Family Law

Are you experiencing a relationship breakdown and feeling daunted by the process of separation and not quite sure where to start?

Or have you been separated or divorced for a while, and need some help with managing the ongoing arrangement with your ex-partner?

At BTLawyers, our job is to help take the stress out of separation and divorce, and make the process as positive for you as possible. One of the things our clients always tell us is that they know we are in their corner – and we want to be in your corner, too.

What do you need help with?

Getting married or moving in with your partner is an exciting and happy time. The last thing you want to be thinking about is ‘what if things go wrong,’ right?

Unfortunately, sometimes things do go wrong, and some people like to protect themselves against that risk.

Depending on what each of you are bringing into the relationship or marriage, and particularly if one of you has a significantly larger volume of assets than the other, you might want to consider ways in which you can each protect your assets in advance of moving in together or getting married.

If you would like any advice on this, book your consultation today and we would be happy to assess your personal situation and offer you some initial advice about the options that are available to you.

Some of our services you might be interested in accessing at this stage are:

When you first start to think about separating from your partner, you’re going to have a lot of questions on your mind. Questions that you need answered to help you understand what will happen if you do separate, and to clear up some uncertainties around that process. Some of these questions might be:

  • If I decide to leave what do I need to do?
  • Can I afford to leave?
  • What will happen to my kids?
  • How much will this all cost?
  • What is the process?
  • How do I protect my property?
  • What will I be entitled to, and what are my rights and obligations?

People always ask us if it’s too early to have a chat with a lawyer to get some of these questions answered if you haven’t even separated yet. We always say that it’s never too early to seek advice. In fact, the earlier you can get some legal advice, the more informed you will be, which will help with the decisions you need to make.

Some of our services you might be interested in accessing at this stage are:

I have recently separated and I am not sure where to start? Separation is a difficult and stressful time. Even the most amicable separations that we see still cause some level of stress. After you have officially separated or decided to separate, you will have a lot of questions that need answering, such as:

  • Property matters – what documents do I have to disclose? Do I need to place a caveat on my property? Do I need to protect any of my assets?
  • Spousal maintenance – will I be entitled? Do I need to pay?
  • What will I be entitled to overall?

If there are children involved, some questions you might have are:

  • How do we reach a parenting arrangement?
  • How can I get more time?
  • What is in the best interests of my children?
  • My partner has taken my children away – what do I do? What are my rights?
  • How can the Grandparents get access?

These questions can be answered in a consultation with your family lawyer. Here at BTLawyers, we take our role to minimise the stress and frustration of separation and divorce seriously. We want you to come out of the process feeling satisfied with the outcome achieved.

Minimisation of stress is one of the reasons why our Legal Counsel, Vanessa Hernandez, became an Accredited Mediator in addition to being a Family Lawyer – so she could acquire and learn the tools to help people minimise the conflict that inevitably occurs through a separation process.

How long should I wait to engage a Family Lawyer?

Some of our services you might be interested in accessing at this stage are:

Once you have been formally separated for 12 months, you can apply for a divorce. By this stage most people have already reached their property and parenting agreements and find that they can handle the divorce application process on their own. But sometimes matters are still quite complex between ex-partners, or some people like to have proper legal support, at which point you might want to engage a lawyer to assist with your divorce application.

Some of our services you might be interested in accessing at this stage are:

If you’re in a de facto or same sex relationship, understanding your legal rights in Australia relating to family law matters such as parenting, property and separation can be confusing.

Does your relationship meets the criteria of a de facto relationship? What the time limitations are applicable? If you are separating, you might be confused about your legal rights when it comes to assets or children, or if your matter will be treated the same as a marriage in terms of entitlements.

In Australia, de facto or same sex couples are now able to deal with their property matters under the Family Law Act.

How do you establish if you are in a de facto relationship?

To establish that you are in a de facto relationship with another person, you cannot be legally married to that person or be related by family, but you must have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.

When determining whether this requirement has been satisfied, the Court considers many issues including (but not limited to):

  1. The duration of the relationship.
  2. The nature and extent of your common residence.
  3. Whether a sexual relationship exists.
  4. The degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support between the parties.
  5. The ownership, use and acquisition of property, the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life.
  6. The care and support of children.
  7. The reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

What weight and regard is given by the Court to any such matters is at the Court’s discretion.

Importantly, parties have a time limitation of two (2) years from the date of separation to resolve their property matters.  If this time limitation period expires, it will be difficult for you to proceed with your matter as you will be out of time.

Do you need a consultation to discuss your legal position?

If you are entering, or you are already in, a de facto or same sex relationship, it’s never too early to seek legal advice. Why not book your consultation with Vanessa today.

You and your former partner are divorced – either recently or some time ago – and you have arrangements, either formal or informal, in place for your parenting and property matters.

But perhaps things aren’t going so smoothly. You and your ex-partner might be having trouble sticking to your existing parenting agreement or orders, or circumstances might have changed – people want to move across town, interstate or overseas, or they get new jobs that change their ability to care for the children on certain days. You may need help with enforcing your orders, contravening the other party for breaching the orders, or maybe the orders need to be varied.

Maybe you never documented your property settlement and now you are realising that that might not have been the best decision.  Whatever the scenario, when these things arise and you cannot reach an agreement, you may need to seek legal advice.

Some of our services you might be interested in accessing at this stage are:

If you are a victim of domestic violence and want to seek legal advice, we understand that this is a very sensitive issue that requires careful attention, particularly if your children are impacted. You probably have a lot of questions about your rights and what will happen if you do take legal action against your partner, such as:

  • How would I leave?
  • Where can I go?
  • The police have filed an application for me, what do I do?
  • The police have attended but have not applied for an order – what can I do?
  • How will I be able to keep my children safe?

We also find many people are still not sure of whether their case qualifies as domestic violence. The definition of domestic violence has been widened over time and now includes conduct from one party to another that is:

  1. Physically or sexually abusive.
  2. Emotionally or psychologically abusive.
  3. Economically abusive.
  4. Threatening.
  5. Coercive.
  6. Controlling or dominating in nature, and which causes a person to fear for their safety or wellbeing, or that of someone else.

This is not an exhaustive list, however examples of such conduct could include (but are not limited to) the following:

  1. Causing injury to a person or threatening to do so.
  2. Coercing a person to engage in sexual activity or attempting to do so.
  3. Causing damage to a person’s property or threatening to do so.
  4. Depriving a person of their liberty or threatening to do so.
  5. Threatening a person with the death or injury of the person, a child of the person or someone else.
  6. Threatening to commit suicide or self-harm to torment, intimidate or frighten the person to whom such behaviour is directed.
  7. Causing or threatening to cause the death of, or injury to, an animal so as to control, dominate or coerce the person.
  8. Unauthorised surveillance of a person, defined as the unreasonable monitoring or tracking of a person’s movements, activities or interpersonal associations without that person’s consent e.g. reading a person’s SMS messages, monitoring an email account or internet browser history, monitoring a person’s account with a social networking internet site, or using a GPS device to track a person’s movements.
  9. Unlawfully stalking a person.

Importantly, a child may be considered to have been exposed to domestic violence if the child hears or otherwise experiences the effect of domestic violence.  This includes:

  1. Overhearing threats of abuse
  2. Experiencing financial stress arising from economic abuse
  3. Seeing or hearing an assault
  4. Comforting or aiding a person who has been physically abused
  5. Observing bruising or other injuries of a person who has been physically abused
  6. Cleaning up a site after property has been damaged
  7. Being present at a domestic violence incident that is attended by Police.

If you believe that one or several these examples apply to you and/or your children, or have circumstances unique to these which you want to discuss, you should contact us today so we can help you or point you in the direction of others who can.  We understand it may be difficult to discuss these issues, or to leave a relationship of this nature, but we promise to ensure your enquiry is kept confidential and that your matter will be treated supportively and sensitively.

If your spouse is alleging domestic violence against you, caution should be exercised particularly where children are involved or in situations where a Domestic Violence Application has already been filed against you.  You should obtain legal advice urgently so that you can understand the impact that such allegations may have on you as well as your parenting matters.

You or your children may also be at risk for numerous other reasons.  This may be as a result of the health and/or psychological health of a parent or a child, drug or alcohol use, or criminal behaviour by a child or parent.  If you are in such a situation, contact us today so that we can help you with some solutions to address and/or minimise such risk.

Importantly, if you feel that either you and/or your children are at risk, or you feel threatened or unsafe, you should not hesitate to contact the Police on 000 for immediate assistance.

Sometimes there will be cases that require the urgent attention of the Court, or where despite the best of efforts of all parties, they have been unable to achieve a resolution.

For many, the very thought of Court proceedings sounds daunting. However, it may be your only avenue to seek urgent assistance and/or your only opportunity to secure finality in your matter in situations where all other opportunities to do so have been exhausted. Initiating Court proceedings does not mean that you must proceed to a Final Hearing – there will still be many opportunities throughout your proceedings to have discussions and settle your matter.

If you are in receipt of a Court Application filed by the other party, you should ensure that you obtain urgent legal advice as soon as you can, as time limitations will apply for the filing of your response material.  You should also have a Court date allocated for which you will need to be prepared and available for.

Book in for a consultation to seek advice on your court order

If you need advice on the court process, your options, or assistance in preparing for Court, book in for a consultation to discuss your matter today.  Our experience in negotiating will assist to facilitate an early resolution where possible, and if your matter is complicated, BTLawyers have a network of qualified and specialised professionals, including Barristers, Psychologists, Valuers, Financial Advisors and other experts who we can help you to engage to assist with your matter.

Sometimes there will be cases that require the urgent attention of the Court, or where despite the best of efforts of all parties, they have been unable to achieve a resolution.

For many, the very thought of Court proceedings sounds daunting. However, it may be your only avenue to seek urgent assistance and/or your only opportunity to secure finality in your matter in situations where all other opportunities to do so have been exhausted. Initiating Court proceedings does not mean that you must proceed to a Final Hearing – there will still be many opportunities throughout your proceedings to have discussions and settle your matter.

If you are in receipt of a Court Application filed by the other party, you should ensure that you obtain urgent legal advice as soon as you can, as time limitations will apply for the filing of your response material.  You should also have a Court date allocated for which you will need to be prepared and available for.

Book in for a consultation to seek advice on your court order

If you need advice on the court process, your options, or assistance in preparing for Court, book in for a consultation to discuss your matter today.  Our experience in negotiating will assist to facilitate an early resolution where possible, and if your matter is complicated, BTLawyers have a network of qualified and specialised professionals, including Barristers, Psychologists, Valuers, Financial Advisors and other experts who we can help you to engage to assist with your matter.

In even the most amicable of separations, it can sometimes be hard for couples to reach agreement on absolutely everything without the assistance of a mediator.

Mediation allows you to have a confidential discussion with your ex-partner about your separation, parenting and property matters with the assistance of a specialised, unbiased Mediator who facilitates the discussion and negotiation with a view to achieving a viable outcome for both of you and your family.

It is our belief that each party and their lawyer should do all things possible to resolve the case without the need for Court Proceedings, which can be a lengthy, expensive and stressful process and can impact and deteriorate already fragile relationships. Mediation is a great step to take to try and avoid this.

Currently, the legislation requires parties to attend mediation prior to commencing Court Proceedings regarding parenting matters, encouraging parents to find solutions for their children without the need for litigation.  There are some exemptions to this mandatory requirement, for example where a child or parent is at risk.  Speak to us today to find out whether these exemptions might apply to you.

At this stage, mediation is not mandatory for property matters, however, if this step has not been taken prior to a party initiating proceedings, it is likely that the Court will nevertheless order that mediation take place.  It is therefore important that you consider this helpful tool prior to commencing proceedings.

A Will sets out how you wish your estate to be distributed after you pass away. An estate is made up of your assets and liabilities. They include things like bank accounts, properties, cars, mortgages, loans and personal items.

When making a Will you are required to appoint an Executor and nominate your Beneficiaries.

An Executor is the person who will administer or run your estate. They ensure all your debts are paid, you funeral is organised and they call in your assets. Their job is to give the assets to your beneficiaries. An executor does not need to be a beneficiary but often they are.

Your Beneficiaries (you can have more than one) are the people who will receive your estate once you pass away.  In addition to family and friends, you can also nominate a Charity as a beneficiary.

A Will also allows you to appoint a Guardian for your children.

An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) is a document that enables someone to appoint an attorney while they are alive. The job of the attorney is to make decisions for someone about financial, personal and health matters when they are alive.

The most common decisions made by attorneys are medical and health decisions. These can include what treatment someone will have, whether someone will be placed into a nursing home or assisted living and whether someone will be left on life support.

An attorney can also make decisions for financial matters such as paying bills and buying or selling property.

It is important you have an Enduring Power of Attorney to ensure someone can make decisions for you when you no longer have capacity to do so.

What is a Estate Litigation?
When someone passes away, they often leave behind assets (such as cash in a bank account, a house, shares, a car) and more common than not, debts (such as a mortgage, credit cards, car loans).  It is these assets and debts that form a deceased person’s ‘estate’.

If the value of the debts is greater than assets – there is rarely any dispute.

However, when the assets are greater than the debts, there are often disputes that arise about who is entitled to what.

Reasons for Contesting a Will
The following are the most common circumstances when you might contest a will:

  • You were left out of the Will;
  • You are not happy with your share;
  • The Will is not valid;
  • There is more than one Will;
  • The deceased was sick or ill when they made the Will;
  • The deceased was influenced or pressured when they made their Will;
  • The deceased got married or divorced after making a Will; and
  • There is no Will.

What happens if my claim is successful or unsuccessful?
If your claim is successful in addition to any benefit you receive, the estate will also be required to contribute towards your legal fees.

However, even if your claim is unsuccessful, usually the estate will still be required to contribute towards your legal fees unless you have acted unreasonably.

Why choose BTLawyers for your separation or divorce?

Fixed Fees

Fixed Fees

Personal Service

Personal Service

Better Outcomes

Better Outcomes

Let’s work together

At BTLawyers, we deliver the most desirable outcomes for those we represent. We achieve this through our firm’s structure and the calibre of our team.

Make an enquiry or call us on (07) 3211 2233