Separating is a difficult process for most people and it is often made more difficult because people do not always receive appropriate legal advice early on in the process. If you have recently separated you should speak to a family lawyer as soon as possible.
Separation is so much more than a legal matter and it is a good idea to consider seeking counselling or any support services which may be helpful during this transition period in your life.
The Federal Circuit Court and Family Court have many resources which may assist you and considering there is a large amount of information about family law available online, the Court’s resources should always be your first point of reference if you are looking for information online.
An Application for Divorce is separate to property and parenting matters and has the effect of legally ending a marriage. Once you have been separated for a minimum period of 12 months, either party can file a sole Application or you can file a joint Application for Divorce together. Often the date of separation is not initially clear because you may have remained living under the one roof for a period of time after you separated. Please visit the Family Court’s site for further information:
You can apply for a property settlement up until 12 months from the date of your Divorce Order for married couples or 2 years from the date of final separation for de facto couples. While this may seem like a lengthy period of time to sort things out it is always a good idea to obtain legal advice and start the process of finalising a property settlement close to separation.
You should consider whether you will need to obtain financial and/or tax advice about the division of your property pool. If you wish to retain a property and will need to refinance a mortgage you should contact your bank or broker and make enquiries about your capacity to refinance any mortgage.
Often parents find it difficult to negotiate and resolve parenting matters due to high levels of conflict. If you want to negotiate parenting arrangements you should take steps to arrange mediation and genuinely try to resolve the matter. If you are able to reach an agreement with the other parent you can file an Application for Consent Orders with the Court to formalise your arrangements.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with the other parent you may want to commence Court proceedings. Before commencing proceedings for parenting matters you should read this fact sheet from the Court and consider the impact that parent conflict will have on your child/children.
You can either have your own arrangements for child support or either parent can apply to the Department of Human Services for an assessment. If you are considering entering into a Binding Child Support Agreement you should seek legal advice to find out more.
Child support and parenting matters are entirely separate from each other. Therefore, being up to date with your child support liabilities does not affect what contact your child should have with you or alternatively that if you are behind with your payments you cannot spend time with your child.
After you have separated you should review your Will and obtain legal advice about updating your Will. If you have never made a Will before it is a good opportunity to seek advice about making your first Will.
If you need help understanding your rights after a separation, get in touch with our family law team in Cairns.