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Family Law

Family Law

The breakdown of a relationship can be an emotional and stressful time for all parties. You are most likely unaware of your rights and obligations in regard to financial, property or parenting matters. Nor are you likely to be aware of the processes involved in resolving these issues.

The solicitors at Cameron Legal have extensive experience in all areas of Family Law. We can assist in the resolution of all family law matters, providing you with the understanding, professionalism and objective advice you require during this difficult time.

Financial Agreements

Despite the best of intentions, it is a stark reality of modern life that some relationships will break down. The law recognises this and allows for parties to agree on the future division of assets in written agreements. These agreements essentially allow the parties to contract out of some aspects of family law legislation. The parties can agree on division of property, finances, superannuation entitlements, and spousal maintenance requirements.

Financial agreements can be implemented either before, during or after a relationship. They can be made between de facto partners or married spouses, but will only be legally binding if signed by both parties with each party receiving independent legal advice. If a financial agreement is legally binding the parties are prevented from obtaining court orders in regard to property matters when the relationship breaks down.

As with contracts of any sort, a binding financial agreement can be set aside by the court. There are specific provisions within the Family Law Act 1975 which outline the circumstances in which this can occur. Importantly, an inherent unfairness of the agreement is not grounds for it to be set aside. This is primarily due to the fact that parties must obtain independent legal advice before entering into the contract.

The solicitors at Cameron Legal have a wealth of experience in drafting and advising on financial agreements. Contact us today to arrange an appointment to discuss your matter.

Separation & Divorce

Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage. In Australia legislation allows for “no-fault” divorces which mean that either party can petition the court for a divorce without proving any wrong doing by either their spouse or themselves.

The court is not concerned with the reasons why a marriage has ended. In order to obtain a divorce, you need only to satisfy the court that you and your spouse have been separated for a period of at least 12 months, and that there is no likelihood of reconciliation. Separation can be proved in a number of ways, and can occur when the parties remain living under the same roof.

An application for divorce can be brought by either spouse individually, or a joint application can be made. If there are children of the marriage who are under 18 years of age when the application for divorce comes before the court it will be necessary to show that proper provisions have been made for the care of the children before a divorce will be granted.

The team at Cameron Legal can assist you in preparing or responding to your family law matters by:

  • Ensuring you are fully informed of your rights and obligations
  • Drafting and filing your application with the court
  • Drafting and filing your response with the court
  • Appear with you at each court appearance
  • Assist in drafting all related agreements including consent orders for parenting arrangements and property settlements

If you need assistance with a divorce or related matter, please contact us today.

Property Settlements

The stress and emotion involved in the breakdown of a relationship can make it difficult for parties to agree about the division of assets and liabilities that have been amassed throughout the relationship.

No two property settlements are the same. Each situation has its own factual circumstances which need to be taken into account when determining the appropriate division of assets.

The court has acknowledged that certain factors should be taken into account when determining the appropriate division of assets. These include:

  • Assets brought into the relationship by each party
  • The length of the relationship
  • The financial and non financial contributions of each party
  • Any indirect financial contributions of either party
  • The future needs of each party taking into account factors such as age, health, earning capacity and care of children

The solicitors at Cameron Legal will assess your individual circumstances to determine a fair and reasonable division of your assets. They will work hard to ensure that a fair settlement is negotiated, and if this is not possible, act on your behalf in court proceedings.

Parenting Agreements and Orders

In the aftermath of a relationship break down it is important for children to maintain a meaningful connection with both parents. How this is manifested will depend on your individual circumstances and the needs of your children.

Decisions about the care of your children are often highly emotionally charged, which can result in difficulties in reaching agreement. The solicitors at Cameron Legal can assist you reaching an acceptable parenting agreement that works for both parties, and your children.

It is necessary for you and your former partner to determine where your children will live and how and when they will spend time and communicate with the other parent. This can be done by a negotiated agreement, or if that is not possible, by a court order.

A Parenting Agreement or Parenting Plan is an informal written agreement struck between the parents. These types of agreements are negotiated between the parents but they are not legally enforceable.

It is possible to turn an informal parenting plan into a legally enforceable agreement by filing the agreement with the Court as Consent orders. This means that the court will review and approve the content of the agreement. Once “approved” by the court, the Consent orders operate as a formal, legally binding agreement which helps to ensure that each parent is required to uphold the obligations that are agreed to.

Despite the best attempts by each parent, there are some situations in which a parenting agreement cannot be negotiated. In these cases it is necessary for the Court to step in and determine the manner in which care for the children will be shared between the parents. The court will not hear parenting applications until the parties have made a genuine attempt to resolve parenting disputes.

In determining the parenting orders the Court is obliged to have regard to a number of issues, including the best interest of the children, the views expressed by the children, the relationship between the children and each parent, and any other relevant factor. In some situations the court will appoint an Independent Children’s Lawyer to represent the children’s interest.

Our experienced solicitors can provide you with advice on parenting issues and assist in the preparation of any court proceedings.

Child Support

Parents have legislatively defined rights and obligations for the financial support of their children. The rate of child support that is paid or received by a parent is calculated according to a number of factors. These include the taxable income or earning capacity of each parent and the percentage of care provided by each parent.

The majority of people will have a Child Support Agency (CSA) assessment to determine the amount they are required to pay. It is necessary to have registered with CSA to be eligible to claim Family Tax Benefit A & B.

In some circumstances the parents will come to a private arrangement in regard to the amount of child support that the parent without primary care of the children will pay.

If there is a dispute about the rate of child support payable under a CSA assessment, you can lodge an objection and request a review.

Our solicitors can explain your child support rights and responsibilities to you, and assist you in rectifying an unjust or incorrect assessment.

For further information about the CSA and the ways that you can collect your child support payments visit www.csa.gov.au.

Spousal Maintenance

Orders or agreements for spousal maintenance are distinct from child support payments which are made for the benefit of the children. Spousal maintenance is the provision of ongoing financial support to a former spouse.

Unlike the entitlement to child support, spousal maintenance payments are not automatic. There is a statutory duty to provide this support after separation or divorce only in circumstances where one spouse cannot meet their adequate needs and the other spouse has the capacity to pay.

There is a distinction between a person’s actual income and their capacity to pay support. The concentration on the capacity of a former spouse ensures that any attempt to avoid support payments by purposely reducing is income is often futile.

Parties can agree to the inclusion of spousal maintenance as part of a negotiated property settlement. Agreement can be made in the form of a lump sum adjustment or by regular payments for a period of time. There are certain circumstances which will bring an entitlement to spousal maintenance to an end. These include the completion of training or education, obtaining employment or the commencement of a new de facto relationship.

The court will only make formal orders in this regard after the parties have engaged in genuine attempts to reach agreement. In making an order for spousal maintenance the amount payable will depend on the individual factual circumstances of the matter, with consideration given to what would be required to maintain a reasonable standard of living. This standard does not necessarily equate to the standard enjoyed prior to the relationship break down, but it is a factor to be given some weight.