Evidence is information that the court looks at in understanding and ultimately determining a matter. In a family law matter there a number of different pieces of evidence that the court will look to: Affidavits: Affidavits by you and possibly supporting witnesses. Affidavits are sworn written statements of fact. Affidavits are used to support your wishes as to what Orders the court can make. Your solicitor will help you draft your and any supporting affidavits. Your affidavit must comply with court evidence rules. Anytime you submit evidence to the court there are important considerations to take into account regarding your matter from both a strategic and practical perspective. Therefore it is very important to talk to a solicitor before submitting anything to the court. Valuations: Valuations of any property, businesses, chattels and superannuation may be required from the court. The court has special rules about who can value assets and the process…

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If you have received an inheritance prior to separation then it will generally be included in the asset pool as the court looks at the assets at the time the matter comes before the court. There are of course exceptions to this, for example if you have received your inheritance in the form of a testamentary trust you may be able to exclude this from the asset pool. If you are would like to protect your inheritance or are worried about the effect it may have on your property settlement you should contact one of our family law solicitors to discuss the options available to you.

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Generally if you and your former partner are involved in a family law dispute you will both be required to pay your own legal costs. However this is not a blanket rule and in some cases you may be able to apply to the court for one party to pay the legal costs of the other party (known as party-party costs). You can talk to your solicitor about options involving costs.

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A conciliation conference is type of dispute resolution meeting where you and your former partner will try and reach agreement on financial issues. A Registrar of the court will conduct the conciliation conference. A conciliation conference can be a very productive step toward reaching a settlement agreement. Whilst the Registrar cannot force you and your former partner to come to an agreement, we encourage our clients to take advantage of the opportunity to attend a conciliation conference and to keep an open and positive mindset towards reaching an agreement. Prior to the conciliation conference the court will order you to produce and file certain documents including a financial statement and the normal duty of disclosure applies. At the conference the Registrar will give an outline of the conciliation conference process and identify the different parties’ issues within the dispute. The Registrar may also give an indication of the result that…

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If a child is removed, detained or concealed from one parent by the other parent than this may constitute parental abduction. An abduction can occur whether or not the parents have separated and can involve other family members aside from just the parents. Children can be abducted within Australia and internationally. If your children have been abducted and you have concerns for their safety, you should in the first instance contact the police and then seek legal advice from a specialist family lawyer. If you believe that your partner or former partner may act to abduct your children you should contact a solicitor straight away to discuss your options. Your solicitor can help you apply to the court to seek protection over your children and if necessary seek a recovery order. If your child has been abducted or someone is threatening to abduct them this can be a very stressful…

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If you are the subject of family court orders and you think that you or your former partner may have breached those orders, you should contact one of our solicitors to discuss your options. The law on contravention is complicated and it is always best to seek legal advice before acting on or after a contravention; that way you can gain a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities. A contravention can constitute a variety of acts in Family law proceedings including if a party does not attempt to comply with the orders, or purposely breaches an order without a reasonable excuse. If a contravention of the Orders has occurred there are different ways that this contravention can be addressed, depending on the severity of the breach and the relationship and situation of the parties. If the other party in your matter has made a contravention, filing a contravention application…

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Whilst our lawyers are experts at Family Law we don’t pretend that we are also experts in other fields such as psychology or financial planning. Expert witnesses are professionals who are experts in their given field. Experts can be called on in Family Law proceedings to report on a particular part of the dispute for example property valuations, medical conditions or complex superannuation matters. Experts are valuable resources in the family law world; whether the court orders a psychologist to give evidence at your hearing or you are in the middle of collaboration and we suggest getting a superannuation consultant in, an expert can put a new perspective on your dispute and often help both parties come to an agreement on certain areas of the dispute. Usually you and the other partner can chose the expert to be used in your matter.  Experts can be used to provide written reports…

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The collaborative law process is a form of alternate dispute resolution which puts you in control of your family law matter. Collaboration is a great option if you believe that you and your partner are able to cooperate and negotiate on amicable terms during your family law dispute. Collaborative law is not about confrontation, rather it is about you and your former partner problem solving with the assistance of your lawyers to come to an agreement and understanding. During collaboration you will partake in ongoing correspondence and a series of meetings with your former partner. During these negotiations you, with the help of your solicitors, will identify what is important to both parties, what questions you need to answer regarding the separation, identify and evaluate the options available to you and finally negotiate your way to an agreement. If for some reason you do not reach an agreement, you and your…

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Mediation is a dispute resolution process where a mediator (an independent third party specially trained in helping two parties reach an agreement) facilitates communication between you and your former partner in the hope of reaching an agreement. During a family law mediation you and your former partner and your legal representation will discuss both parties’ wishes and try to come to an agreement that suits both parties and any children involved. Depending on the type of mediation, you can discuss all aspects of your dispute in a mediation including property settlement and arrangements for the children as well as other issues which you might not normally bring up in court, for example who gets to keep the cat, the children’s time with their friends or the baby’s feeding and sleeping routines. Unlike a Judge or Registrar at Court, the mediator is not able to impose a decision on you or…

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FDR stands for Family Dispute Resolution. Section 10F of the Family Law Act gives a basic definition of FDR to be a non-judicial process where an FDR practitioner assists separated couples to resolve some or all of their disputes. An FDR practitioner is independent of all parties involved in the matter. If you or your former partner have applied for a legal aid grant to go to Court, Legal Aid may ask you to attend an FDR conference first. The FDR practitioner must first consider whether your matter can be appropriately dealt with through FDR. Things that will be considered include whether or not there is a history of family violence, the safety of each party, psychological and physical health of each party, the history or risk of child abuse. There are certain confidentiality and disclosure requirements involved in the FDR process. An FDR conference can help you and your…

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Within the family law system there is a duty to disclose all relevant information relevant to your matter to all the involved parties and the court. When you begin a family law matter regarding property, whether this is outside or inside the court room, you and your former partner will exchange disclosure documents. In a property matter these documents can include documents such as bank statements, superannuation statement, payment summaries, phone bills and payslips. The duty of disclosure runs right from the get go of your matter all the way up until settlement. This means that you have a duty to disclosure any new relevant information or documents as your circumstances change throughout the timeline of your dispute. It is important that you follow this duty to disclosure and provide the other party in your matter with all relevant information. The court has published a brochure about disclosure which you…

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Pets are such an important part of our lives and often an even bigger part of the family. When your relationship breaks down, working out who keeps the pets can be almost as complicated and emotional as working out parenting arrangements. But not everyone is a pet person, so if pets are a big part of your life it is important to get a family lawyer who loves pets as much as you do. Here at FGD we have pets at the office on a regular basis and we love having a giggle at a baby animal video or four! Under Australian law, pets are considered property and in the eyes of the law are comparable to the car or fridge. That’s why you need a lawyer who thinks of your furry friend as much more than just the lawn mower. The court has discussed pets in numerous cases, more…

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Whilst Australia is yet to recognise same sex marriage, the Family Law Act’s definition of De Facto couples includes same sex couples. Can I got to Court? As long as you and your partner fit the requirements of a de facto relationship you can apply to the court for a property settlement. The law is almost exactly the same for de facto couples as it for married couples. Out of Court? At FGD we are passionate about out of court options to settle your family law dispute. If you were in a same sex relationship; negotiation, collaboration and mediation are all options which are open to you and your former partner. As a same sex couple you can also enter into Binding Financial Agreements (colloquially known as a prenup). What if we got married overseas? If you are in a same sex relationship and you are and your partner were…

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The Family Law Act specifies time limits in which you or your former partner can make an application to the court. Applying for a Divorce In order to apply for a divorce you must have been separated for at least 12 months. If however you have been married for less than two years the court requires that you attend counselling and receive a Certificate before you apply for divorce. If you are Divorced If you are divorced you must file an application for a property settlement within 12 months of the date that your divorce was finalised (you can find this date on your divorce order). If you are not yet legally divorced than the clock for property settlement has not started ticking and you can apply for a property settlement at any time. If you take longer than the 12 months to apply for a property settlement you will…

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Moving away can be a stressful and exhausting process at the best of times, let alone when you are in the middle of family law dispute or already have parenting orders in place. Whether you are considering moving away for work or personal reasons, our lawyers can help you make the relocation process as easy and as smooth as possible. If you do already have a parenting arrangement and/or Court Orders in place, you should not move away without first seeking legal advice, otherwise you may risk escalating your family law matter or contravening Court Orders. There are many avenues to explore when reaching an agreement with your former partner about relocation, these include negotiation, mediation, collaboration and an/or application to the court. At FGD we are very passionate about collaborative law and we are always happy to talk to you about how this out of court option could work…

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In the legal world ‘child custody’ is a fairly outdated term, but it is a term that continues to be strongly used by the public. But let’s not get too caught up in semantics. Child Custody or parenting arrangements refer to a child’s living arrangements. This includes who the child ‘lives with’ and who the child ‘spends time’ with. Terms which you may be familiar with include ‘residence’, ‘contact’ and ‘custody.’ In family law matters there is rarely a winner or loser. Instead your solicitors and the court are most interested in coming to an arrangement which focusses on the best interests of your child. The Family Law Act emphasises the importance of children to have meaningful relationships with both parents whilst also making sure that they are safe and protected from any harm. It is a common for people to think that there are set formulas or care arrangements…

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In many Australian families, grandparents play a very important role in the family unit and can sometimes be a significant care giver to their grandchildren. If you are a grandparent and you do not believe that the rights of your grandchildren are being properly exercised, and you have been involved in the care, welfare and development of your grandchildren, then you may be able to file an application for orders at court. Family law recognises the importance of the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren and how this relationship can foster a child’s welfare and development. The Family Law Act also recognises the rights of both biological and non-biological people who are important in children’s lives. If you believe it is in the best interests of your grandchildren to have access or have more access to you (their grandparent) or you would like to apply for custody of your grandchildren…

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Under the Family Law Act each parent has ‘parental responsibility’ for their children unless a court order states otherwise. Parental responsibility involves responsibility regarding your children’s long term welfare, care and development. Where your child goes to school, what religion they adhere to and whether they should undergo certain medical treatment are decisions that are covered by parental responsibility. If you and your former partner cannot come to an agreement over an issue of parental responsibility your solicitor will be able to help you begin the negotiation process and hopefully reach an agreement. If you are still unable to come to an agreement after alternate dispute resolution you can apply to the court to make a decision regarding the particular issue in contention or to decide whether both parents should maintain parental responsibility.

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A parental alliance is a pact between parents that although they are separated, they will work together so that the sum of their parenting and care will be greater than the two, separated, parts. The alliance works so that each parent enhances the other parent’s strengths, and helps smooth off any rough edges. A parental alliance is not easy to achieve and requires hard work and dedication by the parents, and skill by those who assist them. However hard, the benefits for children in establishing a parental alliance cannot be underestimated.

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The Family Law Act specifies what the court must consider when making arrangements for children in a family law dispute. The court must at all times focus on what is in the best interests of the children. One of the issues the court will consider is who has and who should have parental responsibility for the children. Unless changed by a court order both parents usually share parental responsibility for their children. Parental responsibility refers making major decisions about your child’s welfare and development, for example where they go to school, their religion and any major medical treatment they may need. The court will then decide the best care arrangements for the children, including how much time each child should spend with the parents and what responsibilities are attached to that care. Sometimes people refer to this as child custody. The court does not have a set rule or formula…

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When you and your former partner separate your superannuation is an important part of your property settlement and the state of your future finances. The percentage split of your superannuation will depend on a number of circumstances including the total of your current superannuation, your ability to work during and after the relationship and your future needs. This means that if you have been the sole carer of your children during the relationship and as such unable to work full time and accumulate superannuation, you will not be left without any superannuation heading into your future retirement. If you and your former partner can reach an agreement about your superannuation outside of court your solicitors can help you formalise this agreement. If you are unable to meet an agreement through alternate dispute resolution than your solicitor will help you make an application the court. If the superannuation fund that you…

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The ability for de facto couples to make an application for a property settlement under the Family Law Act came into effect on 1 March 2009. Before this de facto couples had to apply to State or Territory courts with their claim for property settlements. This was problematic in many ways and the Family Law Act amendments were very welcome and significant changes. Whether the Family Law Act applies to you: Do you meet the definition of De facto relationship under 4AA of Family Law Act? You can read the definition section of the Act on the Federal Register of Legislation website: s4AA FLA Keep in mind that none of these considerations are more important than any other and this list is NOT exhaustive. Importantly same sex couples can be considered to be in de facto relationships. Usually your solicitor will be able to tell you whether or not you…

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If you cannot agree, the court is able to make orders relating to the distribution of your property after a relationship breakdown. Whilst every matter is different and some property settlements are more complicated than others, the Family Law Act provides a basic framework which determines how every case should be decided. Keep in mind that there is no set formula to determine your property settlement. The court will make an order after it has heard all evidence regarding your matter and your solicitor will communicate your needs and wishes to the court. The court will then make a decision of what it believes is a just and equitable decision. In family law, property involves all items of value relating to your relationship. All assets, liabilities and resources owned, shared and disposed of following separation by you and your former partner will be considered. When you put in a property…

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