What is Family Law?
The Family Law Act 1975 is the primary law on matters involving family relationships like divorce, property settlement, spousal or partner maintenance, child custody, parenting arrangements and adoption to name a few.
The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia are the courts which exercise jurisdiction under the Family Law Act.
Australia’s Family Law system encourages agreements to be reached outside of the courts. This may include mediation, collaborative practice, conciliation or arbitration.
Benefits of Hiring a Family Law Solicitor
When dealing with the courts, it can pay to be represented by a strong and professional legal team, and having them specialise in family law provides you with confidence that you are getting the right advice. Highly experienced family law solicitors are more likely to achieve a successful resolution.
Family law solicitors are trained to act in an objective and impartial manner, which can prove beneficial when working to resolve matters of a highly personal nature.
They are familiar with the processes of the court, meaning they are more equipped to deal with any paperwork required or forms to be completed. They are experienced in working with other lawyers and able to engage with them effectively and efficiently during negotiations and throughout the court process..
Your lawyer can act as a kind of filter, either appearing or speaking on your behalf, particularly in cases with a hostile party, where there is high levels of conflict or when the person has suffered some form of abuse.
Common Reasons to Hire Family Law Solicitors
There are many reasons why a person may seek out the services of a family lawyer. Some of these include but are not limited to:
Divorce – lawyers can assist in organising all necessary paperwork, and deal with serving the other party if your application is not a joint application. They will also appear at the divorce hearing itself and ensure a final divorce order is granted.
Child custody – suitable arrangements for the care of children after the breakdown of a marriage must be in place before a divorce is granted by the courts. Hiring a family lawyer can save you time and money and offer experience to find an agreeable outcome as soon after separation as is possible.
Property Settlement – lawyers can assist in the negotiation of asset division and also represent you in property proceedings during divorce settlements. Lawyers can either negotiate or litigate your property matter on your behalf.
The first time you meet your family law solicitor, to help save you time and money you can prepare some preliminary documents and information to bring with you, such as:
- A list of events in chronological order.
- A list of questions you may want to ask.
- A support person that can help to keep you calm, focused and who you can call on later to help recall the meeting and ensure you understood the discussion.
- For matters relating to division of assets a list of all assets and liabilities is important
- Any prior court orders, ADVO or APVO’s or Parenting Plans
The Family Law system can often seem overwhelming, this list is a useful step in breaking down some of the terminology you may encounter when entering the family court system, as sourced from the Family Court Government.
Adjourn – to postpone or reschedule a court event to another time.
Affidavit – a written statement by a witness or person(s). Generally, the main way of providing facts of a case to the court. Must be signed by an authorised person such as a Justice of the Peace or a lawyer.
Case Law – also known as precedents, refers to any previous judgments or decisions made by judicial officers regarding the same topic.
Consent Order – an agreement between multiple parties that once approved, becomes a court order.
Contravention – when a party or person has not complied with a court order, or has breached the rules of the order.
Enforcement Order – an order made by a court which a party or person must abide by.
Family Consultant – a specialist in child and family issues which arise following divorce and separation. For example a social worker or psychologist.
Family Dispute Resolution – a process of a family dispute resolution practitioner works to assist parties to resolve disputes following divorce and or separation.
Family Law Registry – a public area at Family Court and Federal Circuit Court where people can freely access information about the court and court processes. Also where parties file case related documents.
Family Report – an assessment written by a family consultant about a certain family. Family Reports are written to assist courts with cases about children.
Family Violence – violent or threatening behaviour by a person which endeavours to control or coerce a member of that person’s family and/or causes fear.
Final Order – an order a court makes to close a case.
Interim Order – an order a court makes temporarily until a final order can be made.
Judicial Officer – a person appointed to hear and determine a case. For example, a judge.
Party or Parties – an individual or legal entity, involved in court cases. For example, the applicant or the respondent.
Subpoena – a document which has been requested by a party and issued by a court, which requires a person to give evidence or documents to the court.
Ask your family lawyer to explain any other jargon you are not sure of, it’s important you understand what is going on in court.
When it comes to dealing with legal issues such as divorce, property settlement, child custody and parenting arrangements amongst others, hiring a specialist family law lawyer or solicitor will give you expert third-party advice during what are often extremely personal and aggrieved situations.
If it’s your first time dealing with the family court system then family law solicitors often help you with organisation and processing of paperwork, insights into the judicial system processes and can offer piece of mind during and even as a shield in testing situations.
At Burbank & Brown, we offer a whole suite of services relating to family law including parenting arrangements and custody, property settlement, family dispute resolution, child support and a whole lot more.