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Family Law

Whilst clients are looking for quality work in a timely and cost-effective manner, a truly valuable lawyer is one that carefully listens to your needs and provides support and guidance. This couldn’t be more true than when it comes to family law.

Not only can family breakdown be a stressful and emotionally draining time, it can easily become a complicated legal web for families to have to navigate. At Keir Steele Waldon Lawyers, we strive to minimise unnecessary stress. Our Family Law Team takes the time to understand your individual situation to secure outcomes that are in the best interests of you and your family.

Download our free resources and get in contact with our team today.

Separation and Divorce

A divorce is an order made by the Federal Circuit and Family Court dissolving a marriage.

In Australia, there is no requirement that one party be at fault to divorce. That is, when considering an application for a divorce Order, the Court does not consider why the marriage ended.

To be granted a Divorce Order in Australia there must be an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage with no reasonable likelihood of resuming the relationship. This can be satisfied if the spouses have lived separately and apart for at least 12 months.

Applications for a Divorce can either be made jointly by both parties, or by one party on their own. To apply for a Divorce, at least one spouse must:

  • regard Australia as their home and intend to live in Australia indefinitely; or
  • be an Australian citizen by birth or descent or by grant of Australian citizenship; or
  • ordinarily live in Australia and have done so for 12 months before filing for divorce.

There must be appropriate arrangements in place for any children of the marriage before a Divorce Order will be granted.

You may commence negotiations or property settlement proceedings before you apply for a divorce. Note, once you have been granted a divorce, you must commence property settlement proceedings within one year.

A divorce order will legally dissolve your marriage, but it will not finalise matters of your marriage such as the living arrangements for your children and child support, the division of your marital property, or spousal maintenance.

Property Settlement

Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), the term ‘property’ encompasses all assets owned by both parties from cash, cars and real estate to family businesses and shares in companies, superannuation, trusts, redundancy payments, overseas assets, and more.

After parties have separated, they may decide between themselves how to divide their property.

The Family Court will take into account the assets, liabilities and resources of the parties at the time of trial, this forms the “property pool” that is available for division. ‘Property’ is given a broad definition so to include every possible interest a party may have.

Parties can reach an agreement to divide the property pool without going to court.

If the parties are not able to reach an agreement, either party may make an application to the Court to commence property settlement proceedings where an order will be made which divides the property pool justly and equitably. The parties must disclose all current assets, liabilities, and financial resources before the court can make orders for property adjustment.

Very strict time limits apply to make an application to the Court for property settlement. These time limits differ between de facto and married couples.

Mediation

Conflict or disagreement of any kind causes stress to the parties.

Lucia Taylor is a qualified mediator and is available to conduct mediations, with interest in property settlement. We can bring people together to work out mutually agreeably solutions in a safe, private, and comfortable environment.

We’ll provide an informal, cost-effective, confidential, and timely alternative to resolving differences without having to go to Court.

As Mediators we act as a neutral third party that helps people work together.

In contrast to the Courts system, we do not take sides or impose a decision on the parties.

We can assist you to reach agreements on any matters of conflict that arise post separation including children, division of property and child support.

Domestic Violence

At Keir Steele Waldon Lawyers, we can assist you with:

  • Making an application for a domestic violence order against someone;
  • Opposing an application for a domestic violence order made against you;
  • Consenting to an order being made without admission;
  • Appealing or varying a domestic violence order made against you.

What is domestic violence? Domestic violence is behaviour in a relationship that:

  • Is physically or sexually abusive; or
  • Is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or
  • Is economically abusive; or
  • Is threatening; or
  • Is coercive; or
  • Controls or dominates another person causing fear for that person’s own safety or the safety of someone else.

The law in Queensland provides protection for someone if they have suffered or are suffering domestic violence in any of the following types of relationships:

  • An intimate personal relationship (married, engaged, de facto or dating);
  • A family relationship (children, relatives or parents);
  • An informal care relationship (someone who is dependent upon another for help in activities of daily living).

If you have been the victim of domestic violence and you are in need of protection from domestic violence, you are able to make an application to the court for an order to protect you. It is important that you obtain legal advice before making an application to ensure that you have the best chance of protecting yourself from any further violence.

You may be able to make an urgent application to the court for a temporary protection order if you believe your safety is at risk.

Someone else has made an application for a protection order against me

If you wish to oppose an order being made you will need to go to court, provide your defence and explain why the order should not be made against you. We can assist you to prepare the necessary documents and attend court on your behalf, giving you the best chance of successfully opposing the orders being sought.

If a domestic violence order has been made against you, the court will impose very strict conditions upon you. If you do not follow the terms set down in an order the police could charge you with a criminal offence, so it is best to avoid an order being made against you at all.

If you agree with the order being made, then you can consent to the order. If you are considering consenting to the order, you should still obtain legal advice before doing so to ensure that you understand what you are agreeing to, and how a domestic violence order might affected you.

If an order has been made against you and you wish to vary its conditions we can also assist you in applying to the court to vary the domestic violence order.

Children

If you are going through a separation or divorce, it’s important to consider parenting arrangements for your children.

The paramount consideration is what is in the best interest of the children and the children’s right to have the benefit of both of their parents having a meaningful involvement in their lives.

It is beneficial for everyone involved when parents can work towards their own agreement for the future living and parenting arrangements for their children. However, this is not always an option and you may need legal advice to do this.

When parents can reach an agreement outside of court, that agreement in writing and signed is recorded as a Parenting Plan, or the parenting agreement can be documented formally as an Application for Consent Orders and filed with the Family Court of Australia for the Court to make a parenting order by consent.

When parents cannot reach agreement, an application to the court is filed for the court to make a Parenting Order.

Spousal maintenance

A party to a marriage or a de facto relationship may be eligible to receive Spousal Maintenance from their former partner. This liability extends equally to husbands and wives and continues after the marriage has ended.

The liability is however affected by the actual circumstances of the parties.  A party to a marriage is only liable to maintain the other to the extent that the first party is reasonably able to do so, and if, and only if, the other party is unable to support themselves adequately.  The reasons are:

  • having the care and control of a child of the marriage who is not yet age 18; or
  • age or physical or mental incapacity for appropriate gainful employment; or
  • any other adequate reason.

If one party applies to the Court for spousal maintenance, the Court can only take into account certain prescribed matters when deciding whether and how maintenance should be paid.  Those matters are listed in Section 75(2) of the Family Law Act, a copy of which we have enclosed for your reference.

Unlike child support, spousal maintenance does not have a specific formula to calculate how much, if any, a person is liable to pay.

There are many factors to consider and each case will be different. It is therefore important you seek legal advice if you believe you may be eligible to receive or liable to pay spousal maintenance.

Child support

Services Australia use a basic eight step formula to calculate how much child support is payable by one parent to the other.  The amount is worked out considering the parent’s income and combined income, how much parenting time you have with your child and the child’s age. The parent’s cost percentage is worked out using a care and cost table. The amount of your child support assessment can change each year if there are changes to your income and/or care arrangements.

Assessments for the payment of child support may be changed in special circumstances which may include one parent having responsibility for certain costs such as school fees and other education expenses, or other extra-curricular/sporting costs.

Parents can privately negotiate the child support payable by one parent. This agreement can be formalised as a Binding Child Support Agreement.  Both parents must obtain independent legal advice. Where the agreement is properly formalised, a Binding Child Support Agreement is legally binding on the parties and its terms can be enforced.

Alternatively, you may require legal advice and assistance because you are not be satisfied with the Assessment of child support you have received.

It is important to seek legal advice in relation to your child support matters to ensure that the best outcome is achieved for you and your children.

Contact The Keir Steele Waldon Family Law Team For Advice On:

  • Divorce and Separation
  • Property Settlement
  • Mediation
  • Spousal Maintenance
  • Surrogacy
  • Children's Matters
    • Child Support
    • Parenting Orders
  • Domestic Violence
    • Protection Orders

Family Law Team

Family Law Special Counsel Lucia Taylor
Family Law Dina Falcomer
Family Law Claudia Leslie


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