Melbourne Family Lawyers
The team at DSA Law understand that Family Law matters can be emotional, complicated, and, at times, contentious. We aim to resolve your matter promptly, cost-effectively, and in a straightforward manner.
We provide high-quality advice and representation in all areas of Family Law including financial matters, binding financial agreements, spousal maintenance, children’s matters, child support, divorce, alternative dispute resolution, and intervention orders.
Division of Property
We provide advice and representation in relation to all aspects of property division, including complex financial matters. We also have extensive experience representing the interests of third parties who have been joined, or are seeking to be joined, to Family Law proceedings.
We will guide you through the four-step process that is generally adopted in Family Law property matters, and assist you in:
- Identifying and valuing the matrimonial property pool, by looking at all parties’ assets and liabilities.
- Determining the relevant financial, and non-financial, contributions made by each party, and the effect that may have on the split of assets.
- Identifying the future needs of both parties, based on things like income, health conditions, care of the children. These factors may also effect the final division of property.
- Determining whether a Court would consider your final property division as “Just and Equitable”.
DSA Law will assist you in reaching an agreement with your former spouse or partner in relation to all issues arising from the breakdown of your relationship.
If you and your former spouse or partner have already reached an agreement, we can provide you with advice as to whether the agreement reached is within the range of what you are entitled to.
We will assist you by drafting Consent Orders to be lodged with the Court or by preparing a Financial Agreement, to ensure that your agreement is binding and enforceable. It is important that any agreement reached in relation to the division of property is made legally binding to prevent your former spouse or partner making a future property claim against you.
If you have recently separated and are struggling to financially support yourself, you may be able to negotiate, or make a claim for, spousal maintenance from your former spouse or partner.
An Applicant must establish that they are unable to support themselves adequately, and that the Respondent has a capacity to pay spousal maintenance.
DSA Law have experience in representing Applicants in negotiating spousal maintenance payments, as well as making applications to the Court (as a last resort). We also have experience representing Respondents who wish to defend a spousal maintenance claim.
Our lawyers will provide you with practical legal advice relating to claims for spousal maintenance.
Binding Financial Agreements
Parties may enter into a Binding Financial Agreement (“BFA”) with respect to both division of property, and spousal maintenance.
They can be entered prior to parties commencing cohabitation, during the relationship, during marriage, or following separation.
As BFAs have not been approved by the Family Court, parties are required to obtain independent legal advice for a BFA to be binding, and specific advice must be provided to each party as to the effect on your rights of entering into a BFA, and the advantages and disadvantages to you of entering into a BFA.
DSA Law will assist in both drafting the Binding Financial Agreement, and providing independent legal advice in relation to an Agreement already prepared.
Our team will work with you to assist you in reaching an agreement on how your children will be cared for following separation. We can provide preliminary advice, negotiate on your behalf, draft a Parenting Plan, draft Consent Orders, and, if necessary, represent you at Court.
We also have experience assisting third parties who are concerned for the care, welfare or development of a child, in making an application to spend time with a child, such as grandparents.
Child Support is a payment made by one parent to the other parent for the benefit of their children. Parents can come to a private agreement about Child Support or they can apply to the Department of Human Services (Child Support) for an Administrative Assessment.
DSA Law will help you when preparing applications, objections and submissions to the Child Support Agency, Administrative Assessment Tribunal, and to the Court.
If you reach a private agreement in relation to Child Support, in place of an Administrative Assessment, DSA Law is experienced in drafting Binding Child Support Agreements and providing advice as to the advantages and disadvantages of entering into the Agreement.
Binding Child Support Agreements can include periodic and/or lump sum payments, such payments can be made to a parent and/or a third party, the child’s school for instance.
If you would like advice about entering into a Binding Child Support Agreement, please contact us.
Family Violence & Intervention Orders
At DSA Law we will assist you in completing an Application for an Intervention Order, and represent you at Court. If you have been served with an Intervention Order, we will provide advice, and represent you at the Interim and Final Hearings.
Family violence can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and financial abuse. Intervention Orders may include conditions to stop the Respondent from using family violence against the protected person, contacting the protected person, or even excluding the Respondent from the home. If the Respondent breaches the conditions of the Intervention Order, they may be charged with a criminal offence.
Intervention Orders do however often allow for negotiation between the parties’ lawyers, for mediation and for agreements to be made with respect to the parties’ children. It is very important to get advice on the interaction between Intervention Orders and Family Court matters.
Application for Divorce
In Australia, the only ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. This is established by the parties being separated for a minimum of 12 months. It is possible to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, despite living under the one roof (because one party has not moved out of the home).
Our Family Lawyers can assist you with making an Application for Divorce, arranging for service upon your spouse, and can appear on your behalf at the hearing, if necessary.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Wherever possible, our lawyers will use non-adversarial approaches to resolve any Family Law matter. Our aim is to finalise your matter as quickly and as amicably as possible, without compromising on quality.
Opportunities to resolve your matter through Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) exist not only before proceedings are issued but also after they have commenced.
We will advise you of your entitlements pursuant to the relevant legislation, and then provide you with ADR options appropriate to your circumstances, which may include roundtable conferences, formal mediation with an independent mediator, or simply negotiations between solicitors.
If you are attending Family Dispute Resolution, we recommend speaking with one of our Family Lawyers beforehand to understand the process, and to obtain advice as to your rights and responsibilities, so that you can make informed decisions.
If agreement is reached, DSA Law will assist in drafting the relevant documents whether they are Consent Orders, Binding Financial Agreements, Parenting Plans, Binding Child Support Agreements or a combination. In the absence of agreement, DSA will discuss your other options to reach a resolution.
Wills & Powers Of Attorney
When you marry your previous Will is no longer valid and as such if you pass away you will die intestate (without a valid Will). This means that your estate will be distributed in accordance with the relevant statutory rules, rather than in accordance with your wishes.
The only exception to this rule is if your Will was specifically drawn in contemplation of marriage.
Separation does not affect your current Will, nor does it revoke any Power of Attorney you may have granted. This means that if you were to pass away and your current Will lists your former spouse as your beneficiary, your former spouse is likely to inherit the property left to them under your Will.
It also means that your former spouse may use the Power of Attorney as permitted by law.
When you divorce, all prior wills are modified so as to invalidate any clauses that leave any gift or assets to your former partner. The modification also extends to preclude their acting as executors under the Will.
These modifications may mean that your Will does not operate as you had intended and further may lead to disputes and the requirement to retain solicitors to attempt to interpret the effect on the Will following the modifications.
If you have recently separated or are intending to seperate we strongly suggest you contact our Wills and Estate team at DSA LAW.