The breakdown of any relationship is a difficult time. Separation takes time and needs to be handled carefully.
Our role is to help you to do this. There are many different factors to be considered in a separation including the care of any children, financial matters and maintaining a workable relationship with your ex-partner. Priest Legal can advise you on your legal position and rights, while remaining sensitive to the emotional turmoil that is an inevitable part of any separation.
Separating where there are children involved is particularly traumatic. Parents should try to agree on a parenting plan or parenting orders for their children when they separate. Focussing on the needs and interests of your children will not only minimise the impact of separation on them, it will also ensure that your costs are lessened. The two primary considerations of benefit to the child are:
- Having a meaningful relationship with both parents
- The need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm arising from abuse, neglect or family violence.
Do I have to pay child support for my children or maintenance for my spouse?
Both parents are responsible for the financial support of their children until each child reaches the age of 18 or until completion of the school year in which the child turns 18. Child support can be paid as the parents agree, or it can be assessed by the Child Support Agency, which uses formulas it has developed for the purpose. The Child Support laws are complex. You should contact the Child Support Agency in the first instance and have a look at their website. If you have come to an agreement regarding the payment of child support that does not conform with the terms of the Act, you may enter into a Binding Child Support Agreement. Priest Legal can advise you in relation a binding agreement.
Divorce is the Certificate which is granted to you to formally terminate your marriage. You must obtain a Divorce Certificate if you wish to remarry. The only ground for divorce is irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. To obtain a divorce after marriage has irretrievably broken down, you and your spouse must have lived separately for at least one year. Either spouse can apply to the Federal Magistrates Court for a divorce. If there are children of the marriage that are under the age of 18 years, the Court may not grant the divorce until it is satisfied that there are proper arrangements for the children.
Dividing up property on separation
Property of the relationship or marriage can be divided up by agreement and then formalised by Consent Orders or a binding Financial Agreement. Complex rules apply to the division of superannuation and property and it is generally in each party's interest to obtain legal advice with respect to a fair property settlement. It is important that there is full and frank disclosure of all the assets and liabilities of the parties when entering into a property settlement or when making an application to the Court.
You can enter into a financial agreement before the commencement of a relationship or marriage, during the relationship or marriage or on termination of the relationship or marriage. For a financial agreement to be binding each party must be separately advised by a lawyer as to the effect of the Agreement on the rights of the party under the Family Law Act and the advantages and disadvantages to the party of entering into the Agreement at the time the it is entered into.