Experienced family lawyers can help guide you through the trials and tribulations of family law matters. This is especially important because the family law system can seem really daunting and confusing, leaving you feeling uncertain about your future, as well as your family’s. With the right information and help, you will be better equipped to make decisions and arrangements that are in the best interests of you and your family.
What Are Your Legal Rights in Family Law?
When dealing with family law matters, it is essential that you are aware of your legal rights. Since family law is an umbrella term for several matters, let’s look at some in detail below.
Rights in Cases of Separation
If partners have decided to separate, the legal process accepts that this may look different for everyone. Partners can be separated and still live under the same roof if they choose. Additionally, it’s important to remember that you will not receive an official certificate saying you are separated, so the onus is on you to keep a record of the date when you officially separated. This is because there are a few steps to be followed next.
You will need to contact organisations such Services Australia for Centrelink, Child Support and Medicare and inform them that you are separated. You must then make arrangements in order to divide assets and property should you wish to leave the family home. In line with this, you will also need to update your Will and contact your superannuation fund and insurance. If you have children, you will need to make arrangements for where they will live. It is important to remember that if you choose to leave your family home, you will not lose your rights to the house or your things.
Rights in Cases of Divorce
Divorce is when a Court makes an order to officially end your marriage. It is not essential for your partner to agree. Similarly, the law does not focus on whose fault it is. Additionally, if children are involved, their safety and welfare will be of utmost importance. The court will want proof to ensure you have made proper arrangements for the children before it agrees to the divorce.
You do not need to get divorced if you don’t want to; you can opt for separation instead. However, if you wish to get married again, you will need to finalise the divorce. If you choose to stay married, this may have implications on your financial situation and can change what happens with your Will.
Rights When Children Are Involved
Whether you’re married or in a de facto relationship, the same laws apply to children. When making arrangements for childcare after divorce or separation, a family lawyer can help you in the negotiation process with your former partner. If both parties can mutually agree on arrangements, you can get this agreement written down. You have the right to seek legal advice before you agree to sign the document though. Legal advice also comes in handy when you need to decide whether other family members, such as grandparents and relatives, can be involved in the children’s lives.
In most cases, a parenting plan can be instituted to ensure that the children are properly cared for. This is a legal document that is signed and dated by both parents and other people involved. It outlines how parental responsibility will be shared and details such as:
- where the children will live
- how they will be financially supported
- who the children spend time and communicate with
- school or childcare
- medical issues
- religious or cultural practices
- how disagreements about parenting arrangements will be sorted out
- how the parents, or other people involved, will communicate with each other
There is no need to attend Court if all parties agree on the terms set out in the parenting plan. However, if you want to ensure that the terms are followed by everyone, you can apply to the Court for the agreement to be made into consent orders. If an agreement cannot be reached, you or the other party can apply to the court for a parenting order. You reserve the right to a relationship with your children provided that they will be safe.
If you wish to take your child interstate or out of the country, you will need to inform the other party before doing so. In case they do not agree, you will need to apply for a Court order. This is because the law dictates that children have a right to a relationship with both parents, and other important people in their lives. Since moving a long distance away can affect these relationships, it can be an issue if you take them away without permission. If there are parenting orders in place, seek legal advice before planning to break them. The Court can send out an order to find and return children if they have been taken or kept away without consent.
Rights in Case of Family Violence
Family violence is a major problem that can have serious implications on you and your children’s lives. It can include acts of verbal, emotional, physical, sexual or economic abuse. The term can also include things like stalking or controlling behaviour, such as preventing you from seeing your loved ones. All Australian residents, including those on visa, are protected by the law, meaning that nobody has the right to hurt or threaten you.
If you or your children are victims of family violence, you can apply for a family violence intervention order. This is an order made by a Court to protect someone from family violence. It states that another party cannot do certain things as they will be in violation of the law. If this order is not followed, then you have the right to call the police on that party for breaking the law.
Property & Money Rights
When it comes to property and money, you can opt for a property settlement or financial agreement. This is a decision regarding how your property and/or assets will be divided amongst both parties when or if you separate or divorce. With the aid of a family lawyer, you and the other party can come to an agreement on how properties, money, investments, inheritance, debts, shares and so on will be split. If you cannot agree with each other, you can enter arbitration or ask a Court to decide for you.
How Can a Family Lawyer Help Me With These Rights?
Knowing your rights is extremely important to ensure you are not treated unfairly in regard to family matters. While it is possible to approach these issues by yourself — in fact, you do not even necessarily need a lawyer for Family Court — it is always advised to seek the help of professional and experienced family lawyers.
This is because family law can be quite complicated and overwhelming to deal with, especially when you are in an emotional state due to the end of a relationship or a similar familial breakdown. Coming to an agreement can be really difficult at times like these. At this point, a family lawyer can help you and the other involved parties negotiate terms in a civil and fair manner.
Similarly, when it comes to legal documents such as financial agreements, consent orders and Court orders, a legal representative can help ensure that everything is fair and accounted for. In some cases, such as financial agreements, independent legal advice is a requirement for the agreement to be viewed as legal. Getting advice on a range of issues and documents is helpful to not only ensure your best interests are advocated for, but also because once these documents have been approved by the Court, it is very difficult to get them repealed or changed.
Whether you need legal representation in Court, advice or help with drafting documents and evidence, having a family lawyer by your side will help protect you and your rights at every turn.
Find a Family Lawyer at Duffy & Simon to Uphold Your Legal Rights
If you are looking for a trusted family law firm, Duffy & Simon are here to help. Our lawyers come with years of valuable experience and are extremely understanding of our clients and their struggles. We know that navigating legal matters while dealing with a family crisis can be highly stressful. It’s why we treat every client with care and compassion, while striving to offer realistic and honest legal advice. For the best family lawyers in Warragul, contact us today!