The Advocate - Hepburn

Life, love, & litigation: The ins & outs of family law

Life, love, & litigation: The ins & outs of family law

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In Australia, an experienced family lawyer will be able to help clients navigate divorces, property settlement, parenting arrangements, financial agreements, child support disputes and many other matters that pertain to separation and divorce.

Divorce and separation are a stressful time for all involved, and a good family lawyer can ease some of that stress. If you are someone who is going through a relationship breakdown and are wondering if enlisting the help of a family lawyer would be beneficial, you have come to the right place.

Today, we look at the top 10 questions that we get asked on a daily basis, in a bid to help you further understand what a family lawyer can do for you and some of the benefits you stand to gain from expert legal assistance.

1. What is family law?

Before we can get into the benefits that family law can offer you, it is important that we thoroughly understand exactly what the term pertains to. Australia's family law system helps people resolve the legal aspects of family relationship issues, including family relationship breakdown.

Lawyers practising family law represent clients in family court proceedings and/or in related negotiations. A reliable family lawyer can also assist you in drafting important legal documents such as court petitions, parenting agreements or property agreements.

2. What makes a good family lawyer?

Choosing a family lawyer that you feel comfortable with and can trust is absolutely imperative to the outcome of your case. A good family lawyer has a perfect understanding of the emotional and mental state of a client and will strive to do their best to fight for families and not for individuals.

When seeking out a family law firm in Melbourne, it is important to choose a lawyer who is able to take a big picture approach and who has the empathy to understand that family law proceedings have the power to impact young lives immensely.

3. Do I need a family lawyer?

Early advice from an experienced family lawyer is always advisable and will likely save you an enormous amount of money and time in the long run.

With the help of a family lawyer, you will be able to better understand the process of separation, divorce, property settlement and child arrangements. Your lawyer will also be able to assist you with negotiations, mediation and alternative dispute resolution which is a vital component of family law.

4. What do family lawyers do?

Family lawyers are qualified and ready to help with a long list of family law matters. These are not limited to, but include:

  • Separation
  • Divorce
  • Prenuptial Agreements
  • Annulment
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Child support
  • Parenting Plans
  • Property settlements
  • Domestic and family violence and family violence intervention order (FVIOs)
  • Guardianship of children
  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Binding Financial Agreements
  • Legal representation in the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court

5. What are the most popular services offered by family lawyers in Australia?

Some of the most popular services offered by family lawyers in Australia include expert legal counsel on separation, divorce, spousal maintenance, property division, asset protection, parenting arrangements and child support.

6. Do all family law matters go to court?

In most cases, family disputes can be resolved without the need to proceed to the Family Court and with the help of mediation. In certain cases where parties are unable to reach an agreement regarding issues such as property or children matters, it may be necessary to proceed through the Court process.

7. Are there benefits to choosing a boutique/dedicated family law firm?

Boutique/dedicated law firms specialise and offer expertise in particular areas of the law. A dedicated family law firm will be able to offer clients a full-service approach that helps them deal with the various legal issues pertaining to divorce. As such, choosing a dedicated firm is a wise choice and can greatly increase your chances of a favourable outcome.

8. Can an Australian family lawyer help me if I was married overseas?

Most certainly. Couples can apply for a divorce in Australia if married overseas as long as you can satisfy the court that you live permanently in Australia and that you have lived separately and apart from your spouse for at least 12 months. You are also required to provide the Court with a copy of your marriage certificate.

9. How much does a family lawyer cost?

Most family lawyers generally charge an hourly rate and some are more expensive than others. Rates will also differ according to the level of experience your lawyer has and the circumstances of your case. Some families settle matters out of court for as little as a few thousand dollars, while others can spend over $100,000 fighting their matter in court.

10. How can I find a family lawyer?

One of the best ways to find an experienced and trusted family lawyer is via referral from other family members, friends, colleagues or professionals (i.e., accountant, therapist, clergy). The Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia also provides an extensive list of State and Territory law societies and bar associations, which can be searched to find a specialist family lawyer in your area.

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Family law is a complex matter, especially if a divorce is complicated, contested or involves children. Furthermore, the breakdown of a relationship can take a serious emotional and mental toll on everyone involved. As such, enlisting the help of an experienced and trustworthy family lawyer can help to resolve issues as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Note: This is general information advice only and does not constitute specific legal advice.