Family law is quite complex.  This law division includes a huge list of categories such as separation and divorce, child support and maintenance, children’s matters, family violence, parenting disputes, property settlement, binding financial agreements and more.  However, when separation does occur, what happens to the family pets?

Household Pets are Deemed as Property

The Family Law Act defines animals as property.  This means that in most cases, animals will be treated in the same way as household items and various family pets can be distributed between the parties via either Court Order or by agreement.

Who Gets (the ownership of the Family) Pets After Divorce?

Unfortunately, once a decision has been made regarding who keeps the pets, the pet become the sole property of that one individual. There is no such thing as visitation rights or time-spent arrangements with pets.  These arrangements can be quite difficult to accept if you are very attached to your pet, and the other party gets to keep it.

When determining who will keep the pet, some important considerations include:

  • proof of ownership/registration;

  • which party is mostly responsible for the pet’s care;

  • which party has custody of the children;

  • which party is the primary carer for the children; and

  • which party has appropriate living arrangements for keeping the pet.

Pet-Nups Can Solve These Problems Easier

Pet-Nup are a system that is similar to a prenuptial agreement – but for pets.  This system is accepted in Victorian courts because it acts as concrete proof of pet ownership or rather a contractual agreement with regards to responsibilities of the pet. Pet-Nup documents have been created in partnership with family law experts.

This is basically an agreement between couples about the fate of pet care upon separation.  In Pet-nup documents, both parties agree on an owner for the pet.  The agreement also include a list of basic requirements, such as suitable environments, diet, affections and anything else that the parties reasonably wish to include.

Specific agreement terms on the pets can be arranged.  Terms can include all of the following and more;

  • Financial assistance or shared financial responsibility that both partners agree

  • Expenses associated with pet care

  • Expenses surrounding vet bills

  • Visitation rights

  • Fines for law breaches

  • Microchipping

  • Holidays

Although the Family Law Act does not include any specific clauses or ruling in respect of pets, a pet-nup agreement is drafted in a similar manner to that of a property agreement.

Pet-Nups are a terrific way to ensure that pets are taken care off after separation and to ensure that both partners get the best protection.

If you’re looking for divorce law specialists, then speak to our experienced staff today.

Family Law orders are judgements made by judicial officers of the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The rationale underpinning Family Law is to assist family members in the breakdown of their de facto relationship or marriage, end the financial relationship, establish a clear parenting regime post separation and protect the child’s best interests. Judicial officers therefore tailor orders to suit the specific circumstances of each matter.

Family Law orders

Examples of Family Law orders include a Divorce Order, Property Order, Parenting Order, or  Recovery Order that an individual return the child to the primary carer. Within Parenting Orders, the judicial officer can make a wide variety of orders. Namely:

– A parent is restrained from allowing the child to come into contact with a specified individual;
– A parent must undertake random supervised drug screens; and
– A parent must not commit family violence.

Family Law orders may not be ruled in your favour and it may be difficult to adhere to the Orders when you feel that you have been disadvantaged.

But what happens when you contravene a Family Law order?

What are the legal penalties for breaching a Family Law order?

Judgements in Family Law matters are binding court orders no different to other areas of law. You therefore should not ignore or disobey any Family Law order even if may seem cumbersome.

You are likely to receive a penalty if the Court finds that you do not have a reasonable excuse for breaching the Family Law order. The penalty will depend upon the severity of the breach and surrounding circumstances:

Minor or major breach – Minor breaches are typically not penalised quite as harshly as a major breach.  A minor breach can may include  failing to allow the other parent the right to see a child on an agreed weekend whereas a major breach is refusing to let the other parent see the child at all.

The number of breaches – The number of times you have breached the Family Law order is a factor taken into account by the judicial officer.  Multiple breaches often result in a severe penalty.

The reason for your breach – If you have a reasonable excuse for failing to obey the Family Law order then you may receive a lower penalty. However, without a reasonable excuse is likely to result in a higher penalty.

Personal circumstances – Personal circumstances such as work obligations, financial problems, and accidents can also affect the penalty.

Type of Penalties

The type of penalty varies depending on the nature of the breach, if there is reasonable excuse, your personal financial and other circumstances.

Common penalties include:

  • A mere warning: If you have a reasonable excuse or it was a minor breach.

  • Specialist program: You could be ordered to attend a specialist program such as domestic violence treatment program, anger management or a post-separation parenting program.

  • Fine: You might receive a financial penalty for the breach.

  • Legal costs: You might be ordered to pay all of the legal costs of the other party

  • Compensate lost expenses: You might have to compensate lost expenses that result from your breach

  • Community service: You could be assigned to community service

  • Bond: You could be ordered to enter into a bond.

  • Imprisonment: If there is a major breach, the penalty may carry a sentence of imprisonment.

What to do if you have breached a Family Law order?

It is best to consult with a reputable lawyer who specialises in Family Law.

A skilled family lawyer at Pentana Stanton will seek the lowest penalty by ensuring that the circumstances of your case are clearly put before the Court. A family lawyer can also assist to reopen a case where the breach is attributed to an unfair ruling.

Professional assistance is imperative in legal matters especially in respect of breaches.  A lawyer specialising in Family Law is better equipped to seek orders to suit your specific matter and if you breach an order, strive for the lowest penalty.

Separation and Divorce

What is Separation?

Separation is when you and your partner stop living together in a domestic or marriage-like relationship.
When you decide the relationship is over, you do not need to get your partner’s approval for the separation. You simply have to ensure that he or she knows that the relationship has officially ended.

Separation and divorce create a challenging time for families, especially for children. Following the breakdown of your marriage or de-facto relationship, you and your former partner may need to quickly reach agreements on some practical issues for your family, including:-

• Who the children will live with.
• How much time the children spend with each parent.
• What arrangements will be made for financial support of the children.
• Property and assets division.

These decisions are essential and it is important that you seek independent family law legal advice either before you separate, or as soon as practicable after you separate. This is important to ensure that you are fully informed about what is required when making these important decisions.

What is Divorce?

When you apply for a divorce in Australia, there is no need to consider the causes of the marriage breakdown. The only requirement is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This requirement is normally proven when you and your estranged partner are separated and have been living ‘separate and apart’ for at least 12 months.

After the period of 12 months, you may apply under the Family Law Act for a divorce.
If you had a ‘short marriage’ where you have been married for a period of less than two years, you will be required to obtain a counseling certificate when applying to the Court for a divorce. However, there are some ‘special circumstances’ which provide an exception to this requirement.

Before granting a divorce, the Court must be satisfied that you have made appropriate arrangements for your children’s living and care arrangements.
Once the courts grant your divorce, this will constitute the legal end of your marriage. However, your divorce will not settle issues such as the parenting arrangements for your children, child support, and the division of the property of your marriage or spousal maintenance. These issues are dealt with separately.

If you’re looking for family law services, then speak to our experienced staff today.

Please contact Pentana Stanton Lawyers on (03) 900 22 800 to discuss your Family Law matters and see how we can help you during your difficult time.

HELPING CHILDREN THROUGH FAMILY BREAK DOWN

Children experience a range of emotions during the separation and divorce of their parents. The breakdown of the family unit can result in children being confused, experiencing intense sadness, stress and worry. Other feelings can range from anger, frustration, anxiety and fear. There is no optimum age where you can divorce and avoid your children feeling this way.

Much of the fear and anxiety children experience can occur when they worry whether they will see both their Mother and Father after the family breakdown. Parents can help to reduce their concern by reassuring them that they will still get to spend time with both you and their other parent.  For children who are very anxious, a calendar marking the times when they will see each parent can help them to visualise this and provide comfort and reassurance to them. Reassuring your children can go a long way to reducing the stress and worry they will experience.  Letting children know that you understand this and support your children’s relationship with their other parent enables them to relax and feel “OK” about loving both parents. If you can maintain a ‘pleasant’ or ‘cordial’ relationship with your former spouse/partner your children will cope with separation and divorce more easily.

Make time to be available to talk with your children, and listen to their concerns. It won’t be an easy process, and there will be times you need to reassure your child, even though you are going through stresses yourself. But listening, understanding and working towards stability and reassurance for your child will reduce the painful effects of the separation and divorce and help them to cope with the changes.  Stability, structure and maintaining a timetables or routine, as much as possible, will show that your children can rely on you, and will provide a framework that is dependable and protective.

The changes from separation and divorce involve complex emotions and changes for yourself, and it will often be difficult to maintain your children’s needs. But taking active steps to assist their transition will reap benefits and reduce the pain and confusion your children will be experiencing.  It will be worth the effort!

If you’re looking for family law services, then speak to our experienced staff today.