It’s important to get legal advice specific to your unique situation. What may be true for one family, may be entirely different for you.
You may have family, friends, neighbours or colleagues who have been through a family law battle, but it’s important for you to understand that their outcome could be entirely different to yours.
That’s where we can help.
We can provide you with general advice about your circumstances and the best way forward (both before and after separation).
You have a confidential relationship with us so we will NOT contact the other party unless and until you want us to!
We can help you negotiate with the other party and work towards an early, child-focused resolution.
We will do all we can to help you resolve your matter outside of Court in the most timely and cost effective way possible.
Mediation can be an excellent way to settle matters early.
Mediation allows you to have tough, but child-focused discussions with the other party in a structured and confidential environment. Mediation is also far more cost effective than Court!
At Access Family Law we charge a fixed fee for Court attendance!
We have extensive experience in the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court. We can appear in Newcastle, Sydney, Parramatta and many other locations across Australia.
Whether you were married, in a de facto relationship, same sex or LGBTIQ relationship, we can give you advice about your family law parenting matters.
You may also be a grandparent, family member or another person interested in the care, welfare or development of the children. Whatever the circumstances, we encourage you to get advice about your own unique circumstances.
The Family Law Act 1975 states that children’s best interests should always be the ‘paramount consideration’ in family law parenting matters.
This means that your children’s best interests are more important than anything else!
When figuring out what is in a child’s best interest the Court begins with the following assumptions:
Both parents are responsible for the care and welfare of their children until the children are 18 years of age; and
There is a presumption that shared responsibilities and cooperation between the parents, is also in the best interests of the child.
Children also have a right to be safe from physical and psychological harm (for example, from being subjected to or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence).
If having a meaningful relationship with both parents could put the children at risk of harm, then the presumption that both parents should share parental responsibility, can be rebutted.
The are many ways for parenting matters to be resolved. The most common agreements reached are Parenting Plans and Consent Orders… But what if you can’t reach an agreement?
A parenting plan is a written agreement made about children and parenting matters. This agreement is signed by both parties and is not made by the Court. This also means that it is not ‘legally enforceable’.
Parenting plans are flexible and can be changed and amended as you and the other parent agree.
Although they’re not “legally enforceable” Parenting Plans can still be used as evidence in the Family Court and need to be included with the Initiating Application when the matter is commenced.
Consent Orders can cover parenting arrangements as well as property and maintenance matters. Consent Orders are filed with the Court and made into formal Court Orders without the parties needing to attend Court.
Consent Orders, unlike parenting plans are legally binding and enforceable. This is also why they are carefully reviewed by the Court to ensure that they’re in the children’s best interests.
If you’ve tried to reach an agreement with the other party and you just can’t seem to make it work, there’s a number of things you can try before going to Court.
Before you file in Court there are some “pre-action procedures” and rules you’ll need to follow. Generally you need to try to resolve the dispute between yourselves first before commencing Court proceedings (unless there are urgent circumstances).
You can participate in mediation with the other party. You can click here to check out our page about mediation. Sometimes mediation isn’t appropriate and even if you give it your best shot and make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute, sometimes you still won’t agree.
In some circumstances, Court proceedings will be necessary.
Filing an application with the Court can be costly and time consuming. We strongly recommend seeking legal advice before filing in Court! If done incorrectly, you could face a “Costs Order”. This means that you could be Ordered to pay a percentage of the other side’s legal fees (as well as your own!).
Once in Court, it’s important to understand that you are leaving huge decisions about your children’s lives in the hands of the Judge. They can make Orders that you or the other party don’t like, but that the Judge thinks are in the best interests of your children. If Orders are made that you don’t like, you are still expected to follow them.
Even if your matter is already going through the Court process, you can still try to settle the matter with the other parent. If you can manage to reach an agreement after Court has started! If the Judge is satisfied that the agreement you’ve reached is in the children’s best interests, then they can make the agreement into formal Consent Orders and the proceedings can end.