Navigating the myriad of issues that arise from the breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship can be incredibly overwhelming. Understanding the path ahead, your rights and obligations, as well as how the law applies to your situation, can be a game-changer in reaching an agreement and sidestepping lengthy disputes. Often, consulting a family dispute resolution practitioner or mediator after initial legal advice can lead to swift resolutions. Litigation should be your last resort.
Remember, each case is unique and hinges on its own specifics. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for property outcomes or determining the best interests of children. Every family and its circumstances are distinct.
Here’s a handy checklist for common matters that arise after a relationship breakdown:
Addressing parenting arrangements for children is a top priority. Who will they live with? How will time with the other parent be divided? What about school, medical treatment and special occasions? Having a preliminary plan even before separation, can be invaluable. Seeking advice from a family lawyer and engaging in family dispute resolution with your ex-partner can yield positive results. In more complex situations, consulting a psychologist for a family report or child-inclusive family therapy is an option. Once an agreement is reached, consider the best way to document it, whether through a parenting plan or final orders from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
When family violence is a concern, seek advice on applying for a family violence intervention order. The definition of “family violence” is broad, so don’t hesitate to consult with a legal expert.
Settling financial issues, including property adjustment, child support, spousal maintenance and adult child maintenance (if applicable), may be necessary. The disclosure and valuation process will help your lawyer assess potential outcomes and entitlements. Consider obtaining accounting and taxation advice for structuring settlements and documenting resolutions through consent orders or a financial agreement.
Early advice is crucial for navigating child support discussions and considering the options of a binding or limited child support agreement and applying for a child support assessment.
Discuss the legal requirements and timing of divorce with your lawyer. Decide whether it is best to pursue it early or after resolving other marriage-related issues.
De facto relationships
Find out from your family lawyer whether your relationship qualifies as a de facto relationship under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and if the “gateway” requirements for a property claim are met.
As mentioned earlier, participating in family dispute resolution is strongly recommended. It can greatly aid in reaching agreements and avoiding prolonged and costly disputes and litigation.
For more information on family law matters, call 03 8600 8888 or visit kcllaw.com.au/practice-areas/family-law