Julia Barling from Maddens Lawyers is an experienced family lawyer and has the following advice to assist with family-related legal needs.
Good legal advice can make a huge difference in your family law case
Going to court for a family law case can cause a lot of anxiety. There are often many emotions involved. Having good legal advice either before you separate from your partner or soon after can make the family law proceedings much less stressful.
Making a plan for your children
If you have children, it is important to have a plan for where the children will live, when they will spend time with the other parent and how they will be financially supported after separation. You can work this out directly with the other parent, but if you can't agree, a lawyer can help. They will talk to the other parent or their lawyer on your behalf and help come up with an agreement about the care and support of the children.
Sorting out your finances
It is important that you gather all the right information together. This includes bank accounts, property valuations, trusts, mortgages, shares and superannuation information. Having all relevant information will make sure that you get accurate advice about what you are entitled to in a property settlement and how this could be structured. As with children, your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf.
What happens to your agreement
It is a good idea to have your agreement formalised as court orders. This means that they are approved by the court and are enforceable against the other person if they don't comply.
If you can't agree
If you can't reach an agreement about your children or property settlement the next step is to go to court. Before going to court you must show that you have made a reasonable effort to resolve your issues. This often involves attending mediation. If a mediator is satisfied that you have made a real effort to reach an agreement, they will give you a certificate that allows you to go to court.
The process of going to court needs a lot of paperwork to be filed. You must prepare an affidavit explaining the history of the relationship and why the court should make the orders that you are seeking.
Having good legal advice early in the process will help you understand what needs to be done and how to prepare your court documents.
If you have been separated for more than 12 months, you can apply for a divorce. You can make this application yourself or a lawyer can do it for you. If you haven't resolved your financial affairs by that time, it is important that you speak to a lawyer as you only have one year after a divorce is granted to apply for a property settlement.