Family Lawyers in Dandenong, Melbourne
Pentana Stanton Lawyer’s main area of practice is in Family Law. Our offices are located within the Family Court precincts in both Melbourne and Dandenong.
Our firm provides a high standard of legal advice and representation in all areas of Family Law including property settlements, parenting matters and divorce. Our family lawyers also appear regularly in the Children’s Courts and Magistrates’ Courts in relation to children, DHHS applications and Family Violence matters.
We provide an understanding approach, with realistic advice on all aspects of family law.
Pentana Stanton’s family lawyers act proactively to settle matters by agreement if at all possible. This method of resolution ensures that our client’s remain in control of their case and personal lives and that their life decisions are not given over to the courts. Agreed settlements are also the most cost effective way of resolving any family dispute relating to either parenting or property matters.
If an agreed settlement is not possible, our family lawyers are experts in court representation and contested court proceedings. Our lawyers are experienced in all areas of family law, regardless of complexity.
Our firm is also on the Victorian Legal Aid panel and can operate under government grants if available to our clients. If Legal Aid funding is not available, we also offer a range of payment options to assist all our clients with getting their cases progressing as quickly as possible.
Family, Separation and Divorce Lawyers
Separation occurs when one or both parties to a relationship (either married or de facto) conclude that the relationship is over. Usually the parties cease cohabitation at the same time, but this is not always the case. The law also recognizes the separation can occur while the parties to the relationship continue to live under the one roof.
You do not have to do anything immediately upon separation. However, it is important to to consider the following as these matters usually become significant issues following separation:
- Parenting Matters – If you have kids, then a decision will need to be made regarding where the children are going to live and how much time they are going to spend with each parent. In some circumstances these arrangements can be reached amicably between the parties. If not, our family lawyers will be able to provide advise and negotiate on your behalf to determine a suitable arrangement.
- Financial Support – In situations where you have been relying on your partner for financial support due to your obligations as a parent, you will need to make arrangements for child support, and in some situations, spousal support.
- Property Settlement – This is separate from financial support as this relates to the division of assets, including houses, vehicles, cash holdings, investments, superannuation and liabilities among other things. If an agreed settlement can be reached in respect of the assets, then our family lawyers will be able to formalize the terms of settlement as a Binding Financial Agreement or as Consent Orders. If an agreed property settlement cannot be reached, our lawyers will be able to provide advice and representation in other avenues of settlement, including mediation and commencing court proceedings in the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court.
- Divorce – Married couples can apply for a divorce once the parties have been separated for 12 months. An application for divorce will be filed at the Federal Circuit Court and can be filed as a joint or sole application. If your former partner is agreeable to the divorce, you can mutually sign the divorce documents and share the cost of filing. This also makes the divorce process easier as you will usually not be required to attend court. If your former spouse is not willing to do so, you can still file your divorce as a sole application, however, you will need to ensure that all necessary Service Obligations are met in order for your divorce to be finalized. Our legal team is accustomed to these issues and will be able to finalize your divorce application in an efficient and organized manner.
Child Support Lawyers
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.
Lump sum 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 lump sum 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 the decision and have the matter reviewed internally by the department. Our child support 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 DHHS
When family violence or child abuse is reported, the Department of Health and Human Services (hereafter “DHHS”) as a duty to investigate with a focus on the well being of the children. Upon assessment of your case, the DHHS agent has the power to remove your children from your home if they consider that the children are in significant risk of harm. DHHS can also serve you with a Protection Application, Supervision Order or Interim Accommodation Order (or similar).
Court appearances originating from DHHS are heard at the Children’s Court. If DHHS has made an application regarding your children at the Children’s Court, then you urgently need to consult one of our family law specialist to receive advice regarding your options and what you can do to address the concerns raised by DHHS. It is important to do so early, as the court does have the power to remove the children from your care if all relevant concerns are not addressed appropriately.
Family Violence and Intervention Orders (IVO)
A domestic or family violence order is prescribed to protect an individual from violent, threatening, other controlling or coercive behaviour by a family member.
You can obtain an intervention order by going to the police or 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 that the necessary elements are satisfied and that the order is obtained quickly.
Once the order is served on the offending party, the person named in the order is forbidden from approaching or committing violence against you. It also gives police the power to immediately arrest individuals who fail 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 prepare your defence.
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 waiting period between filing a court application and the first court appearance is between 6 to 8 weeks. In some situations, you simply cannot wait this long and an urgent application must be filed. This usually occurs due to one of the following:
- One of the parents has taken the children and is refusing to return them.
- There is a significant risk that one of the parents is intending to take the children out of the country and not return them to Australia.
- In property matters, an urgent application can be made in situations where one of the parties is trying to disburse of matrimonial assets.
When an urgent application is needed, it is important that your application is filed quickly and correctly. At court, small mistakes can cause significant delay, so it is very important that your application is filed correct from the onset.
Parenting Disputes and Child Custody Lawyers in Dandenong
Parents, whether married, in a relationship, separated or remarried, have a parental responsibility towards their children until they turn 18 years of age. 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 middle of a parental dispute or want to take action in the event that your child is at risk of abuse or violence, our experienced child custody 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.
- Negotiate with your former partner or their lawyer on your behalf.
- Design a shared care arrangement between you and your former partner, tailored to your needs and lifestyle.
- Draft and document a parenting plan to reflect your agreement.
- Draft Consent parenting orders further to your parenting plan, or your agreements between you and your former partner.
- Represent you in Court proceedings involving parenting matters,
- Make any necessary urgent application.
- File for the recovery of your children if your partner has unreasonably withheld your children from you; or
- Prepare applications for an Airport Watch List Order if you suspect your partner may leave the country with your children.
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 family 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 an Initial Consultation with one of our lawyers in either Melbourne CBD or Dandenong.
Our family lawyers provide friendly and understanding service for all family law matters in Melbourne and surrounding suburbs. We provide full and comprehensive advice and act promptly to progress your family matter.