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‘I Want a Divorce’ – Divorce Lawyer Advice

By Andrew Banna, a Principal of Matthews Folbigg, in our Family Law Group.

Divorce Lawyer advice; Can I apply for a divorce?

In Australia you can apply for a divorce with a divorce lawyer if either you or your spouse:

  • Regard Australia as your home and intend to live in Australia indefinitely, or
  • Are an Australian citizen by birth, descent or by grant of Australian citizenship, or
  • Ordinarily live in Australia and have done so for 12 months immediately before filing for divorce.

Additionally, you must be able to prove to the Court that you and your spouse have lived separately and apart (it is possible to live in the same home and still be separated) for a minimum of 12 months and that there is no existent likelihood of resuming married life.

Divorce Applications

This is where seeking legal advice and assistance is recommended. Prior to filing a divorce application a divorce lawyer can assist you in identifying your legal rights and obligations. They are able to assist in providing divorce advice in relation to your child custody rights as well as property settlements.
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Divorce Lawyer advice on dealing with different contributions in a property settlement agreement

By Andrew Banna, a Principal of Matthews Folbigg, in our Family Law Group In discussions around a property settlement agreement with a divorce lawyer, it is often thought that the focus is only on the financial contributions.

In 1995 Justice Fogarty of the Family Court addressed the issue of contributions in divorce settlements by divorce lawyer in the case of Waters v Jurek;

“In most marriages there is a division of roles, duties and responsibilities between the parties… On separation, the partnership and the division of roles and responsibilities which it produced come to an end, and individually the parties are left largely in the personal situation that the marriage had assigned to them. However, the world outside the marriage does not recognise some of the activities that within the marriage used to be regarded as valuable contributions…. Post separation the party who had assumed the less financially rewarded responsibility of the marriage is at an immediate disadvantage. Yet that party often cannot simply turn to more financially rewarding activities.  Often, opportunities to do so are no longer open, or, if they are, time is required before they can be assessed and acted upon”.
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Divorce lawyer advice about property settlements

By Andrew Banna, a Principal of Matthews Folbigg, in our Family Law Group. In the event of a divorce or separation, parties will need to arrange the division of assets and debts. There are a few different avenues that could be taken with a divorce lawyer to do this depending upon your unique situation. Such avenues may include:

  1. An agreement being reached between you and your former partner on the division of property without Court interference ; or
  2. An agreement by applying to the Family Court for consent orders; or
  3. The matter proceeds to Court and a Judge could ultimately determine the outcome of your case.

With guidance of a divorce lawyer you will be able to have a clearer understanding of the general principles under the Family Law Act that are deliberated in property settlement orders; thus enhancing your chance of receiving a positive outcome.

The principles consist of:

  • Working out what you’ve got and what you owe, that is your assets and debts and what they are worth;
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Divorce Advice when Children are Involved

By Andrew Banna, a Principal of Matthews Folbigg, in our Family Law Group.

It is important to recognise that divorce and parenting arrangements are two separate matters. There is a requirement that individuals wait a year in order to divorce however this time restriction is not in place in relation to making parenting arrangements. Couples can be separated and never divorce, however they are permitted to engage in parenting proceedings with a divorce lawyer immediately after separation.

In the event of a divorce or relationship breakdown it is highly recommended that individuals seek advice, particularly when children are involved. Legal advice from a divorce lawyer can assist you and your partner in negotiating and reaching short-term arrangements prior to implementing formal Court orders that may become necessary if an agreement cannot be reached.

Such short-term agreements may consist of:

  • Where the child/children will live until you reach a final agreement
  • Who will occupy the family home
  • How much time the children will spend with each parent
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Unhappy with your current Parenting Arrangement? How to Change your Family Court Orders

In 2016, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia made Orders with the consent of both parents. In summary, they were that the child live with the mother and spend time with the father and the time with the father was to increase as the child increased in age. The parents lived, and continue to live in different towns. In 2018, the father’s divorce lawyer brought fresh proceedings based on two possible scenarios:

  1. If the mother relocates near the father, the child to spend equal time with the parents, or
  2. If the mother does not relocate, he sought Orders in the reverse so that the child lives with him.

In order to revise family law court Orders, the case of Rice & Asplund [1978] FamCA 84 requires the existence of a material change of circumstances. The father’s divorce lawyer argued that since the time of making the consent Orders, his circumstances had changed in three ways:

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The Basics of a Divorce

By Andrew Banna, a Principal of Matthews Folbigg, in our Family Law Group

Our Family Law Group consists of 7 family law lawyers. We have 4 Accredited Specialists in the area.

We have been recognised as one of the leaders in the Family Law market through Doyles rankings.

We specialise in all aspects of family law such as divorce.

A lot of clients come to our family law lawyers for assistance with a divorce.  Despite the common misconception, a divorce actually does not involve sorting out your parenting or property matters. A divorce simply means dissolving your marriage because you want to remarry or you just would like to formalise what is happening in your life.

You can’t apply to the Court for a divorce until you have been separated for at least 12 months.  There are special rules where you can be separated under the one roof which requires extra documentation. However, unless you have been separated for 12 months you can’t commence the process.
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Child Custody Laws and Independent Children’s Lawyers

An independent children’s lawyer, also known as an ICL, is a Court-appointed lawyer who acts independently to represent the child’s interests in family law proceedings regarding child custody laws. The child, an organization concerned with the welfare of the child or any other person may apply for an ICL to be appointed. The Court may then make an order to appoint an ICL who will attempt to find out what the views of the child are.

The Full Court in Re K [1994] FamCA 21 provided some guidance on what the court might consider when appointing an ICL in matters involving child custody laws, including:

  • Alleged child abuse
  • Unsuitability of either parent
  • Parental conflict
  • Proposal to relocate the child far away
  • Alienation from a parent
  • A parent’s sexual preferences
  • Special medical procedure for the child

Role of the ICL

The role of the ICL is not to take instructions from the child, but rather, to represent the child’s best interests. The ICL should form an independent view of what is in the child’s best interests according to the evidence, act in the child’s best interests and make submissions to the Court regarding the child’s best interests. The child’s best interests must be distinguished, however, from the child’s wishes. An ICL is not obliged to follow the child’s wishes and may disclose information about the child against their wishes if necessary.

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What Do Child Custody Laws Say If Your Child Doesn’t Want To See the Other Parent?

Relationship breakdown can often be a difficult and turbulent time for your children. To navigate this time, some families seek parenting orders from the Court to determine where the children should live and when they can see the other parent. But what do child custody laws say if your child does not want to see the other parent? According to child custody laws, certain obligations exist for the resident parent to comply with the Court orders, some of which are considered below.

Positive Obligation to Encourage Access

In the matter of Stevenson and Hughes (1993) 112 FLR 415, the mother pinned the father’s telephone number near the telephone and informed the child they could call the father whenever they liked. On a separate occasion, the mother took the child to the husband’s residence in accordance with the orders but the child refused to go inside. The father made an application for contravention, claiming that the mother contravened the Court orders by failing to give the father access to the child. The Court found that “an access order imposes an obligation which goes beyond mere passive non-interference and it imposes upon the party who is obliged to give access a positive obligation to encourage that access.” The Court found that the wife had not done all that was reasonable in the circumstances to encourage the child to come to the telephone and speak to the father but had, in effect, issued an invitation in a manner in which the child was given the option to refuse.

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