Family lawyers for divorce & relationship breakdown
Osborne Howell practices in all areas of family law, including when a de-facto relationship, same sex relationship or marriage breaks down. We have unrivaled experience and we are committed to staying up to date with the evolving nature of family law.
We understand that a breakdown of a relationship can be a highly emotional and stressful period of your life, especially if children are involved. We endeavor to minimise the pain and stress involved. We offer fixed fee arrangements for specific steps that are involved in resolving your Family Law issues.
A divorce is a stressful and difficult time for anyone. We understand that divorce can happen for a number of reasons and that it is important to note that whatever the reason we can assist you with your divorce.
In Australia a divorce can be applied for when parties have been separated for a minimum of 12 months. Where there are children a divorce can only be made when the Court is satisfied that arrangements have been made by the parties to adequately care for the children.
Where a couple has been married for less than two years the Courts will generally require a certificate to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
If parties cannot reach an agreement amicably then an application can be made to the Family Court (for complex matters) and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. An application to the Court can only be made when the parties have attended mediation and a section 60I certificate is issued. This certificate is required before commencing proceedings at Court. In some circumstances an urgent application may be made to the Court. Generally urgent matters occur:
- A party has relocated with the children and without consent of the other parent.
- A parent is not making the children available to the other parent.
- There are allegations of family violence or child abuse.
If you feel that your matter is urgent it is essential that you obtain legal advice as any delay can significantly impact your case.
The Court will also take into account an array of factors when making Orders regarding children such as:
- The age of the children.
- Special needs regarding the children.
- The distance between the parties’ respective homes.
- Any violence between the parties.
Ultimately when making a decision the Court will decide what is in the best interests of the child.
Each family is different and therefore each set of circumstances must be taken into account when making an application. At Osborne Howell we are able to provide a plain English approach that will meet your needs.
Parties have one year from the date of divorce (or two years from the date of separation for people in a defacto relationship) to commence an application to the Family Court for property matters.
The Court takes a four-step approach in determining how the distribution of your property will occur.
The first step is to identify and value the asset pool. We note that we have reviewed the Application for Consent Orders that was filed with the Court. This document records your assets, liabilities and financial resources. In identifying the assets and liabilities, it does not matter whether the property is in sole or joint names, or whether a party has disposed of an asset since separation. The entire asset pool of the parties is taken into account. If assets have been disposed of since separation, the Court can add these assets back to the property pool.
The second step is to identify the contributions, both financial and non-financial, that each of the parties have made to the acquisition and maintenance of those assets. The contributions can be divided into three main categories, namely:
- Financial Contributions – Direct financial contributions may comprise of assets owned by one of the parties at the commencement of the relationship, or income earned during the relationship. Financial contributions may also include inheritances and lump sums of money gifted to one or both of the parties during the relationship
- Non-Financial Contributions – These are considered to be contributions which add value to the asset pool but do not require any financial outlay. These can include things such as landscaping, gardening, renovating and assisting with the running of a family business, etc.
- Homemaker & Parent Contributions – These contributions can be described as the “cook, clean, wash” roles and are contributions made towards the welfare of the family. In most circumstances, these contributions are considered equivalent to the financial contributions made by the primary income earner.
The third step is to identify the future needs of each of you , taking into account the matters set out in section 90SF(2) of the Family Law Act 1975. Those factors include the age and health of the parties, whether a party has the primary care for a child or children and the respective earning capacities of the parties.
The fourth step requires the Court to make a determination as to the distribution of property on the basis that the overall result will be both just and equitable.