a financial agreement is the low cost. Parties are able to come to their own arrangements about the division of the property pool and give this agreement certainty and legal force by entering into a financial agreement. These agreements are also usually much quicker than other property arrangements so parties are able to resolve their financial relationship on a final basis in a timely fashion.

 

There are some formalities required to make such agreements binding upon the parties and we provide a comprehensive service for drafting agreements at any stage of the relationship.

 

 

 

Independent legal advice on Financial Agreements

 

Both parties to a Financial Agreement made under the Family Law Act must receive independent legal advice. We will attend upon you to provide you with comprehensive advice on agreements drafted by other solicitors. Once we have provided that advice to you, we will sign the Certificate of Legal Advice and follow up with a letter to you explaining our advice for your records and future reference.

 

 

 

Consent Orders – Property

 

Not all matters are suitable for financial agreements. Sometimes a more formal process is appropriate.  Parties who agree how the property pool should be divided can make an application to court to have that agreement formalised. If the court considers the agreement to be fair according to the factors in the Family Law Act then approves the agreement and makes court orders in those terms. The advantage of Consent Orders is that these orders are enforceable and there are only very limited circumstances in which these orders can be changed. This gives the parties the highest degree of certainty and peace of mind.

 

Our fixed fee for Consent Orders includes preliminary negotiations, drafting, attendances with you and filing the Application and the filing fee.

 

 

 

Mediation

 

Mediation for family law matters is cost effective and in most cases successful process to help the parties come to an agreement. A mediator is a specialist lawyer who has extensive training and expertise to assist and guide the parties through the process and to come to an agreement that is acceptable to both parties and the court. Mediated agreements are usually formalised by Consent Orders.

 

It should be noted that some matters, for example where there is a history of domestic violence, might not be suitable for mediation. However, when parties decide, or are ordered by the court, to participate in mediation we prepare all of the documents and make the arrangements for you. We also attend the mediation and advise and advocate for you on the day.

 

Our fees for this will depend on the complexity of your matter, however we are happy to consider capping fees for clients so that you know the maximum costs before you proceed. These arrangements can be discussed with clients on a case-by-case basis. Please contact our office for further details.

 

Contested Proceedings for Property Orders

 

While the majority of family law property matters are resolved without having to resort to litigation, there are some circumstances where the parties need a judge to decide for them how the property pool will be divided. In this case one of the parties may make an Application to the court for property orders. This usually only happens where the property pool is large and complex, or where the parties have exhausted all other avenues to come to an agreement.

 

As with mediation, our fees for litigation will depend on the complexity of your matter, however we are happy to consider capping fees for clients so that you know the maximum costs before you proceed. These arrangements can be discussed with clients on a case-by-case basis. Please contact our office for further details.

 

Parenting

 

 

Fixed fee Family Law (Parenting) Solutions

 

The Family Law Act states that the paramount consideration in all parenting matters is the best interests of the child. Section 60CC of the Family Law Act sets out the factors used in determining the best interests of the child.

 

When relationships end it is important to set out the arrangements for the children so that there is certainty, routine and stability in their lives. We can help you achieve this by preparing a variety of agreements to suit your family’s circumstances. This will help you to remain child-focussed and ensure a smooth transition for everyone after a separation.

 

Parenting Plans

 

A parenting plan is a recorded agreement that is signed by both parties to set out how each parent will spend time with the children and other important matters such as schooling and holiday arrangements. Parenting Plans work well for parties with good communications and post-separation relationships and have the advantage of being flexible to suit your family’s needs. These types of agreements are not enforceable and you cannot complain to the court about breaches by the other party.

 

Consent Orders – Parenting

 

As with Consent Orders for property matters, not all parenting matters are suitable for informal agreements. Parties who agree about the parenting arrangements for children can make an application to court to have that agreement formalised by way of Consent Orders. If the court considers the agreement to be in the best interests of the child according to the factors in the Family Law Act then the court will make orders in those terms. As with Consent Orders for property matters, the advantage of Consent Orders for parenting mattes is that these orders are enforceable by a court.

 

Our fixed fee for Consent Orders for parenting includes preliminary negotiations, drafting, attendances with you and filing the Application and the filing fee.

 

 

 

Consent Orders for property and parenting matters

Our fixed fee for Consent Orders for both property and parenting includes preliminary negotiations, drafting, disclsoure, attendances with you and filing the Application and the filing fee.