Family Law and Divorce
Perth Family and Divorce Lawyers
West Perth Legal’s family law solicitors can provide assistance for a range of matters relating to family law and de facto relationships, including:
- Marriage, De Facto and Divorce Law
- Prenuptial agreements (prenups)
- Divorce in Australia including preparing and serving divorce papers
- Legal separation issues
- Annulment of marriages
- Spousal maintenance
- Property settlements
- Binding Financial Agreements
- Domestic and family violence and apprehended violence orders (AVOs)
- Family Mediation
- Legal representation at Family Court
- Children’s issues
- Child support and enforcement of payments
- Parenting plans for child custody and visitation
- Parental rights, father’s rights and grandparent’s rights
- Guardianship of children
- Children’s Court
Contact us to arrange a consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers.
Divorce in Australia
In Australia, there is no need to provide any reasons for divorce other than that the relationship has broken down irretrievably. If you’ve been separated for more than 12 months the court takes this as evidence of the fact, and even if you still live under the same roof you can still obtain a divorce provided you swear to the separation in your divorce application.
You will need your marriage certificate, identification, and proof of citizenship (if you were not born in Australia).
The court needs to be satisfied that your children are being taken care of before a divorce will be granted but will not expect that you have a formal agreement in place in regard to child custody.
You may be able to reach agreement with your ex-partner without having to go to Court. However, bear in mind that if you can’t reach agreement, a formal application for property orders must be lodged within 12 months of your divorce becoming final.
When you lodge your application the court will advise the date of the hearing, usually within 2 - 3 months. The hearing is not long and you may not need to attend. The divorce order becomes final in one month and one day from the date of the hearing, provided it is granted.
Child Custody Law
Australian law focuses on the rights of children to have an ongoing relationship with both parents so that separating from your partner or spouse doesn’t mean that you are separating from your child or children.
Although the terms ‘custody’, ‘residence’, ‘contact’ and ‘access’ are no longer used much by lawyers today, the issues behind the jargon are still on the top of the list of concerns for separating couples, namely:
- Who will the child or children live with?
- How will they spend time with the other parent?
- How will both parents be kept in the loop in regard to important decisions such as education and health?
Joint Custody and Shared Responsibility
Joint custody or shared responsibility means that both parents have legal rights and responsibilities towards the child. It doesn’t mean that the child will spend half of their time with one parent and half with the other, but that each parent has an equal say in decisions relating to the child in areas such as health and education. Even if the child lives with the other parent you may still have joint custody.
But doesn’t the law now say that children have to spend equal time with each parent? No, it doesn’t. The law ensures that the best interests of the children are served first. When considering what is in the children’s best interests, the court has to consider facilitating a meaningful relationship between the children and both of their parents and also to protect the child from harm.
If the court is to provide equal shared responsibility then it will also consider whether equal time is in the best interests of the children and whether it’s practical. Rather than equal time, for example, the court may order substantial and significant time be spent with the other parent, which might translate to be 4 nights per fortnight rather than 7.
Firstly, get legal advice. Your lawyer will take you through all of the areas which need to be considered and document what you think is a fair approach to arrangements for your children. If your partner is agreeable, your lawyer can help you formalise the document without proceeding to costly court action.
If your differences are unable to be settled, then you will need to commence on the path to having parenting orders issued by the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court.
Recent changes to the Family Law Act 1975 mean that you will need to attend family dispute resolution before applying for parenting orders. The accredited family dispute resolution practitioner will issue a certificate which must be filed with the court application and simply states that your differences were unable to be resolved.
If your case does end up in court, a legally binding decision will be made through a hearing where the judge will decide what is in the child’s best interests.
As lawyers experienced in this process we can advise you in regard to the complexities of your specific situation as well as guide you through what can be a stressful and confusing process. We can help take the heat out of a difficult emotional situation and negotiate on your behalf to obtain the best possible result for your children. And if it comes to court, we are deeply familiar with the court system and can use our experience to your advantage. Contact us to discuss your specific situation in regard to your children.