Frequently Asked Questions
What is family law?
Family law covers a range of legal issues involving marriage, de facto relationships and children, and can be applied at any time during the relationship – at the start, during the relationship and in the event of separation. Family law issues could include living arrangements for children, visitation with grandparents or anyone else connected to the care of a child; financial support from one member of the couple to another; financial support to children; and the cessation of a marriage. The family law system is designed to encourage people to settle their problems out of court, where possible, through negotiations and discussions with specialist lawyers.
What types of family law issues do you cover?
Our family lawyers work with clients on various aspects of family law, including divorce, separation and annulment, child custody and parenting arrangements, child support and child visitation, along with financial and property disputes, spousal maintenance and financial support. We also assist with paternity, adoption, guardianship, child abduction, state child protection and domestic violence. Hiring a family law solicitor from AJB Stevens means you are putting your trust in someone who is trained to deal with a range of matters to provide you with the best possible outcome.
Do I need a Family Lawyer?
Family law can be quite contentious, while court processes and legal provisions regarding any family law matter can be extremely confusing. Consulting with a lawyer well versed in family law will help you understand your rights and can help to protect your interests. In the event of a divorce, even if you agree on the matters of settlement and custody, it’s important you have this documentation in writing – and preferably witnessed. A Sydney family lawyer can help formalise parenting plans, financial agreements, child support agreements, and any court orders. If you cannot agree outside court, a family lawyer will ensure you have the best representation possible.
When should I consult with a Family Law Lawyer?
The family law system can be daunting which is why we’ve provided these family law FAQs to assist in the process. When it comes to family law matters, the earlier you consult with a reputable family law lawyer the better. Before any decision is made regarding your marriage, property or children, it’s imperative that you understand your rights. Before any agreements or orders are signed, you need to protect your interests. If you are experiencing family and divorce issues, a special lawyer can ensure you understand the relevant aspects of the Family Law Act 1975 and how it impacts your current and future arrangements.
What does a Family Law Lawyer do for me?
At AJB Stevens, our family law lawyers provide many services. This includes the organisation and appraisal of various assets (of both parties), as well as the formalisation of agreements and to ensure they are enforceable. We also help to prepare court documents, supervise and direct mediations, organise and record official documents, attend trials and court proceedings, and much more. Our specialist lawyers are on hand to respond to your needs when required and we’ll keep you updated on the progress of your case through regular contact. If you want to know more, we’re happy to discuss your needs and our role in your case in more detail via a consultation.
When Can I file for Divorce?
Divorce can be very emotional and is often painful. If you have been married for less than two years, you are unable to apply for divorce unless you have special leave from the court. This would apply only to special circumstances. In Australia, you also need to show that you have lived apart for at least 12 months. These laws are strict, however, exceptions can be made depending on individual circumstances. If you want to apply for divorce, or you need legal advice, AJB Stevens are renowned divorce lawyers in Sydney. Our leading family law firm has experienced lawyers in Sydney who can help to make the process as smooth as possible.
What if I am in a De Facto Relationship?
If you have been in de facto relationships and living with your partner for two years, you have the same rights as a married couple. Separation disputes over property or children in de facto relationships work the same as married couples. If you are experiencing a separation and believe you have entitlements to property, financial support, child custody or child support, seek legal advice. Legal mediation and dispute resolution may be required if you’re unable to agree on any factors of your relationship and separation. If you require assistance with de facto separation, AJB Stevens family lawyers Sydney are accredited specialists available to assist..
What are my parental responsibilities?
If a child is under the age of 18 years, parents that separate are still required to share the parental responsibilities of that child. This means that each parent shares the decision-making regarding significant long-term issues with the child. That includes a range of parenting issues, including major health decisions, religious observation, and schooling. These duel parenting orders apply except where a court has decided that it is in the best interest of the child that one, or both parents should have their parental responsibility removed.
Parental responsibility applies regardless of the parent’s relationship status, whether they were married, in a de facto relationship or otherwise. Note: Equal shared parental responsibility is not the same as equal custody.
How is access (child custody) established?
If possible, couples should ideally come to an arrangement together to determine child custody. This generally includes who will have custody and when, and may also include options for weekends and school holidays. If the couple can mutually agree on this, family court will generally honour this agreement. Family courts aim to make the process easier for all people involved in the application for divorce. In cases where the parents cannot agree on child custody arrangements and visitation, the family court will issue a plan that is based on the “best interest of the child”. This will be determined by each parent’s ability to provide for the child, their occupation and education, the health of the parents, and in some cases, the child’s preference will be taken into account to determine the best option for separation parenting. If you need advice, AJB Stevens are specialist family lawyers.
Do I have a right to have access to my child?
In the event of a divorce in Australia and according to Australian family law, a child has a right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. More importantly, the child has a right to be protected from harm and it is the role of a family court to determine this factor. It’s important to note here that the Family Law Act 1975 does not determine child custody arrangements based on gender. It could be either the father or mother who receives custody. When making a decision about parental access in a marriage separation, the family court will determine the “best interests of the child”.
What is the difference between child support and spousal support?
When it comes to parenting arrangements and finance, there are two types of support: child support and spousal support. A child support agreement refers to a series of payments ordered by the court to be paid by the noncustodial parent to the individual charged with primary care and responsibility for the child. These child support payments are intended to cover items such as food, shelter, and clothing, education expenses, and health or medical care.
On the other hand, spousal support or spousal maintenance refers to recurring payments made from one spouse to another during a separation or after the divorce is finalised. Spousal maintenance recognises the recipient’s contribution to the marriage. It provides assistance from the former spouse so the recipient can achieve financial independence post-marriage.
How much spousal support am I entitled to?
Under the Family Law Act 1975, a partner in a relationship is required to pay support to the other partner if that person is unable to support themselves based on their personal income or assets. The amount of spousal support you could receive varies depending on a number of factors. The longer you have been married or de facto, the more support you are likely to receive. Other considerations include the functions performed by both partners during the relationship, your financial dependence on your spouse, and your ability for self-sufficiency. The assistance of specialist lawyers in divorce law will ensure you are receiving everything you are entitled to.
Do I need a family lawyer for property/financial matters?
Yes. If you and your former partner do not have a pre nuptial agreement and cannot agree on property settlement and finance matters, a family lawyer can help you to resolve the matter through a family dispute resolution. Even if you agree on all property law and financial matters, a family lawyer can assess the combined assets and liabilities of each party to ensure you are both getting what you are entitled to. At AJB Stevens, our specialists can provide you with the knowledge you need for a successful financial agreement. This includes full disclosure through your spouse’s legal representatives, along with assessing the matrimonial pool and contributions to be considered.
What is the process when you engage AJB Stevens?
As expert family lawyers Sydney, AJB Stevens are specialists in the area of family law. We are able to assist in family and divorce law. When you enlist our services, we help make your separation as pain-free as possible. We understand separation is a stressful time and it needs to be dealt with sensitively. Our separation and divorce lawyers will work with you to obtain all the information we require to build a solid case that provides you with the best possible outcome. Our goal is to protect your interests while helping to mediate the situation. Ultimately we want to resolve your case out of court, however, if this is not possible, we will stand with you through the family law proceedings in a court of law.
What costs can I expect?
The cost varies. Some family law issues can be complex, and others may be simple. Hiring a divorce lawyer from a reputable law firm in Sydney will ensure you are taken care of. Factors that affect cost could include the nature of the work that needs to be completed, instructions provided to the family lawyer, whether the divorce is agreed on by both parties, assets and debts that are part of any settlement, as well as the age of your children. If the case goes to court, you may also be faced with extra costs. Our specialist team will discuss these with you upon meeting. If you’d like to find out more, contact our offices today so we can further discuss your case.
Do you only handle family law cases?
No. At AJB Stevens, we provide a range of legal services, including commercial litigation and workers compensation, contested wills, motor vehicle accidents, mesh implant litigation, refugee and child sexual assault compensation, and medical negligence. If you require a specialist lawyer to assist you in any of these areas, we’re here to help. Simply give us a call or send us a message and one of our team will be in touch. We provide personalised and professional services that are designed to protect your rights. Our accredited partners have more than 70 years’ combined professional experience and we offer a No Win, No Fee compensation representation (terms apply). Contact us today.