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How a Divorce Lawyer can assist when you have been married for less than two years but seek a divorce

A divorce lawyer will be unable to lodge your application for divorce orders if you have been married for less than two years unless you satisfy the counselling requirement. Parties married for less than two years must provide a counselling certificate with their divorce application in order for it to be considered by the Court.

What is a counselling certificate?

A counselling certificate must be signed by an approved counsellor. This certificate sets out that the parties with the counsellor’s help have considered reconciliation without success.

Exceptions to the counselling requirement

The requirement for a counselling certificate can be waived if the Court is satisfied that special circumstances exist that warrant the divorce application to continue regardless.

It is not clear what scenarios will fall into the category of special circumstances affording dispensation. In the case of Nuell and Nuewll (1976), Justice Fogarty held that it was enough that both parties were not interested in attempting counselling. Contrastingly, in other cases such as Philippe and Philippe (1978) and Malyszko and Malyszko (1979), the Judges have held that special circumstances are facts that are peculiar and depart from the norm.

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Domestic Violence and Family Law Lawyers

There is a great deal of focus both by the media and by Courts on domestic violence issues for families and the law.

The Federal Government announced significant funding in the first half of 2017 to provide support, assistance and guidance to both victims of domestic violence and partners where an issue of domestic violence has been raised in the proceedings.

The purpose of the funding is to ensure that all parties have access to both support and education where appropriate in order to reduce the impact on families of domestic violence.

The program acknowledges that victims of violence can be both partners, therefore a program which is confined to women only would not serve the community at large to meet these concerns.

It is also important to provide support and resources to any spouse where the allegations have been made as against them.  The Court does recognise and have regard to any litigants who might have had a problem in the past but are addressing those concerns in an educative process to assist and allay concerns as to domestic violence.

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Reaching parenting agreements with family law lawyers out of court

In addition to family dispute resolution (FDR), there are a variety of alternate ways that arrangements for parenting matters can be made with family law lawyers and without the court’s involvement in the decision making.

Lawyer Negotiation

Where parties are unable to or unwilling to negotiate with one another, negotiation can take place between their family law lawyers. This form of dispute resolution usually commences with an exchange of client instructions outlining each party’s view and an offer. A more formal version of lawyer negotiation that  often occurs after a correspondence exchange is a ‘four-way conference’. This is where both parties and their respective lawyers meet and attempt to reach a resolution. If agreement is reached, it can therefore be formally documented with the assistance of the family law lawyers through an application for consent orders or a parenting plan.

Parenting Plans

A parenting plan is an agreement made after separation concerning how children will be cared for. Parenting plans allow parties to benefit from making their own decisions about what best suits everyone. Most of all, this approach is often more beneficial for children as it avoids some of the conflict associated with going to court. However, in some situations where parties have significant difficulty communicating and co-operating to make a workable plan, Court involvement may be the only option.

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