Family Law & Divorce

Choosing the right family lawyer is an important decision. At a time when you are likely to be experiencing high levels of stress and uncertainty, you must feel confident in your lawyer’s ability to effectively manage your case.

 

A good family lawyer is an excellent communicator; someone who listens and is not afraid to give you clear advice about the prospects of your matter.

 

In addition, family law is complex, so you will need a lawyer who is willing to take the time to guide you throughout the process.

 

Steiner Legal is a practice that adheres to the Family Law Best Practice Guidelines and is committed to providing the highest level of representation to each and every one of its clients. We are able to assist you with matters that are disputed, or if they are agreed.

Parenting Matters & Child Custody

What is a Parenting Order?

A Parenting Order is an order that the court makes under the Family Law Act 1975 about who your children will spend time or lives with, including how much time they spend with each parent. Parenting Orders can also be made about parental responsibility such as who has the responsibility to make long term decisions for your children, such as religion, schooling, or where your child should live.
Parenting Orders can be made by consent, meaning you and your partner agree on the Orders, or they can be made by the Court following contested parenting proceedings.

 

Once a Parenting Order is made it becomes binding, and final, until your child turns 18 years old.

 

Parenting Orders can also be made in favour of someone who is not a parent of the Child.

How do I apply for a Parenting Order?

There are strict procedures that must be followed prior to applying for Parenting Orders. One of those procedures is that you must engage in dispute resolution, such as mediation, before filing your case.
You are required to obtain a certificate concerning the outcome of the mediation if you are unable to reach an agreement at mediation. The certificate must be issued by a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. There are some exceptions that apply such as cases involving domestic violence and child abuse.
If your case is not complex you can apply for parenting orders in the Federal Circuit Court. In more complex matters you can apply for parenting orders in the Family Court. There are different procedural rules that apply in each court.
The solicitors at Steiner Legal have experience in both courts and are well equipped to assist you through the court process.

How long will it take to obtain Parenting Orders?

Contested parenting matters take many months, and more often, years before a final hearing occurs and final Orders are made.

At Steiner Legal we are acutely aware of the delay in obtaining Parenting Orders through the Court, and therefore make every effort to reach an agreement with the other party before proceedings are commenced, and during the process of your court proceedings.

Whilst you wait for your final hearing, you can also apply to the Court for interim orders. Interim orders are orders that will apply in between the time they are made and the final hearing. Most often, interim orders are made to ensure that a child spends time with both of their parents, and that one parent does not withhold their child from the other parent. The Court is clear that it is in a child’s best interests to have a relationship, and therefore contact, with both of their parents, provided there are no issues of risk.

In some cases the Court can also make orders on an urgent basis. If you believe your case is urgent please contact Steiner Legal without delay. Our contact page provides an emergency after hours service for urgent family law matters.

How much will it cost to get Parenting Orders?

Contested family law parenting matters are very expensive. A barrister will need to be instructed for your hearing and their fees alone can be several thousand dollars per day of the hearing.

A solicitor must disclose their fees to you when you engage them to represent you. In Family Law matters there are legislated guidelines that also require solicitors to advise clients about their fees at different stages of the process.

In most cases the other party will not be ordered to pay your costs if your case is successful. In Family Law matters each party is generally expected to pay their own legal fees. There are limited exceptions that apply but you should never rely on those exceptions to determine whether or not to proceed with your case.

How long does a Parenting Order remain valid?

A Parenting Order remains valid until the youngest child in the order turns 18 years of age. Once each child turns 18 then the orders that applied to that child are no longer binding.

If you apply for orders when your child is very young you must ensure that they are thoroughly drafted to take into account different stages of the child’s life.

Arrangements for schooling, school holidays, special occasions, travel and the like all need to be addressed.

 

At Steiner Legal we ensure that your parenting orders are individually tailored to your specific family circumstances and your wishes with regard to your child’s future.

Can I change an existing Parenting Order?

Yes, you can change an existing Parenting Order, however you must be able to prove that there has been a significant change of circumstances that make the change necessary, and that it is in your child’s best interests to make the change.

Some of the circumstances that might justify a change include:

  • A parent wanting to relocate to another state or country
  • A parent becoming seriously ill and being unable to care for the child
  • The death of a parent
  • A parents relapse or recovery from drug or alcohol addiction
  • A parent putting a child at risk unneccesarily

 

Applications to change Parenting Orders are very complex. At Steiner Legal we recommend you contact us for legal advice before making any application

Marriage, Separation & Divorce

What is separation?

Separation is the point at which you and/or your spouse decide that you will no longer be in a relationship. You must be separated from your husband or wife for twelve months before you can get divorced.

What if my partner doesn’t agree that we should separate and get divorced?

Your partner does not have to agree to separate but you need to make it clear to your partner that you are separated and no longer in a relationship. A failure to properly communicate to your partner that you are separated can have significant consequences in relation to divorce (if you are married) and your property settlement.

Practical Tip: We recommend that you notify your partner in writing via email so that you can keep a record of your communication. Remember, the email might be used in evidence so think carefully about what you say.

Can I be separated but remain living with my ex?

Yes, married and de facto couples can remain living together after separation. However, you should be careful to ensure there is a clear separation of co-dependency, such as closing joint bank accounts, paying for your own expences, doing your own washing and household chores such as cooking, socialising separately and living in separate bedrooms.

If you have separated from your partner, but have been living under the same roof, you may need to provide proof of your separation when you apply for a divorce or property orders in the Family Court. We recommend you seek legal advice from Steiner Legal before you apply for a divorce or property orders, especially if you have been separated but living under the same roof.

When can I get a divorce?

You must be separated for 12 months before you can apply to the Court for a divorce. This is the only thing you need to prove to the Court in order for them to grant your divorce.

 

If you have been married for less than 2 years you will need to attend counselling and attach confirmation that you attended counselling before the Court will consider your divorce application.

How do I get a divorce?

If both parties to a marriage agree to get divorced, then the process is straightforward. You can download the Application for Divorce paperwork on the Family Court website, and complete the application together. It is important to fill out the forms correctly or the Court will not process your application. At Steiner Legal, we can help you apply for a divorce for a low cost.

What if my ex-partner won’t agree to get divorced?

You can make an application for divorce without the consent of your spouse. Once you file your application it will need to be formally served on your ex. They will then have the opportunity to file a response outlining the reasons why they do not agree to the divorce, if they wish to oppose the application.

The court will then set down a hearing date for you to attend to explain why the divorce should be granted, or not. In Australia, we have ‘no-fault divorce,’ which means that on most occasions, provided you have been separated for 12 months or longer, the divorce will be granted.

We recommend that you seek legal advice from us if you want to apply for a divorce and your partner won’t agree, or if you wish to oppose your partner’s divorce application. We will be able to assist you by giving you advice about the prospects of your case. We can also represent you throughout the process.

How soon will my divorce take effect after it is granted?

Your divorce will take effect one month and one day after it is granted by the Court.

If you get married before your divorce has fully taken effect, your new marriage may be void.

Can I start the process of my property settlement before I am divorced?

Yes, you can. You do not need to wait until you are divorced to start the process of dividing your joint assets, such as your bank accounts, following separation.
In fact, we recommend that you begin the property settlement process as soon as possible. You only have 12 months from the date of your divorce to seek property orders in the Family Court. Or, if you were in a de facto relationship, you only have 2 years from the date of separation to make your application for Property Orders in the Family Court.

De Facto Relationships

Property Settlements

Spousal Maintenance

Child Support

Child Abduction – Hague Convention

Family Dispute Resolution & Mediation

Adoption

Financial Agreements

Father and son

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Steiner Legal does not charge a fee for the first half an hour of your initial consultation in Family Law matters. Following your initial consultation, a fixed range of fees may be provided in some matters.

 

Useful Links – Family Law

 

Family Court of Australia

Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Relationships Australia

Family Relationships Online

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