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Speaking to a Divorce Lawyer about Treatment of Assets after Separation

When parties to a relationship separate or divorce, they will at some stage need to divide their property through the process of a property settlement. Time limits apply to applications to the court for property settlement.[1]

Sometimes there can be a significant delay between the date of separation and date of a final property settlement. This may be because one party does not accept that the marriage is over or they do not want to meet with a divorce lawyer.  It may also be because the parties just want to get on with their lives and avoid the perceived complexity relating to a property law settlement.  This type of delay can have an impact on the final settlement, particularly if one of the parties receives an inheritance or other large lump sum payment after separation.

It is often thought that property acquired after separation will be excluded from the property pool to be divided between the parties. This was an issue that the Full Court of the Family Court of Western Australia considered in the recent case of Calvin v McTier [2017] Fam CAFC 125. In this case the husband acquired a significant inheritance from his father’s Estate four years after the parties separated. The Trial Judge found the net value of the matrimonial property to be $1,340,319.00.  The inheritance remaining at the time of the trial was $430,686.00.

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Child Custody & Child Custody Laws

Child Custody Laws and Child Custody Rights are terms often used when parents seek advice in relation to parenting disputes. When parties make competing parenting applications, the Court is required to consider what is in the best interests of the child.

Children’s Rights

Child Custody Rights relate to the rights of the subject child, not the parents.

The rights of a child can be summarised into two primary considerations:

  1. The child’s right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents; and
  2. The child’s right to be protected from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.

If the primary considerations conflict then the need to protect the child prevails.

The best interests’ principle is the overarching and paramount consideration in all parenting matters. Primary considerations, together with an extensive and broad list of additional considerations are matters that the Court will take into account when determining what is in the child’s best interest. An experienced family lawyer can advise you on which considerations are relevant to your circumstance.

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Divorce Lawyer

At Matthews Folbigg Lawyers, a Divorce Lawyer will work closely with you to ensure you are well aware of your entitlements when being advised about family law issues relating to:

  • Divorce;
  • Property settlement;
  • Superannuation;
  • Separation agreements;
  • Parenting and custody disputes;
  • Child support.

A Divorce Lawyer at Matthews Folbigg family law specialists regularly provide professional advice to clients about how to protect their assets in the event their marriage or relationship breaks down (by entering into a prenuptial agreement), how best to make arrangements for your children following divorce and how to apply for child support following divorce.

How do you know when you can apply for a divorce?

Parties who have been validly married and subsequently separated for a period of at least 12 months may apply to the Court for a divorce.

Once a Divorce Application is filed with the Court, a hearing date is allocated approximately 6 weeks later. Before the hearing date, the Application must be served on your ex-spouse. There are rules about this and legal advice is recommended by an experienced Divorce Lawyer from Matthews Folbigg Lawyers.

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Child Support Lawyers

Parents going through a separation may be required to pay child support. This may involve a payment being made by one or both parents to the other to help with the cost of looking after the children.

The child support assessment process is administered by the Australian Government, Department of Human Services (“DHS”). A parent may make an application to DHS for a child support assessment. DHS would take into account a number of factors including the income of each parent and the percentage care of the child or children. A change to the circumstances of each parent or of the child can change the calculation of child support. This can be a significant source of conflict.

In order to provide certainty and stability, parents may agree to make a legally enforceable agreement about the amount or frequency of child support that is to be paid, as well as how these payments are calculated. Parents may also reach an agreement relating to additional expenses for a child including school fees, clothing or payments for extra-curricular activities. A Binding Child Support Agreement is a written agreement signed by both parents that allows parents to agree on these issues. This may be for an amount that is less than or more than the Child Support assessment that would otherwise apply.

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Prenuptial Agreement

More frequently spouses who propose to enter into a De facto Relationships or intend to marry are wishing to minimise conflict in the event that despite their best efforts, the relationship might not work out. Since 2002 in relation to married couples and 2009 in relation to De facto and same sex couples; the legislation has provided parties with a mechanism whereby they can enter into a binding financial agreement / prenuptial agreement which will govern the separation of their finances in the event that the relationship should break down.

There are certain requirements that must be followed to ensure that such agreements are binding.

The requirements include:

(a) That each party must be independently legally advised.

(b) The Agreement needs to identify the relevant legislative section that is relying upon.

(c) The Agreement needs to comply with the Family Law Act in terms of the specifics of what is being released and on what terms.

The court has a limited ability to rectify a defective agreement, however on the whole, if those legal requirements are not met, the parties can enter into an agreement but it may not be binding.

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Divorce Lawyer Parramatta

When a marriage comes to an end, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and emotional. You may also feel uneasy about taking the step of seeing a Divorce Lawyer and obtaining legal advice.  At Matthews Folbigg Lawyers our team of Divorce Lawyers are highly skilled and experienced in all aspects of Family Law including but not limited to:

  • Negotiation of property settlements;
  • Negotiations of parenting arrangements and child custody;
  • Representation of clients in court proceedings conducted in the Federal Circuit and Family Court;
  • Divorce proceedings;
  • Financial agreements and Child Support Agreements.

You need to have peace of mind that the Divorce Lawyer you choose is one that you can rely on and trust to deal with your matter to the best of their ability.

At Matthews Folbigg Lawyers, you can rest assured that your Divorce Lawyer will not see you as just another client. We take every client’s matter seriously and give every client the commitment and dedication that they deserve and tailor our advice to suit your matter and ensure that you understand the advice given to you by your Divorce Lawyer.  We will advise you of the progress and discuss options with you at every step of the way.

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Benefits of Consulting with a Marriage Lawyer

When a marriage or de facto relationship breaks down, it can be a stressful time. Part of this process may involve the separation of assets, which may include the family home, business interests, investments, savings and superannuation.   If a mutual agreement cannot be reached, the Court can determine the settlement. Obtaining the right financial and legal advice from a marriage lawyer at the early stages of this process can help a party to navigate their way through the Family Law system and make decisions about their assets and superannuation that provides a better outcome.

Superannuation Splitting as part of a property settlement

Superannuation is an asset that can usually be divided as part of a property settlement. Sometimes it is not possible to split superannuation.  For example:

  1. When the interest is of little or no value, when it would not be cost effective to do so (see The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s guide “Splitting Laws – Frequently Asked Questions”);
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Child Custody Laws Advice

Isn’t 50/50 care my right under child custody laws?

With the emphasis on both parents being more involved in the care of children after separation many people assume that parenting law now guarantees a shared care or 50/50 split of the child’s time with each parent.

While the overriding principle since the Family Law Act commenced in 1975 is that all parenting arrangements should be made ‘in the best interests of the child’ a series of changes to family law since 1996 has seen a steady move from the notion of ‘parents child custody rights’ to an approach which prioritises the rights of children.

Section 60CC of the Act focuses on the importance of children being safe from harm and having a ‘meaningful relationship with each parent’. Family law also encourages parents to work together (where it is safe to do so) and negotiate care arrangements which best suit their children and their individual circumstances. The old notion of child custody ‘rights’ gives way to a more responsive outcome.
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