Family and Relationship Law FAQs

Commonly-asked questions about the legal aspects of family and relationship law in Australia.

What is involved in a first client conference and what do I need to bring with me?

Our initial conference will last approximately one hour. We will discuss the background of your relationship and provide you with advice on how the law applies to your circumstances. If your matter involves financial issues, we will provide you with an estimated range of your potential entitlements, based on the instructions you provide in the meeting. If you have children with your former partner, we will discuss how the court determines parenting arrangements and what an appropriate parenting regime may look like for your family.

What options are available to resolve my matter without going to Court?

Most of our clients will have their matters resolved outside of court. The most common way of reaching a negotiated outcome with your former partner is by way of mediation. There are a number of advantages of mediation, which avoids the costs and stress of court proceedings and allows the parties to have some control over the outcome. A third-party mediator facilitates discussions between the parties and their legal representatives over the course of the day and if an agreement is reached, it can be formalised by consent orders which becoming binding following approval from the court.

How will you work with other advisers such as accountants and financial planners throughout this process?

A lot of the information held by your accountant will be relevant to your family law matter, so with your written approval, we can connect with your financial team to obtain information relevant to your personal or corporate finances. We also have a close network of financial services professionals to whom we regularly refer our clients, particularly if they require advice following a financial settlement. Our extensive network enables us to connect our clients to a financial planner who is appropriately suited to their circumstances.

What is the difference between a divorce and a property settlement?

A property settlement formalises the division of a couple's assets and liabilities. This can be set out in court orders or a financial agreement. A divorce order marks the official dissolution of a couple's marriage.

How do I apply for a divorce?

We can file an application for divorce on your behalf. We offer a fixed pricing solution for this service which may be a more affordable option for you. There are important time considerations in relation to filing an application for divorce that we will discuss with you.

How much time will my child spend with me?

There are a number of considerations taken into account when determining appropriate care arrangements for children, whereby the children's best interests are the paramount consideration. The two primary considerations in determining the best interests of a child are the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with each of their parents and the need to protect the child from physical or emotional harm. Additionally, the legislation in Australia sets out several further considerations that must be addressed when determining parenting arrangements. Each family is different and the relevant factors for one family and their children may be different to another. Please contact us to obtain advice that is relevant to your personal circumstances.

How long will it take for me to reach a settlement?

This depends if your matter resolves by consent or if court proceedings are issued.

If you can negotiate an agreement with your former partner outside of court, it can be documented in orders and filed with the court. This is usually faster than issuing court proceedings. You can also formalise a settlement in a binding financial agreement, which we can draft on your behalf.

The court aims to resolve all litigated matters within 12 months of their filing date, however the timeframe can be longer than this, particularly for complex matters.

What will this cost?

Costs in family law matters can be influenced by a number of factors, including the complexity of the issues in dispute and the attitude of the parties to engage in meaningful negotiations to resolve their matter.

When we meet with you, and after hearing about the issues in your case, we will provide you with an estimate of our anticipated legal costs and the options available to you to resolve your matter. We also offer a fixed-fee for certain legal services, which may be more appropriate for your particular matter.

What is a benefit of using Lander & Rogers for my family law case?

As the largest family law team in Australia, and with the support of our wider commercial firm, Lander & Rogers can provide specialised family law advice, whilst also drawing on the expertise of colleagues in different states and areas of law.

Do I have to go to court to resolve my matter?

There are several ways to resolve family law matters without the need for litigation, including direct negotiations with your partner, lawyer-assisted negotiations and private mediation. A combination of these approaches may be utilised depending on the circumstances of the case.

I don't know what assets or liabilities my partner has. Can you help me?

Yes. Your former partner has an ongoing duty to provide full and frank financial disclosure with respect to their financial situation until such time as your property matter is resolved. In the event that your former partner is not forthcoming with respect to their financial situation, the Family Court and Federal Circuit of Australia has a wide range of powers to enforce the disclosure. If you have concerns about disclosure or the movement of assets, please do not delay in contacting us for assistance.

Can I engage you if I already have legal representation?

Yes. We can arrange for your file to be transferred from your current lawyers and take the necessary steps to enable you to formally retain us. We will also need to consider any future court dates and/or deadlines and outstanding fees (if any) owed to your current legal representatives.

Can you appear for me at my hearing, conciliation conference or mediation?

Whether we consider it the best approach to appear for you directly or brief a barrister with respect to any hearing, conciliation conference or mediation, will depend on the complexity of your matter, the type of court event, as well as your individual needs and preference.

I want to protect my assets from a future relationship breakdown. How can I do that?

Under Australian law, the only means of protecting your assets from a potential legal claim by an ex-partner is by entering into a binding financial agreement (BFA), also known as a "pre-nup". A BFA determines from the outset how your respective assets will be divided, in the unfortunate event of a relationship breakdown, instead of a Court determining the division of assets.

Each party to a BFA needs to get independent legal advice. It is important to start this process as early as possible, so each party can properly consider their position and their lawyer's advice regarding the agreement.

I haven't separated yet, but I am thinking about it. Do I need to be separated before I get legal advice?

You don't need to be separated before you get advice. Many people find it useful to understand what their options might be, if they do decide to make the decision to separate. We are happy to speak to clients about their situation before they have made a final decision about separation.

Who will be on my legal team?

As the largest family law team in Australia, our resources mean that we can match each client with appropriately experienced lawyers based on the complexity of the matter, the financial position of the client, and the level of expertise your matter will require. Often, we arrange for a senior and junior lawyer, together with their legal assistants, to work with you. This provides you with multiple contact points at the firm and provides a cost effective offering, with the work divided between the lawyers appropriately.

What is a binding financial agreement?

Binding financial agreements are available to married couples as well as those in a de facto relationship, and can be made before or during a relationship, or after separation. Binding financial agreements provide certainty about how your property will be divided following separation, allowing you to save considerable money in legal fees and time, with no need to pursue litigation in the court at the end of the relationship.

Binding financial agreements are highly technical, detailed documents and, to be binding, must be drafted in accordance with Australia’s strict legal framework. We can help you determine whether a financial agreement is right for your circumstances, as well as record and document the most appropriate terms of the agreement.

What can I expect from my lawyer?

We support our clients through every step of a separation and dispute resolution. We have a trusted network of psychologists, counsellors, tax professionals, financial advisers and valuers so our clients always have the best team to support them through the process.