Whilst clients are looking for quality work in a timely and cost-effective manner, a truly valuable lawyer is one that carefully listens to your needs and provides support and guidance. This couldn’t be more true than when it comes to family law.
Not only can family breakdown be a stressful and emotionally draining time, it can easily become a complicated legal web for families to have to navigate. At Keir Steele Waldon Lawyers, we strive to minimise unnecessary stress. Our family lawyers take the time to understand your individual situation to secure outcomes that are in the best interests of you and your family.
Separation and Divorce
To be granted a Divorce Order in Australia there must be an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage with no reasonable likelihood of resuming the relationship. This can be satisfied if the spouses have lived separately and apart for at least 12 months.
Applications for a Divorce can either be made jointly by both parties, or by one party on their own. To apply for a Divorce, at least one spouse must:
- regard Australia as their home and intend to live in Australia indefinitely; or
- be an Australian citizen by birth or descent or by grant of Australian citizenship; or
- ordinarily live in Australia and have done so for 12 months before filing for divorce.
There must be appropriate arrangements in place for any children of the marriage before a Divorce Order will be granted.
You may commence negotiations or property settlement proceedings before you apply for a divorce. Note, once you have been granted a divorce, you must commence property settlement proceedings within one year.
A divorce order will legally dissolve your marriage, but it will not finalise matters of your marriage such as the living arrangements for your children and child support, the division of your marital property, or spousal maintenance.
Division of Matrimonial Property
If you are going through a separation or divorce it’s important to consider separating your property and finances. You should seek legal advice as to what rights and entitlement you will have in a property settlement.
Property Settlement is a complex area of law. At Keir Steele Waldon Lawyers, our family lawyers can help you with how your assets, liabilities and financial resources can be divided between you and your former partner.
Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), the term ‘property’ encompasses all assets owned by both parties from cash, cars and real estate to family businesses and shares in companies, superannuation, trusts, redundancy payments, overseas assets, and more.
There is so much to consider and even if you and your former spouse have agreed to have each of you keep all assets and liabilities currently in your respective possessions, you should engage a family lawyer to formalise the settlement and avoid any future claims.
If you are going through a separation or divorce, it’s important to consider parenting arrangements for your children.
The paramount consideration is what is in the best interest of the children and the children’s right to have the benefit of both of their parents having a meaningful involvement in their lives.
It is beneficial for everyone involved when parents can work towards their own agreement for the future living and parenting arrangements for their children. However, this is not always an option and you may need legal advice to do this.
When parents can reach an agreement outside of court, that agreement in writing and signed is recorded as a Parenting Plan, or the parenting agreement can be documented formally as an Application for Consent Orders and filed with the Family Court of Australia for the Court to make a parenting order by consent.
When parents cannot reach agreement, an application to the court is filed for the court to make a Parenting Order.
A party to a marriage or a de facto relationship may be eligible to receive Spousal Maintenance from their former partner. This liability extends equally to husbands and wives and continues after the marriage has ended.
The liability is however affected by the actual circumstances of the parties. A party to a marriage is only liable to maintain the other to the extent that the first party is reasonably able to do so, and if, and only if, the other party is unable to support themselves adequately. The reasons are:
- having the care and control of a child of the marriage who is not yet age 18; or
- age or physical or mental incapacity for appropriate gainful employment; or
- any other adequate reason.
If one party applies to the Court for spousal maintenance, the Court can only take into account certain prescribed matters when deciding whether and how maintenance should be paid. Those matters are listed in Section 75(2) of the Family Law Act, a copy of which we have enclosed for your reference.
Unlike child support, spousal maintenance does not have a specific formula to calculate how much, if any, a person is liable to pay.
There are many factors to consider and each case will be different. It is therefore important you seek legal advice if you believe you may be eligible to receive or liable to pay spousal maintenance.
Services Australia use a basic eight step formula to calculate how much child support is payable by one parent to the other. The amount is worked out considering the parent’s income and combined income, how much parenting time you have with your child and the child’s age. The parent’s cost percentage is worked out using a care and cost table. The amount of your child support assessment can change each year if there are changes to your income and/or care arrangements.
Assessments for the payment of child support may be changed in special circumstances which may include one parent having responsibility for certain costs such as school fees and other education expenses, or other extra-curricular/sporting costs.
Parents can privately negotiate the child support payable by one parent. This agreement can be formalised as a Binding Child Support Agreement. Both parents must obtain independent legal advice. Where the agreement is properly formalised, a Binding Child Support Agreement is legally binding on the parties and its terms can be enforced.
Alternatively, you may require legal advice and assistance because you are not be satisfied with the Assessment of child support you have received.
It is important to seek legal advice in relation to your child support matters to ensure that the best outcome is achieved for you and your children.
Altruistic Surrogacy is becoming more and more common in Queensland since it became available in 2010. Provided there is a relevant medical or social need, Altruistic Surrogacy is an available to heterosexual and same sex couples.
Commercial Surrogacy is not legal in Australia, and consequently, the surrogate mother is not to receive any form of payment or benefit from the intended parents. Surrogacy Arrangements in Queensland are not enforceable.
Whilst unenforceable, the Surrogacy Arrangement is an essential part of the process and will set out the parties’ intentions and responsibilities both before and after the birth and during the pregnancy. It will include that immediately after the baby is born, care will be given to the intended parents and the birth parents will consent to the making of a parentage order.
Surrogacy in Queensland is heavily legislated with strict requirements to be abided by throughout the journey. You must under the Surrogacy Act seek independent legal advice before making a surrogacy arrangement, so you understand the implications of such an arrangement and are aware of what your rights and obligations would be.
It is important to note, the intended parents and birth parents must not share the same lawyer.