I am applying for a divorce, does this automatically deal with my children and property settlement?
No, it does not. A divorce, parenting and property settlement are all different.

A divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage by a Court. You cannot apply for a divorce until you have been separated for over 12 months. When you marry, you get a Marriage Certificate. When you Divorce, you get a Divorce Order.

The granting of a divorce does not decide issues relating to parenting arrangements, property and maintenance. You will need to deal with your children, property and maintenance separately.

Do I have to wait to be divorced to seek a property settlement?
No, you are not required to wait to obtain a Divorce Order before seeking a property settlement. You can make arrangements with your spouse or make an application to the Court regarding property and finances immediately upon separation and before you are divorced.
Do we have to be divorced before Orders can be made about the children?
No, a Court can make Orders regarding the welfare of the children even if you are not divorced.
Is there a time limit for applications for property adjustment?
If you were married, applications for property adjustment must be made within 12 months of your divorce becoming final.

If you were in a de facto relationship, applications for property adjustment must be made within 2 years of the breakdown of your de facto relationship.

If you do not apply within these time limits, you will be out of time and will need special permission of a Court. This is not always granted.

I have separated from my partner, what do I do now?
We help all sorts of people in all sorts of situations and we can help you too.

Whether the decision was yours or your partner's, you are still likely to experience a rollercoaster of emotions. It is common to feel a sense of shock or numbness, or feel anxious about the future and overwhelmed by the number of decisions that you are required to make.

Often there will be a turmoil of emotions that accompany the ending of any relationship and unfortunately, it can easily feel overwhelming. This is a time when you need to get the support and advice of other people (see Useful Links).

You and your partner are able to come to an agreement as to what will happen to the children and how the property will be split between you.

As soon as an agreement has been reached you should both seek independent legal advice. This will make the process of separation much easier and quicker.

Contact Family Law Practice Australia to find out whether the agreed split is fair and reasonable and whether a Court would approve the agreed distribution of the assets and liabilities.

If you are not in agreement, contact us to find out your rights and the best way to progress your matter.

Do I have to pay child support even if I am not spending time with my children?
Yes, even if you do not spend any time with your children you are still responsible to provide for them financially. You can use the Child Support Calculator to estimate your child support payments.
I brought a lot of assets into our relationship which were in my sole name. Are they mine if we separate? Can my partner claim on them?
Yes, in most cases how the assets are held (solely or in joint names) is irrelevant. He/she may be entitled to a share of those assets, unless a valid Binding Financial Agreement was entered into.

Timing is taken into consideration. Where the relationship is short the partner who brought the assets into the relationship usually receives a larger percentage division. Where assets have been received later in the relationship (such as an inheritance) the person who brought in that asset may receive a proportionately larger division.

Each matter is determined on a case by case basis.

We have reached our own agreement on property and parenting issues, which we drew up ourselves and had witnessed by a Justice of the Peace. Is that good enough?
Short answer - no it is not good enough.

In family law matters, any agreement reached which is not documented by way of either Consent Orders or by way of Binding Financial Agreement (applies to property settlements only), is not legally binding.

Your former partner could seek a further property settlement, or may decide that he/she does not wish to follow the agreement you reached with regards to your children. Do not leave yourself open to further unnecessary stress.

Get it right from the outset by seeking legal advice when documenting any agreement reached. This is a common trap that people fall into, mainly because they do not seek legal advice.

My children who live with me are constantly telling me that they do not wish to see their mother/father. Do I have to force them to go?
If there are no parenting Court Orders in place, whilst you are not legally bound to send your children to the other parent, it might be to both yours and your children’s detriment in the long term if you do not send them. That is because the Court frowns on parents who do not foster a relationship between parent and children, which could result in your losing primary care of your children.

If there are parenting Court Orders in place providing that the children must see their mother/father at certain specific times, then you must abide by those Court Orders. You must not breach a Court Order.

The exception is where the child would be exposed to an unacceptable risk of harm whether physically and/or emotionally if he/she was to spend time with that other parent.

The other parent has taken the children and is refusing to return them. What should I do?
If you do not have a Court Order that the children live with and/or spend time with you, you need to apply to the Court for such an Order, as well as a Recovery Order.

If you have a Court Order that the children live with you and/or spend time with you and the children have been taken or not returned, you need to apply to the Court for a Recovery Order.

These Court Orders allow the Police to find and return your children to you.

Do Grandparents have rights?
Grandparents do have rights to make an application for time with their grandchildren. However, if they would like to spend time with their grandchildren and the parents of the children do not agree, grandparents must invite the children's parents to participate in mediation before making an application to the Court.

The Family Law Act 1975 allows the Court to make orders for a child to spend time with people other than the child's parents and this category of people includes grandparents. In fact grandparents are specifically referred to in the legislation as people who may apply for orders to spend time with children or to have children live with them.