Family Lawyers

Sydney Divorce Lawyers with expertise across all areas of family law

Family Lawyers Sydney

We offer prompt, confidential and cost-effective family law advice, options and solutions.

Family law issues are often emotional and stressful for you, your family and those closest to you.  

Our family law solicitors have experience and skills that have been developed over many decades. Reassuringly, our expertise comes with compassion and understanding. We’ll help you sort out the legalities so you can focus on putting your life back together in a safe, practical and emotional way.

Our firm has a reputation for navigating the family law system with skill and care, consistently getting the right outcomes for each unique situation.

With experience across all areas of family law, our lawyers capably resolve matters in the most appropriate and effective way – whether that’s by negotiation, mediation, arbitration, collaboration or litigation.

Family Law Advice and Services

Our advice and services are delivered with professionalism, integrity and care – whether your family law matter is highly complex or more straightforward.

We listen carefully and gain a thorough understanding of your situation and priorities, so we can offer clear advice, options, strategies and recommendations.

Enriching RelationshipsDe facto RelationshipsSettlement Agreements
MarriageChild SupportInternational Family Law
SeparationParenting and ChildrenNew Relationships
DivorceSpousal Maintenance 
Money and PropertyFamily Courts and Processes 

Australia’s Family Law System

Australia’s modern family law system aims to help people resolve their family relationship issues, including breakdowns in those relationships.

The Family Court of Australia has registries throughout Australia with specialist family law judges and staff. While the Court is there to help resolve the most difficult or complex legal family disputes, the system encourages people to agree on things outside of Court where possible.

The Family Law Act 1975

The Family Law Act 1975 is the main law for family law issues in Australia. It sets out the rights, duties and liabilities of couples and children. It also provides an avenue for enforcing those rights and liabilities and deals with the dissolution of marriage and de facto relationships.

This legislation was first introduced in 1975, and continues to address the needs of families experiencing crisis or the breakdown of their family unit, while protecting the rights of children.

This Act applies to all family law matters when dividing property or when there is a dispute about the care of children at the end of a relationship, except in Western Australia.

In Western Australia, there are two separate pieces of governing legislation. Married couples wanting to divorce and to divide property and make suitable arrangements for children are governed by the Family Law Act 1975 whereas de facto relationships are governed by the Family Court Act 1997.

Earlier Family Laws

Before 1975, each state and territory had its own legislation and systems when dealing with family law matters.

Back then, it was also more difficult to apply for a divorce. Marriage was considered to be a contract and when a spouse made an application for divorce, they were required to show proof that the relationship breakdown was due to the “fault” of the other party.

Acceptable causes of fault included adultery, habitual drunkenness or insanity, and evidence would need to be supplied in Court proceedings. It was common for divorce applications to be opposed, and the applicant would hire a private investigator or lawyers to gather evidence to support their case.

This fault system resulted in Orders being made for compensation, damages against the party who was “at fault” or a more favourable property settlement for the spouse that was not “at fault”.

Today, while you or your former spouse or de facto partner may have plenty of grievances, the system is not based around fault. Instead, you now simply need to prove that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. This helps to reduce stress and hostility while encouraging alternative dispute resolution methods.

Family Law FAQs

Divorce

No. Australia’s “no fault” system means you only need to prove that your marriage has broken down irretrievably.

Parenting

Generally, no.

The only time an affair might possibly be relevant in family law parenting matters (or even child protection welfare related matters) is if the parent who had or is having an affair has been grossly neglecting their children because of the affair or exposing them to inappropriate conduct.

For example, it might be relevant where a partner has brought a person into the children’s lives in a way that is detrimental to the emotional or psychological wellbeing of the children.

Property

Where couples have separated as a result of an affair, it may be relevant if a new relationship has formed which results in the new partner being considered a financial resource to either you or your former spouse or de facto partner. This is a factor that the Court can take into account in property settlements.

Generally

An affair might impact how you approach negotiations with your former spouse or de facto partner. For example, if you’ve had an affair, our advice and approach to the case may be tailored differently. We’d generally avoid recommending anything that may potentially inflame your former spouse or de facto partner or otherwise hinder negotiations.

Contributions are the things, in percentage terms, that you and former spouse or de facto partner have put into the net asset pool of the relationship.

Contributions can be made before or during a marriage or de facto relationship or at the date of separation, and include:

  • homemaker and parenting contributions
  • direct or indirect financial contributions, including wages, gifts and inheritances
  • other non-financial contributions, including improving a property.

This issue can be complex, and it’s hard to provide a definitive answer.

However, in shorter relationships the court may take an asset by asset approach. This means that whatever either party brought into the relationship they take out (subject to, for instance, whether there were children).

Shorter relationships are generally relationships of up to about 5 years. The court may apply the same approach with longer-term relationships where the parties, for example, did not live together, never shared a financial life and had no children.

In longer relationships, the court will likely take a more global approach. This means all the assets are put into the total asset pool and included in the division, including assets brought into the relationship or accumulated during the relationship. In some cases, even assets acquired after the relationship has ended but before the date of the final hearing are included.

The court will then weigh up what it calls a myriad of contributions to determine what each party contributed to this net asset pool.

For example, if you contributed $300,000 at the start of a relationship or contributed $100,000 each year of your salary for 11 years and your former spouse or de facto partner was not working or was working part time, and maybe you did more work on building a business, the court will normally make an adjustment in your favour to a proportion of the asset pool that is divided.

For family law advice tailored to your circumstances, contact our family law firm, Ivy Law Group, on 02 9262 4003.

Yes. If family violence has occurred in your relationship, this may have an impact on your overall property settlement matters.

Section 75(2)(o) of the  Family Law Act 1975 states that a Court can take into account any other factor that it regards as relevant to the division of property, including “waste” in relation to assets and “negative contributions” in relation to serious family violence.

If you want to run a waste or negative contributions argument, either in Court or during negotiations, we highly recommend that you obtain legal advice as it is a complex area of family law.

For family law advice tailored to your circumstances, contact the family law lawyers at Ivy Law Group on 02 9262 4003.

You can also find out more on this topic by reading “Can there be negative contributions?”. 

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia deals with the majority of family law matters, with the Family Court of Australia dealing with the more complex cases.

However, both courts deal with mostly all family law matters, regardless of whether you were married or in a de facto relationship.

Yes. Both married couples and de facto couples  (including same-sex couples) have the same rights under the Family Law Act 1975. However, different time limitations apply.

Western Australia deals with married couples and de facto couples (including same sex couples)  under separate legislation.

Yes, there are strict time limitations when commencing family law proceedings in either the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

The time limits that you should be aware of are:

Application for Divorce

12 months from the date of separation (married couples only).

Divorce Order

Becomes final one month and one day after the Court grants Divorce at the Court hearing.

Response to Divorce (Australia)

Application must be filed within 28 days from the date of service.

Response to Divorce (overseas)

Application must be filed within 42 days from the date of service.

Special Service

As soon as practicable, but no longer than 12 months from the date of filing.

Property Settlement

An application for property settlement must be filed:

 

·       De facto couples: within two years from the date of separation in a de facto relationship, or

 

·       Married couples:  within 12 months from the date upon which your divorce becomes final.

Spouse Maintenance  

An application for spousal maintenance must be filed:

 

·       De facto couples: within two years from the date of separation in a de facto relationship, or

 

·     Married couples:  within 12 months from the date upon which your divorce becomes final.

Parenting Matters      

Proceedings can be commenced at any time. If final Orders have been made in parenting matters, then proceedings can only be recommenced if there is a significant change in the circumstances.

Application for Leave

If you fail to commence proceedings within the time limitations, then you must apply to the Court for permission to commence proceedings out of time. To do so, you will have to provide an explanation to the Court about why you failed to commence the proceedings within the required time and show that the failure of the Court to make an Order would cause you hardship.

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