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What You Need To Know Before You Get Divorced

January 23, 2017

Most couples are completely unprepared for divorce and this lack of preparation, plus a lack of knowledge and understanding about what it takes to dissolve a marriage, can make a difficult and distressing time even more complicated and combative.

The more you know about divorce before you embark on the journey, the better for everyone involved.

From the cost of the actual divorce itself to alternative legal approaches, this article covers a few of the things that you need to know before you get divorced, but given that it’s an emotional, sometimes complicated and often challenging time, it’s always advisable to get professional help early on in the process.

  1. In Australia, there are three separate legal procedures that have to be completed in order for a marriage to be completely dissolved, namely the granting of the Divorce Order, property settlement (dividing up the assets) and parenting arrangements (if there are children of the marriage). Very often, getting divorced is the most straightforward aspect of the relationship breakdown and the separate legal processes of formalising parenting arrangements and working out a financial settlement can be much more contentious and lengthy.
  2. If the couple has children under the age of 18, the Court will only grant a divorce if it is satisfied that reasonable arrangements have been made for their care, including financial support, education and housing.
  3. A divorce can be granted without the property settlement being finalised.
  4. The couple does not have to agree to be separated for the 12-month separation time period to begin. Either the husband or the wife can let the other know that he or she believes that the marriage has broken down and that they wish to be separated.
  5. The couple has to be living separately and apart for 12 months without any prospect of the marriage being resumed before a divorce will be granted. There are additional requirements if the couple has been separated but living under the same roof.
  6. If the couple has been married for less than two years, they have to participate in compulsory marriage counselling before they are eligible to apply for a divorce.
  7. The courts don’t take into account why a marriage ended. Under the Family Law Act, there is a ‘no-fault’ principle and the only grounds for divorce are that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
  8. To apply for a divorce in Australia, either the husband or wife must either regard Australia as their home and intend to live in Australia indefinitely, be an Australian citizen by birth, descent or by grant of Australian citizenship or ordinarily live in Australia and have done so for 12 months immediately before filing for divorce.
  9. Professional advice is always a good decision. Divorce isn’t always the only solution to a marriage in crisis and there are a range of counselling services available to couples and families.
  10. There are alternatives to court. In fact, over 95% of divorce cases in Australia don’t end up going to trial and many couples choose to negotiate their divorces through alternative approaches such as mediation and collaboration.  Collaborative Law is a method of dispute resolution designed to assist you to stay in control of your own decisions, and an experienced firm like Paterson & Dowding, a top family law practice in Perth, has teams of specially trained practitioners who can assist couples and families reach a negotiated settlement without going to court.

Before you get divorced, you also need to know that there are generally no ‘winners’.  It’s a life-changing decision and if you’re separating from your spouse or partner and need advice, or you are looking to implement parenting and/or financial arrangements, then you should get in touch with the approachable and skilled team at Paterson & Dowding.  They have over 50 years of experience in family law in Perth and their Joondalup and CBD offices are staffed by highly trained, experienced specialist divorce lawyers and family lawyers who can help you.  Contact them on 08 9226 3300 or visit www.patersondowding.com.au for more information.

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