WHAT IS “FAMILY LAW”?
Introduction In simple terms, the concept of family law covers divorce, arrangements for children’s care and property settlement in both marital and de facto relationship breakdowns. It also looks at child support and domestic violence. It is also the negotiation of pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements. Children The best interests of the child is the guiding principle under the Family Law Act. This is worked out by reference to the child’s wishes, relationship with each parent, maturity of the child, the capacity of the parents to provide for the child emotionally, physically and financially, and the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm together with the difficulty and expense of contact. Each case is different. What works for one case may not work for yours. There are no presumptions that one parent is better than the other or that time spent by the parents with the child should be equal. Property Settlement The objective of property settlement is to identify and value the property pool, examine the financial and non-financial contributions made by each party, consider any needs or other requirements they may have and then to try and determine what a just and equitable arrangement is. Like children’s matters, property settlements are approached case-by-case and each is individual. In working out the property pool, we need to know what interests you have in residential and investment property, motor vehicles, bank accounts, investments, shares, furniture, collectibles and antiques, businesses and companies, trust distributions or control, anything of monetary value as well as mortgages, loans, credit card debts and other liabilities. When do I make my Application? If you are separated and not yet applied for, or been granted, a divorce there is no time limit. If you have been granted a divorce, application needs to be made within 12 months of the date of the divorce. Outside that time, you need the permission of the Court to make the application. If your de facto relationship has ended, you need to commence proceedings within 2 years of the date of separation.