Advice about separation

Separation is seldom easy. It can be very stressful. We get that.

But separation is an important legal event, both in marriage and de facto relationships.

Seeking advice early is key to establishing expectations of a fair and reasonable outcome.  There may be strategies that we can advise you about, or approaches that you might not have considered.  

Whether you are contemplating separation or have already separated, we can give you the advice you need about the many and varied legal issues that can arise.

Divorce

Divorce is the process which dissolves a marriage.  

It is a separate legal process from dividing finances and property and making spend-time arrangements for your children.

We can provide you with cost-effective assistance and advice in preparing a divorce application. 

Financial matters

Contrary to popular belief, there is no set 50/50 rule when it comes to dividing property.  There are many factors to be considered when determining the reasonable range of entitlements.

Whether your finances are simple or complex, we can: 

  • outline the range of dispute resolution options available to you;
  • advise you on what factors the court takes into consideration when deciding a financial dispute, such as property settlement or maintenance;
  • give you creative solutions to resolve your property dispute;
  • help you to prioritise your financial matter, so that you may achieve an appropriate financial settlement quickly and cost-effectively;
  • if advice is required from other professionals, refer you to a trusted network of appropriately qualified professionals, such as accountants, valuers or psychologists; and 
  • represent you at court, at conferences, and/or at a mediation or negotiations.

If you have agreed the division of your property with your former partner, we can prepare the relevant documentation for filing at the court.

Parenting matters

There is no set rule as to how much time a child should spend with each parent, following separation.  

Parenting arrangements involve a careful consideration of a range of factors in determining what is in the child’s best interests and of your individual circumstances.  

We can provide you advice about:

  • the factors to take in account when determining the children’s best interests;
  • the practicality of any parenting agreement you have reached;
  • how to protect your child from harm, if he or she has been exposed to any such harm or may be at risk of being exposed to harm;
  • what the court takes into account when making orders relating to children;
  • your right to seek a parenting order if you are a grandparent, or some other relative or third party who may be concerned with the care, welfare or development of a child; and
  • child support arrangements.  

We can also assist you in preparing the relevant documentation for filing at the court, if you have already reached an agreement.

If an agreement cannot be reached, or would not be appropriate in the circumstances, we have the skills and expertise to represent you in court.

Child support

If you are separated and have children, you may be entitled to receive child support or liable to pay child support. We can advise you about your rights or obligations in respect of child support.

Australia’s child support assessment system is administered by the Department of Human Services. Many people use a child support assessment to determine the level of child support that is payable. Other options include making informal arrangements or using child support agreements.  

A child support agreement can provide each party with certainty and can include provisions for:

  • periodic or lump-sum payments;
  • school fees;
  • incidental school expenses like electronic devices, uniforms, excursion costs, tutoring, stationery and books;
  • extra-curricular activities; and
  • health insurance.

If you are after advice about child support, or how a child support agreement might benefit you, please call us.  

Mediation and family dispute resolution

Mediation is a process by which a neutral third party, a mediator, helps you and your partner to reach an agreement.

A mediator facilitates communication and assists the parties to identify their needs and interests, to enable the parties to come to their own agreement.

A mediation is voluntary and, unlike court, does not involve anybody imposing a solution on the parties. Unless all parties agree, a mediated dispute remains unresolved.

Mediation gives parties control over how their dispute is dealt with and over the outcome. 

Rob Crossing and Vincent Tan are both accredited as mediators by the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators (“AIFLAM”) Further information about AIFLAM can be found here.

Vincent Tan is also a registered family dispute resolution practitioner and can issue s60I certificates and conduct family dispute resolution (“FDR”) for child-related matters. A s60I certificate is usually required before commencing proceedings in the court.  You can find further information about FDR here or by calling us. 

Collaborative practice

Collaborative dispute resolution is a process by which parties, their lawyers and other appropriately qualified professionals work together to reach an agreed solution without going to court or threatening to do so. The process is almost always quicker, less expensive and less stressful than going through the courts.

Parties involved in a collaboration can have access to range of experts who can assist in the process. The process includes using a jointly-appointed “financial neutral”, usually a collaboratively-trained financial planner or accountant, to crunch the numbers, identify financial issues and help to generate solutions. A collaborative matter also benefits from the involvement of a jointly-appointed coach or psychologist, to provide valuable input help with the resolution of financial and parenting matters.

Rob Crossing and Vincent Tan are both trained in collaborative practice. Rob is a founding member of Collaborative Professionals WA. 

You can find more information about collaborative dispute resolution can be found here or by calling us.

Arbitration 

Arbitration is similar to court in that the arbitrator acts like a judge and makes a binding decision. 

An arbitrator is not a judge but a lawyer who has completed the requisite arbitration training.

Arbitration is limited to financial matters such as property settlement, spousal maintenance and disputes about financial agreements. It cannot deal with parenting arrangements. 

Rob Crossing is an accredited arbitrator.

Financial agreements 

People who are in a relationship, or who are contemplating a relationship can now enter written agreements about financial issues arising from their relationships. Such an agreement can oust the court’s jurisdiction to the extent specified in the agreement.

Although there is no need for registration or approval of the agreement by the court, both parties must obtain independent legal advice before it is signed and must obtain a certificate from a lawyer confirming that the advice has been given, if it is to be binding.

Financial agreements can only be altered by making a new agreement or terminated by making a written agreement known as a “termination agreement”.

Financial agreements might be used:

  • in respect of subsequent marriages or de facto relationships;
  • to quarantine specific assets; or
  • to avoid the possibility of a financial decision being imposed by the courts.

We are able to prepare financial agreements and/or provide you with the necessary legal advice about such agreements.