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Family Law


Expert family law advice in Melbourne and regional Victoria

Doyle’s Guide widely acknowledges MDW’s dedicated family and relationship law team as a leading firm in Melbourne. We’re renowned for our commitment to securing practical and sensible solutions in complex financial disputes and intricate parenting and child support issues.

At the heart of our approach is a deep empathy and a commitment to prioritising our clients’ needs. From the outset, you will receive pragmatic advice tailored to your unique situation, alongside direct and efficient communication from your dedicated lawyer. As dedicated family lawyers in Victoria, our wealth of expertise and experience empowers our clients to find early, cost-effective resolutions. While we champion early dispute resolution to avoid unnecessary conflict, our team is also prepared to take decisive action when it’s in your best interest.

Premium Family Law Services

We offer family law services in the following areas:

Property Settlements

In property settlements, we offer a refined approach that navigates the division of assets and liabilities following a separation or divorce. We tailor our strategy to safeguard your interests, ensuring a just and equitable distribution and securing your financial legacy.

Children’s Arrangements

We approach children’s arrangements with utmost sensitivity and a focus on the children’s welfare. We strive for resolutions that honour the wellbeing and best interests of the children, facilitating thoughtful agreements on living arrangements, visitation rights, and parental responsibilities.

De Facto Relationships

As trusted family solicitors in Melbourne, our expertise extends to the nuanced area of de facto relationships, providing legal clarity and protection for couples outside the bounds of traditional marriage. We deliver expert advice on property division, financial entitlements, and the intricacies of separation.

Same Sex Relationships

We provide bespoke legal services for same-sex couples, navigating the unique aspects of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships. Our comprehensive support covers property settlements, children’s arrangements, and the amicable resolution of relationship dissolution.

Financial Agreements

Financial agreements, such as prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, are pivotal in managing and protecting your financial interests and assets. Our meticulous drafting, reviewing, and enforcement services shield your assets in any relationship outcome.

Child Support

Child support is a pivotal aspect of ensuring the wellbeing of children post-separation or divorce. We offer guidance through the assessment process, advocating for arrangements that accurately reflect the child’s needs and the fairness expected by all parties.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance addresses the need for financial support following a relationship breakdown, particularly when there is a disparity in financial resources. Our negotiation expertise aims to secure equitable maintenance arrangements, balancing fairness with the realities of each partner’s circumstances.

Asset Protection and Strategic Planning

For high-net-worth individuals, asset protection and strategic planning are paramount. As trustworthy family law attorneys in Melbourne, our advice aims to safeguard your financial interests and wealth across all phases of marital or relationship disputes. We focus on minimising exposure to financial risks and ensuring your prosperity is preserved for the future.

Family Law FAQs

Am I in a de facto relationship?

De facto relationships are characterised by partners living together on a genuine domestic basis without being legally married. Indicators of such a relationship include:

  • The duration of your partnership
  • Shared living arrangements
  • The presence of a sexual relationship
  • Financial interdependence or dependence
  • Joint asset ownership
  • Mutual commitment to a shared life
  • Parenting responsibilities
  • Public perception of your relationship

Importantly, you may still be recognised as being in a de facto relationship even if one partner is legally married to someone else.

Under the Family Law Act, the court may intervene for property division or spousal maintenance provided certain criteria are met, including the relationship’s duration, children’s involvement, substantial contributions by a partner, or registration under state or territory laws.

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?

Prenuptial agreements, commonly referred to as prenups, are legal contracts made before marriage or cohabitation. They detail how assets will be distributed should the relationship dissolve. Given their significant implications, these agreements require meticulous drafting to ensure enforceability and protect against unfairness. It is crucial to seek independent legal counsel before entering into such agreements.

How do I get a Divorce?

In Australia, initiating a divorce requires applying to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA). The irretrievable breakdown of marriage, demonstrated by at least a 12-month separation period, is a prerequisite. Valid proof of marriage and, in cases involving children, evidence of adequate care arrangements are also necessary.

What should I consider when making arrangements for the children after separation?

Post-separation, the paramount concern is the children’s welfare. Australian family law prioritises their best interests in deciding living and visitation arrangements, adhering to the principle of equal parental responsibility. The children may live with both parties equally or live with one parent and spend time with the other.

This arrangement ensures that both parents are involved in key decisions affecting their children’s lives (unless there are good reasons not to, for example, concerns about the safety of the children or family violence). A family lawyer in Mornington, Williamstown, and other Melbourne areas can assist with making arrangements.

What is spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance involves financial support (regular payments or a lump sum) from one partner to another post-separation, catering to living expenses when there’s a marked disparity in earning capacities. Both married couples and de facto partners can apply for spousal maintenance.

Eligibility hinges on demonstrable financial need and the other partner’s ability to contribute. A court’s assessment considers various factors, including each partner’s financial circumstances, earning capacities, and responsibilities towards children.

What is the mediation or alternative dispute resolution process in family law cases?

Mediation is a cornerstone of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in family law, aiming to resolve disputes over parenting arrangements and financial settlements without court intervention. The journey begins with an initial consultation. During this session, the mediator, a neutral third party, outlines the rules and sets clear expectations for all parties involved. This step ensures everyone understands the process and is prepared for the discussions ahead.

ADR encompasses various methods, including negotiation through lawyers and collaborative practice, tailored to the parties’ unique needs.

How does collaborative law differ from traditional litigation in family law cases?

Collaborative law departs from traditional litigation, fostering a constructive, less adversarial approach to resolving family law issues. This method prioritises mutual respect and cooperation, focusing on achieving amicable solutions that benefit children’s welfare.

This process is often more successful than traditional litigation. Its emphasis on cooperation, communication, and constructive problem-solving paves the way for more sustainable and positive outcomes for families navigating the complexities of separation or divorce.

What legal protections are available for individuals in same-sex marriages or de-facto relationships?

Australia’s legal framework offers comprehensive protections for same-sex marriages and de-facto relationships, ensuring equal rights and recognition under the law. This includes marriage equality, recognition of overseas marriages, and equivalent protections for de-facto partners, underpinned by a strong commitment to human rights and equality.

What are the legal implications of cultural diversity in family law cases?

The Australian legal system acknowledges the need to understand and recognise the varied cultural definitions of “family.” This recognition is crucial in ensuring the law adequately addresses the unique family dynamics in different cultures.

It underscores the importance of inclusivity, respect, and equality for individuals from all cultural backgrounds, ensuring everyone’s rights are protected under the law.

The ongoing diversification of Australian society means that the legal system must remain flexible and responsive.

What recent changes or updates in family law legislation have occurred, and how might they impact my case?

The Family Law Amendment Act 2023 introduces crucial reforms to enhance protections against family violence, emphasising the safety and wellbeing of individuals in family law proceedings. These changes, effective from May 6, 2024, signify a pivotal shift towards a more protective legal stance in cases involving family violence.

What is the significance of the Family Law Act in family law matters?

The Family Law Act stands as a pivotal legislation governing divorce, child custody, property division, and family violence implications.

Here’s a closer look at its key aspects:

  1. Divorce: The Act introduces a no-fault divorce system, where the only ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, evidenced by 12 months of separation.
  2. Child Custody: Central to the Act is the welfare of children. When determining custody arrangements, the child’s best interests are paramount, focusing on the child’s wellbeing and safety above all else.
  3. Property Division: The Act provides comprehensive guidelines for the equitable division of property between separating spouses, aiming to achieve fair outcomes for both parties.
  4. Family Violence: With an emphasis on protecting individuals from harm, the Act addresses the impact of family violence on family law cases, reinforcing the importance of safety and wellbeing in legal considerations.

Its recent amendments, particularly concerning family violence, demonstrate an ongoing commitment to safeguarding individuals’ welfare and promoting equitable outcomes in family law matters. As longstanding Melbourne family lawyers, the MDW team can help you understand how the Family Law Act affects your case.

What factors are considered when creating a parenting plan?

A parenting plan’s development considers the child’s age, parents’ geographical proximity, educational commitments, safety concerns, and extended family involvement. These considerations ensure a plan that supports the child’s development and wellbeing while being practical and feasible for both parents.

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