The Initial Attendance
What will occur at an initial attendance?
Our initial attendance is a chance for us to find out more about your situation and how we might address your current concerns. The breakdown of a personal/family relationship is a difficult time and, accordingly, we take a more holistic approach to what you need to know in order to move forward in a positive way. We are more than happy for you to drive our discussion. Ultimately we are here to answer your questions in the most simple and appropriate way.
What will we talk about in an initial attendance?
At your initial attendance we are likely to discuss:
- Background information about your relationship and the circumstances around your separation.
- Your children and the arrangements in place for their care, if relevant.
- Any pressing concerns you may have in relation to urgent financial or parenting issues.
- Potential threats or concerns for your personal safety, or the safety of your child and children.
- Concerns you may have about obstacles to the amicable or easy resolution of future financial and parenting arrangements.
We offer a reduced initial attendance fee which can be confirmed by our friendly reception staff. Where possible, we will reserve at least 90 minutes in which to discuss your matter and we can, of course, arrange a follow-up attendance should extra time be required to discuss introductory matters.
What will my obligation be?
Following an initial attendance, a number of our clients will not require our assistance again, simply because they are now in a position to effectively negotiate themselves with their former partner. In the event that you do require our continued assistance, we will discuss our approach to client care with you at our first attendance.
Do I need a lawyer to get divorced?
While we don’t necessarily like doing ourselves out of work, you can make your own application for a divorce. However, we recognise that some clients prefer to have a solicitor draft the application.
How long does it take to be granted a divorce?
To qualify for divorce in Australia, parties must satisfy the Court that there is no reasonable likelihood of resuming married life. To do so, parties must have lived separately for at least 12 months. Further requirements also exist for newly married couples seeking divorce.
Do I have to go to Court to get divorced?
The Court plays a role in all divorces, but depending on your circumstances the level of involvement may vary significantly.
If you are making an application for divorce and the parties to the marriage have no children under the age of 18, you do not have to attend the Court hearing. Or if you are making a joint application for divorce, and the parties to the marriage have a child or children under the age of 18, you do not have to attend the hearing.
If you are making a sole application for divorce and you have a child or children under the age of 18, you must attend the hearing. The other party is only required to attend if they have lodged a Response to Divorce and seek to oppose the application.
A divorce hearing will not deal with property settlement or with child custody issues. Those issues will be dealt with separately.
Do I have to pay any child support if I do not see my children?
A person has a financial obligation to provide for their child or children, regardless of the amount of time spent with them.
Who can seek an order in relation to the time that a child spends with them?
Parenting orders are orders made by the Court that set out care arrangements for a child. Parenting orders are normally applied for by a child’s parents; however any person concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child may apply.
Will property be divided in a 50/50 split?
There is no set formula for the Court to use when determining a property settlement. Property settlement splits are determined on a case-by-case basis with consideration given to a series of complex considerations.
Do I have to go to Court to finalise a property settlement?
If an agreement is reached and encapsulated in a Binding Financial Agreement or Application for Consent Order then no attendance at Court is required.
If no agreement can be reached, you will be required to make application to the Court.
Does a de facto relationship only occur if we both declare we are in one?
A de facto relationship for the purposes of the Family Law Act requires that both parties live together in a relationship on a genuine domestic basis. Parties are not required to “declare” their relationship as de facto for it to be so.
Are family law proceedings public?
Courts are not only places that must do justice, but they must also be seen by the public to do justice, and do so independently. To this end, almost all proceedings before a Court in Australia are open to the public. Family law proceedings are held in open Court unless the Court orders otherwise. However, it is considered an offence to disseminate to the public the specific names of parties involved in family law proceedings.
Judgements are published on the Family Law Court’s website, as well as on free public databases such as AustLII and paid databases. Judgments are anonymised, which involves the removal of all identifying information.
Are family law proceedings heard by a judge and a jury?
Family law proceedings are heard before a judge and a judge alone. There are no jury trials in the family law Court system.
Do I also need taxation and financial advice?
Your family lawyer is not in the best position to advise you in relation to complex issues of taxation and financial planning. Best Wilson Buckley works closely with accountants and financial planners to ensure the best possible combination of legal and financial advice.