The unfortunate fact is, in times of separation and divorce, parties often may not agree.
When this happens, you will have the finest Family Law Litigators to get the best possible outcome for you. We want to limit your court time and will give you status updates and realistic timeframes. At Longton Legal, we understand that communication is a vital aspect to reducing stress and anxiety during these times. Our Family Lawyers attend courts all over NSW including Sydney CBD, Sydney West, Sydney South-West and Regional NSW.
Are you having trouble with the divorce process? We are here to help, simply get in touch online or call us. Before you apply for divorce, here are some things you should consider: • Has the relationship broken down irretrievably? In other words, do you expect that there is a chance that you will be able to resume the relationship? • Do you have a copy of your marriage certificate? • Have you been separated for 12 months? • If you have children of the relationship, have appropriate arrangements been made to their schooling, supervision and accommodation? • Have you been married for less than two years? If so, have you attended marriage counselling? Our dedicated team will guide you through the process, and make it as simple and painless for your as possible.
It is not always easy to pinpoint an exact date of “separation”. In fact, the meaning of the word “separation” can be different for different kinds of relationships and individuals. Being able to make a decision about when separation actually happened is central to determining legal issues such as eligibility for divorce, or a property settlement if you were in a defacto relationship. For couples who have separated and continued to live in the same house, proving separation is particularly important and will require consideration of the following factors: 1. changes in sleeping arrangements 2. whether you are still attending family outings together 3. whether you still perform household duties for each other (for example cleaning, cooking, ironing) 4. whether there has been a division of finances; for example, separate bank accounts, and 5. any other matters that show that the relationship has ended (for example, whether you have notified family and friends of your separation). If you are unsure as to whether you have separated, simply get in touch online or call us.
Are you unsure about how to approach your former partner about what sort of parenting arrangement would be in the best interests of the children? Or have you tried and tried, yet failed to achieve an amicable agreement about where the children will live and who the children will spend their Christmas holidays with? We are here to help. Simply get in touch online or call us. It may be that your best way forward is to obtain enforceable Court Orders regarding: 1. whether you will continue to share parental responsibility with respect to long terms decisions involving the children (such as education, health and religion); 2. which home the child shall live in; and 3. how much time the child shall spend with each parent. Applying for Court Orders does not mean that you will need to be involved in a lengthy and confrontational court battle. We can assist you in the process of negotiating a parenting arrangement outside of Court, and finalising the terms of the agreement by way of consent orders.
If you and your former partner cannot agree about which city or country the children will live in, you can apply to a court for orders to allow you to move. The Court’s primary concern will always be the best interests and welfare of the children. If you move without a court order or without the consent of the other party, you may be required to return with the children. If you are concerned that your children may leave Australia without your permission, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. You can apply to the Court for an order that: 1. prevents a passport being issued for children; 2. requires a person to deliver a child’s or accompanying adult’s passport to the Court; 3. prevents children from leaving Australia.
If you have separated from your former partner and you wish to avoid attending Court, there are a number of ways you can formalise an agreed timetable in relation to the children. A Parenting Plan is an agreement that is in writing, was made between the parents of a child; signed by the parents, dated, and deals with one or more of the following matters 1. with whom a child is to live; 2. how much time the child spends with the other parent; 3. identifying which parent is responsible for decision making regarding long term matters involving the child such as education, health and religion; 4. method of communication between the parents; 5. how to resolve dispute regarding the future operation of the plan; or any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child or any other aspect of parental responsibility for a child. The plan can be changed at any time with the agreement of both parents. For more information on the costs and benefits of drawing up a parenting plan simply get in touch online or call us.
Over the course of a relationship, parties often spend years accumulating, selling, reinvesting and simply using up various types of property. You will have property that you own in your sole names and property that you own jointly; all of which forms part of the pool of property that is to be divided. In most cases, working out what you and your former partner would be entitled to out of the total pool of assets involves the following four step approach: 1. What is your property currently worth? 2. What financial, non-financial and homemaker and/or parenting have you made? 3. Do you have greater future needs as a result of the relationship? 4. Is the overall division of the assets and labilities a fair outcome for your both? Simply get in touch online or call us to find out what how the four step process would apply to your circumstances and what your entitlements are.
Binding Financial Agreements
Arriving at a property settlement does not necessarily mean that you have to go to Court. You can enter into a legally binding settlement agreement that is private. These agreements are known as Binding Financial Agreements. Binding Financial Agreements are available to both married and defacto couples. You can make a financial agreement before, during or after a marriage or de facto relationship. These agreements can cover: 1. financial settlement (including superannuation entitlements) after the breakdown of a marriage or a de facto relationship; 2. financial support (also referred to as ‘spousal maintenance’) of one spouse by the other after the breakdown of a marriage or a de facto relationship; 3. and any related issues. For a financial agreement to be legally binding there are many technical requirements, and we highly recommend that you contact us for more information.
Rigid court timetables and procedures can create situations where parties are left at an impasse for months in between court dates. During these periods the circumstances may change dramatically and create urgent situations whereby: 1. in property matters, a sale or transfer of property by the other party must be stopped to avoid matrimonial property being dissipated (also known as Injunctions); or 2. in property and parenting matters, due to a risk of family violence one party is seeking to have the other party restricted from living in the family home. These orders are known as “Exclusive Occupation” orders. Should you find yourself in a similar situation, get in touch online or call us. Our dedicated team will respond quickly by working with you to file an urgent application.
If you are the parent of a child under the age of 18 years, you may be liable for child support if the child does not live with you, or alternatively if the child lives with you may be eligible to seek child support from the other parent. As parents, you have options as to how you can manage child support payments. You can seek a Child Support Assessment from the Department of Human Services. If you choose this option, the department will be responsible for calculation and collection of the funds. Alternatively, you can enter into a private agreement with the other parent. If you chose to enter into a private agreement, you may agree to the following kinds of child support: 1. cash payments; or 2. non-cash items such as: a. health insurance b. school fees 3. sporting fees; or 4. a combination of cash payments and non-cash items. There are advantages and disadvantage to each child support mechanism and we recommend that obtain legal advice in relation to picking the right option for you.
You may have a responsibility to financially assist your former spouse/de facto partner if they are presently unable to support themselves adequately; and if you have the financial capacity to pay either periodical payments or a lump sum amount. Spousal maintenance is normally paid for a short period after separation and can be a huge source of help to the financially vulnerable party, helping them get back onto their feet. On the other hand, spousal maintenance applications can be abusive and unrealistic. Harsh spousal maintenance applications can have a crippling result on the payer's finances. If you have found yourself at the mercy of a daunting spousal maintenance application, we are here to help. Simply get in touch online or call us.
Superannuation contributions have now been a compulsory landmark of the Australian economy for over two decades. As a result, superannuation entitlements are often one of the biggest sources of wealth for Australians. Superannuation entitlements can be divided amongst the parties as part of the property settlement process. However, unlike ordinary assets, splitting your superannuation entitlements does not convert it into a cash asset for either party. Superannuation is still subject to superannuation laws. This means it is usually retained until retirement ages are reached. Get in touch online or call us to find out how this process would apply to your circumstances and what your entitlements are.
De Facto Relationships
Couples in de facto relationships have the same rights and entitlements as married couples when it comes to matters regarding property settlement and parenting orders. However, it may be harder that it seems to prove that a defacto relationships exists in the first place. All relationships are different, and therefore there is no concrete rule. In general, you are in a defacto relationship if you are a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis, considering: 1. the length of the relationship; 2. the circumstances under which you live together; 3. whether a sexual relationship exists; 4. the degree of interdependence between you; 5. mutual commitment to a shared life; 6. the care and support of children; and 7. the reputation and public aspects of the relationship. If you are unsure about whether you are in a de facto relationship simply contact us online or give us a call.
Enforcement of Orders
Have you gone through the hassle of getting final orders (whether in property or parenting) and are now having trouble enforcing them? If your former partner is breaching the orders, there are we can help you enforce the orders against him or her. If the breach of the orders relate to a property matter and you are owed money, you can make a formal application to the Family Law Courts for the enforcement of the orders and the potential imposition of a penalty on the breaching party. Alternatively, if the matter relates to parenting, you may be able to seek orders that compensate you for lost time with the children, vary the existing in orders or punishes the breaching party. For more information call us today.
Often family law matters will have an international aspect. This can arise because one parent is now living overseas or property is located overseas. These matters have an additional layer of complexity, and will require expert and considered legal advice. Some common issues which arise in international family law matters are: 1. parenting arrangements where parents live in different countries; 2. deciding which country is the correct jurisdiction in which to start the case; 3. understanding the varying types of assets that can be held in different jurisdictions; 4. Hague Convention applications for the return of children to Australia; and enforcement of Australian Orders to overseas assets. Get in touch with us online or call us to receive expert advice on your circumstances and what your entitlements are.
Senior Associate & Accredited Family Law Specialist
Associate and Office Manager (Parramatta)