Experienced in Family Law Matters
We provide an understanding approach, with realistic advice on Family Law matters.
Pentana Stanton’s family lawyers advocate zealously and persuasively on your behalf. We lead productive dialogues focused on effective resolutions, work in the best interest of children when they are involved and remain closely involved and supportive throughout the process. Our behaviours consistently reflect good lawyering practices.
Family law describes laws and courts that regulate issues arising out of family relationships, with ‘family’ a broad term reflecting the diversity of relationships brought about by social change in Australia over the last century. We are well-versed in family law matters and provide insightful, comprehensive advice patiently and cost-effectively. Here are some areas of family law in our professional portfolio.
Separation and Divorce
Legally speaking, separation happens when a couple or one of them conclude that their relationship is over and, in most cases, stop living under the same roof as a couple (some may continue living in the same house for financial reasons).
You don’t have to sign any legal document when you’re separating from your partner, but some of your legal rights will change and the necessary actions need to be taken from your side.
- If you have kids, then child support and the time that each parent gets to spend with the child should be negotiated. Most couples rely on a family lawyer to arrange a mutually agreeable solution.
- You and your partner will need to determine how you want to divide your property and debts. If and when you reach and agreement, you can have it formalised by applying for consent orders in the Family Court.
We are often called upon to clarify whether current arrangements are characterised as separation, and what needs to be done to satisfy the court’s requirements for separation. Understand your legal rights and responsibilities as well as how the law applies to your case.
Legally married, and not de facto couples, can apply for a divorce if you have been separated from your spouse for at least 12 months and you have lived separately under one roof for those 12 months, or for some part during that time. You can make the application for a divorce with the Family Court individually or jointly with your spouse.
Divorce cases are influenced by a number of factors, including citizenship, residency, length of time separated, property and whether children are involved. Some may turn to a lawyer to complete an application for divorce, but a majority engage a family lawyer to represent them in court.
Child Support and Maintenance
Under the Child Support (Assessment) Act, the primary carer of the child can ask the other parent for financial support to cover the costs of day-to-day care. Child support is administered by the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). Factors determining child support include each parent’s income, the number of children, and the children’s living arrangements.
Child support payments fall into three categories:
Periodic payments, where regular payments of fixed amounts are made.
Non-periodic payments, where the agreement or court requires non-periodic payments, such as school fees, to be made. The agreement or court will also determine whether or not these payments will decrease the annual rate of child support.
Lumpsum provision, paid as a credit balance to address ongoing costs. The agreement or court will specify the percentage of liabilities that can be drawn from the lumpsum credit.
There are two types of child support agreements. A binding agreement, which is a formal, written agreement signed by both parents, drafted into after seeking professional legal advice and including a statement confirming that each party has received independent legal advice and is cognisant of the effect, advantages and disadvantages (if any) of the agreement. A limited child support agreement does not need to be entered into on independent legal advice, but an administrative assessment must be in place at the time of entering into the agreement.
Each parent has the right to object to the decision, matter that is internally reviewed by the department. Our family lawyers have helped parents understand the requirements for a child support agreement, get the best possible outcome in an assessment, and advised unsatisfied parents on objecting to an original review decision.
Children’s Matters Involving DHS
When separated parents are unable to reach a mutually agreeable decision on arrangements for their children, and child abuse is reported, then family law courts may order the Department of Human Resources to investigate the matter. The DHS may serve you a Protection Application, Supervision Order or Interim Accommodation Order (or similar).
If you need to go to the Children’s Court for a child protection case, you will want to consult our family lawyers to learn about your choices and advocate strongly in the event that the court is being asked to remove your child from your care.
Family Violence and Intervention Orders (IVO)
A domestic or family violence order is prescribed to protect an individual from violent, threatening or other controlling or coercive behaviour by a member of the individual’s family. According to Section 4AB of the Family Law Act, a child is exposed to family violence if he/she sees or hears family violence or experiences the effects of family violence.
You can obtain an intervention order by making an application at the local Magistrates’ Court. For immediate protection, you need to apply for an interim intervention order. We can assist with the application process, helping ensure that the Magistrate is satisfied, and the order is obtained quickly.
The person named in the order is forbidden from approaching or committing violence against the affected party. It gives police the power to immediately arrest the individual who fails to comply with these conditions.
In some instances, you may have to prepare for a contested hearing on your family violence matter. If you have been charged with an offence related to breaching a family violence intervention order, our lawyers can familiarise you with your options and probable outcomes. When served with an order, you can consent to the order, request for the proceedings to be adjourned so you can seek legal advice, oppose the order or do nothing and not attend court. Inaction is ill-advised as a domestic violence order can make it difficult to obtain professional licensing and adversely affect security and weapons’ licenses.
Injunctions and Urgent Applications
The usual procedure for going about applications in the family courts is to prepare and file an initiating application and supporting evidence material. The court then takes 5-6 weeks to list the matter and serve the application upon the other party. In urgent situations where intervention by a judge must occur at the earliest, then an urgent application must be made. For example, the parent with whom the child is living may be taken away from him/her or the other party may have started selling the assets of the marriage/relationship.
When an urgent application is the need of the hour, our lawyers can get involved immediately and obtain an early listing date. We can assist with obtaining an injunction in a matter where your spouse is handling property in a detrimental way. It is also possible that the court may order third-parties to take the requisite actions to protect the assets of the marriage/relationship. Such orders are taken only after strict deliberation, so it is essential that you engage the services of a qualified attorney who can work agilely within the court system and get the job done.
Parents, whether married, in a relationship, separated or remarried, have a parental responsibility towards their children until they turn 18 years old. If parents cannot agree on their individual responsibilities, then the court can issue parenting orders. A parenting order may include agreements concerning who the child will live with, how much time the child will spend with each parent, how parental responsibility will be divided, the methods of communication between the child and the parent he/she does not live with, and other aspects of child care and welfare.
The court can also approve and consent to an agreement reached between both parties at any point in the legal process. The court will always place the best interest of the child above all else.
If you’re in the midst of a parental dispute or want to take action in the event that your child is at risk of abuse or violence, our experienced lawyers can assist you in the following ways:
- Provide you with pragmatic advice on how to negotiate with your partner in relation to parenting arrangements;
- Design a shared care arrangement between you and your partner, tailored to your needs and lifestyle, as well as to overcome any concerns you may have;
- Draft and document a parenting plan to reflect your agreements;
- Draft Consent parenting orders further to your parenting plan, or your agreements between you and your partner;
- Negotiate with your partner or their legal representative on your behalf;
- Represent you in Court proceedings involving parenting matters; and
- Make urgent applications in a case of emergency, for example with:
- Prepare applications for Recovery Orders if your partner has unreasonably withheld the child from you; or
- Prepare applications for an Airport Watch List Order if you suspect your partner may leave the country with the child.
The emotional challenges surrounding a separation can often outweigh financial concerns. It is critical that each party considers how their financial future will be affected and give importance to how assets (property) of the marriage or de facto relationship (if the couples has been living together for two years or longer) will be divided.
Property settlement for divorcing couples follows four steps:
- Identification and valuation of the couple’s assets, liabilities and financial resources
- Assessment of financial and non-financial contributions
- Determination of the future needs of both parties
- A further evaluation of whether the decisions taken in the first three steps are just and equitable in all circumstances
Our lawyers have helped couples achieve favourable outcomes in instances where couples have resolved the matter on their own as well as when they have had to go to court.
In the former case, we provide practical legal advice on how you can negotiate effectively with your partner and settle disputes amicably and cost-effectively. In the latter situation, we can assist in the following ways:
- Advise you in relation to your rights in all matters, including family trusts;
- Draft any documents or agreements you and your partner have reached, and advise if they can be made legally binding; and
- Represent you in court to obtain a property settlement.
Binding Financial Agreements
Over the years, married and de facto couples have chosen to enter into binding financial agreements for clarity, protection and peace of mind. The agreements allow couples to envision their financial future, such as spousal maintenance, succession planning, and who will receive superannuation, among others.
Our lawyers have prepared binding financial agreements for couples prior to their marriage, after marriage, after separation and for those in de facto relationships. We advise you to consider preparing a binding financial agreement if you own significant assets and/or real estate; you’re a designated beneficiary of a trust fund set up by your parents; earn a high income; or if you’re likely to receive a substantial inheritance or gift in the future.
Call Now For Initial Consultation. Our family lawyers provide friendly and understanding service for all family law matters. We provide fully and comprehensive advice and act promptly to progress your family matter.