FAQs Regarding Family and Divorce Laws - Paterson & Dowding
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FAQs

As expert family lawyers in Perth and Joondalup, we are in a unique position to answer various FAQs regarding family law.

To speak to expert Family Lawyers and Divorce Lawyers in Perth, contact us today.

Why contact Paterson & Dowding?

We have knowledgeable and experienced lawyers who can assist you to draft a Financial Agreement, or review an agreement prepared by the other party’s lawyer. We can also advise you how to enforce or set aside the agreement.

Contact us to book an initial appointment with Patricia Schrape or Caroline Teo
for only $360 + GST to discuss how a Financial Agreement might work for you.

Is a Financial Agreement always binding?

A Financial Agreement is not always “binding”. It is only binding if all the legislative requirements have been met, the agreement has not been terminated and it has not been set aside by the Family Court. If you think your agreement is not valid, you should seek legal advice to see whether it can be set aside.

Why is it important to see a lawyer when considering a Financial Agreement?

It is essential that you see a lawyer to ensure that your agreement is, as far as possible, valid and enforceable. At Paterson & Dowding we recommend you speak with either Caroline Teo or Patricia Schrape who are both experienced in drafting, advising and representing clients in relation to these agreements.

Further, it is important that your agreement also works at a practical level, so that in the unfortunate event that you separate, your agreement will operate clearly to manage your financial affairs. In other words, even though your agreement might comply with the legislation, if it has vague or imprecise terms, you might still find yourself unable to use your agreement. This may lead to arguments and the need to ask the Family Court to interpret your agreement.

What is the effect of a Financial Agreement?

It allows you to contract out of the provisions of the legislation that normally apply to separating couples in relation to spousal maintenance and property settlement. The legislation sets out detailed requirements for the drafting of these agreements. The Family Court has interpreted these requirements very strictly on the basis that if you wish to avoid the protection of the court, you must do so very carefully.

When is it appropriate to use a Financial Agreement?

  • To protect your family wealth and or inheritance, particularly where a spouse is a member of a family trust or business;
  • Farming families in particular may look to a Financial Agreement to protect the farming enterprise for the next generation;
  • To decrease the risk of becoming involved in Family Court proceedings following a separation;
  • Couples entering into second or subsequent relationships or marriages often enter into Financial Agreements to protect the assets they bring with them, especially if they wish to preserve such property for any children of their earlier relationship or marriage; and
  • As part of general estate planning or business succession planning measures.

When can you enter into a Financial Agreement?

  • Before you enter into a de-facto relationship or before you get married;
  • during your de-facto relationship or marriage; or
  • after separation or divorce, in which case your agreement operates to record the terms of your settlement as an alternative to obtaining consent orders from the Family Court.

Financial Agreements are not just for “celebrities”.

How much will it cost?

Our lawyers charge their time on an hourly basis and will provide an estimate of costs at your initial meeting. If you and your former partner provide all the information within the time frame and cooperate, the collaborative practice will almost certainly be quicker and cheaper than a dispute resolved by a court hearing.

What is the process once I make an initial enquiry?

On receipt of your initial enquiry via email or telephone a lawyer will contact you. You will be asked to provide a brief overview of your situation and some personal information. This is necessary to help us assess whether we can assist you. If so, we will invite you to make an appointment for you to meet with a lawyer.

You attend the initial appointment and discuss your situation. The lawyer will provide you with an indication of your options to resolve your matter, give you an indication of costs and answer any questions you have surrounding your situation. Your appointment with a lawyer is protected by Legal Professional Privilege. This means we cannot disclose anything you tell us, to anyone else, without your consent.

Following the appointment, you will be invited to sign our costs agreement. This sets out our fees and charges and the terms upon which we would be willing to assist you. Once you have signed the costs agreement and complied with any terms regarding payment, we will begin working on your matter.

Your matter can progress through a number of stages to reach a resolution. The first stage is negotiation with the other party as this is the simplest and cheapest option. If no agreement is reached, the next stage is usually mediation followed by Court proceedings – however, we encourage parties to settle their disputes using negotiation.

What to expect and bring to the initial consultation?

Your lawyer will ask you to explain your situation and the family law issues you wish to resolve. S/he will inform you of your legal rights, explain what options are available to you to resolve your dispute and discuss any concerns you have surrounding your family law matter. There is no obligation to proceed with engaging the lawyer after your initial consultation.

It is beneficial to you and your lawyer if you come to the initial meeting prepared with as much information as you can. This includes:

  • A summary of key dates such as dates of birth, date of marriage, date you started living with together, date of separation, the names and dates of birth of your children, and dates when key assets were acquired and/or sold.
  • If the issue relates to a financial settlement:
    • Details of the assets, liabilities and superannuation, that currently exist and how they are owned.
    • Bank account details and current balances.
    • All known sources of income that are available between you and your former partner, and a list of the regular household expenses.
  • Where the issues relate to children and parenting, documents such as recent school reports, and medical information (if relevant).
  • A list of questions you wish to ask.

Don’t worry if you don’t have all of this information or you are unsure about what to ask. Our lawyers are skilled in knowing what you need to know, even if you don’t ask.

Why should I choose Paterson & Dowding?

Our team of Family Lawyers in Perth and Joondalup offers a broad range of services for separated, married and de facto couples and interested third parties.

As one of the longest established Family Law firms in Perth with 50 years of experience, our highly skilled team consists of Accredited Family Law Specialists, Nationally Accredited Mediators, Collaborative Lawyers, Independent Children’s Lawyers and a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.

We are committed to fully understanding each client’s specific legal concerns, no matter how complicated the matter, in order to achieve the best outcome.

 

Who is the best lawyer for my matter – toughest, most experienced, gets best results?

All of our lawyers practise in all areas of Family Law. All matters are overseen by a senior practitioner with assistance from junior lawyers and clerks as required. This ensures a value for money service to our clients.

Many of our lawyers have specialist interests in particular aspects of Family Law. Please view our staff profiles on our website to find a lawyer with the right experience for your Family Law issue.

Do I need a family lawyer?

We recognise that this may be a very stressful time in your life and our lawyers are well equipped to provide you with constructive guidance.  We recommend that you have the benefit of meeting with one of our lawyers for at least a one-off consultation.  By meeting with a family lawyer at our Perth law firm, you will be provided with practical advice to help you navigate your way through your legal issues. 

What can you do?

One of the major concerns voiced by clients is the cost of litigation. We are often asked by our clients what they can do themselves to keep costs down.

If you are considering making an appointment with divorce lawyers in Perth, there are a number of things you can prepare that can save us time and you money.

For the first appointment:

You should ensure that you have the following information available to provide your family lawyer:

  • Full name, address and date(s) of birth of you, the other party and any children
  • Date you began living together
  • Date of marriage
  • Place of marriage
  • Date of separation
  • The living arrangements of your children (if applicable)
  • Details of your assets and liabilities, including superannuation (owned solely and jointly)

You should endeavour to bring the following documents with you:

  • Your marriage certificate
  • Birth certificates for the children (if applicable)
  • Any previous court documentation, especially court orders
  • Any letters or documents from your former partner or their solicitor

Don’t worry if you can’t provide the information or you don’t have access to the documents.  We will be able to help you obtain these details and get the documents we need to properly advise you.