Family Law

Separating from your partner is tough, and juggling the emotional, practical, and legal aspects of a break-up is challenging. We can guide you through the legal issues involved in dividing your property and making parenting arrangements for your children, so you can make informed decisions and reach workable solutions. We can help with:

  • Divorce and separation including de facto relationships
  • Binding Financial Agreements
  • Consent orders
  • Parenting orders
  • Property settlement
  • Spousal maintenance

Who does family law apply to?

The Family Law Act 1975 governs matters concerning the care of children and the division of property after a relationship breakdown. It applies to marriages and de facto relationships.

A de facto relationship is defined by various factors including the length and nature of the relationship, financial dependence or interdependence, the care and support of children, or whether the relationship was registered under state law. In some cases, you may first need to prove that you were in a de facto relationship to access a remedy under the Family Law Act and our team can help you with that process.


An application for divorce can be made through the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia on the basis that your relationship has “irretrievably broken down” and you have been separated for at least 12 months. It is possible to be separated while still living under the same roof.

If you have children under the age of 18, the court will need to be satisfied that proper arrangements are in place for the care of those children. In most cases, you will not need to attend court for a divorce to be granted.

Property settlement

You do not need to have a divorce finalised before dividing your property. However, after a divorce has been granted there is a 12-month limitation period within which to bring court proceedings for property settlement or spousal maintenance. For de facto partners, any court proceedings for a property settlement must be commenced within two years of separating.

A property settlement involves separating your financial affairs from your former partner so that you can move forward with your respective financial lives. The process involves distributing property and financial resources, as well as any liabilities. In determining how the distribution will be made, the law does not only consider ownership or financial contributions but also takes into consideration non-financial contributions to a relationship, such as caring for children.

Most property settlements can be finalised through consent orders or, in some cases, a binding financial agreement, and without having to go to court.

Parenting arrangements

Parenting arrangements address issues such as where children live, how much time they spend with each parent, who will make decisions for the child, and other specific issues in relation to education or healthcare. Under family law legislation parenting arrangements must be made in the best interests of the child. There is a presumption that shared parental responsibility is best for the child, but this will not be the case in all situations. Shared parental responsibility means that parents are required to consult each other regarding long-term decisions for the child and does not necessarily mean that the child will spend equal time with each parent.

Parenting arrangements can be achieved through a parenting plan, consent orders or court proceedings.

Mediation and Family Dispute Resolution

In general, it is best if parties can come to an agreement between themselves and avoid litigation. Mediation is a suitable method for parties who hope to preserve their relationship, for example, if they seek to co-parent or work together in the future. It involves the parties meeting face to face with an impartial third party, who assists them to reach a solution. A mediator does not provide legal advice or determine the outcome of the dispute.

Family Dispute Resolution is a special kind of mediation for family law matters involving children. Apart from certain exceptions, attending Family Dispute Resolution is compulsory before commencing court proceedings for parenting matters.

Family law matters are complex and challenging. We recommend getting independent legal advice early, particularly when your decision-making might be impacted by emotions. Even when a separation is amicable, it is important to understand your rights and the long-term effects of the arrangements you agree to.

If you need assistance, contact [email protected] or call 02 9724 7188 for expert legal advice.