The breakdown of a relationship is a very distressing time, but it is important to seek legal advice promptly. Many of our clients are often surprised to hear of their rights upon an initial consultation. For example, people that were financially reliant on their partner may be able to receive support payments following a break up.
Our solicitors deal regularly in family law matters and are experienced negotiators. In the forefront of their mind is pursuing a settlement you are happy with in a way that will minimize costs and stress as far as is possible. Where this simply is not possible, we can strongly defend your interests in court.
A property settlement is the process following separation whereby the assets of the relationship are distributed to each party according to law. This occurs when either a married couple or people in a de facto relationship break up. A de facto relationship can arise in a number of circumstances, even if one party is already married. Each party to a property settlement has certain rights and obligations according to law.
The property which is included in a property settlement, and the way in which it is divided, can be affected by a large number of factors, including:
The length of the relationship;
The time frame of the relationship;
The nature of the relationship;
When and how the assets of the relationship were acquired;
The contributions of the parties during the relationship;
The earning power of each party following the relationship;
Contributions include earnings and assets, but also things such as caring for children.
In a property settlement, we gather information on any property, assets and liabilities, assess overall value, and determine what a fair settlement would be for you according to law. If the assets are complex, we can seek advice from accountants and valuers. On your instructions, we then negotiate with your former partner in an attempt to come to an agreement you are happy with and according to your entitlement. If this cannot be achieved, we advise you of your options and can protect your interests in court if necessary.
Following separation, who cares for minor children and how much time is spent with each parent can be difficult to agree upon. If this cannot be negotiated amicably with your former partner, we can seek parenting orders in court which set out how much time the children spend with each parent. We recommend making children’s orders by consent even if you and your former partner are in agreement so that you can rely on them if circumstances change. Orders of this kind may prevent your former partner from relocating the children without your consent, as a breach of such orders are semi-criminal in nature.
We can also help you put your children’s interests first. This may involve an application to the court to appoint an Independent Children’s Lawyer who conveys their wishes and protects their interests in court. It may also involve a Child Inclusive Conference where your children have the chance to make their wishes known. If there is a risk of domestic violence to your children we can file a Notice of Risk with the court so the appropriate steps can be taken to keep them safe. If your children were relocated by your former partner without your knowledge and/or consent, we can make an expedited application to have them returned.
Contrary to popular understanding, divorce is a separate process from a property settlement, and each can be completed independently. However, how and when you apply for a divorce can affect not only any property settlement, but also fees and costs. A divorce is not automatic. That is, you are considered still married until an application for divorce is made and a decree given, even if the relationship has ended years earlier. A divorce is also necessary before you can remarry.
If your questions still have not been answered, just fill out the form below and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Alternatively, make an appointment and we will be happy to discuss with you your issues.