Legal Solutions to get your life in order
Determining how the children are to be cared for, where and with whom they live can be one of the most sensitive matters to be dealt with in separation. Having children together remains a common bond post separation, even when financial matters have been finalised.
We can help you with:
• Advice prior to negotiations or mediation about how the separation is managed.
• Formalising agreements to make decisions legally binding.
• Assisting with preparations if orders need to be made via a court proceeding.
In determining what orders should be made with respect to children the court considers their best interests. This means allowing the children to have a meaningful and substantial relationship with both parents provided it is safe and practicable to do so. Although the court must consider making orders for the children to spend equal time with both parents, they will not do so where it is considered impracticable, particularly where the parents are unable to work together or there is domestic violence.
The courts only order equal shared time in a small number of cases. If you think that equal shared time is in the best interests of your children and seek such orders, it would be best if you engaged a law firm that shared your belief. You should consider engaging the Starkie Law Group to be your lawyers.
We are also experienced with children’s matters that can arise years after separation, such as relocation or choice of schools.
If you die before you make a Will your property and possessions are distributed according to the laws of the day. That may mean that your estate goes to someone you would not choose, including the government. It may also mean that the people who are the most important to you miss out on getting the financial support that they need after you have gone.
We invite you to use our online Will service at https://wills.starkielaw.com.au
Why Use Us?
• Using our online portal is cost effective. You can work on your Will in your own time, and at your own pace without paying hourly legal fees.
• We are a law firm. We know the law. We can witness and store your Will. Using a law firm can reduce the risk of having your Will challenged.
How Does it Work?
• Log into our portal and simply answer the questions, using the information provided to gain advice and explanations at each stage. You can save drafts of the Will as you go and complete it when convenient.
• There is an option to make a "Couples Will" if you want to write "Mirror Will" (i.e. the details are the same so all you need is to swap your names over on a second draft instead of re-writing the whole Will).
When you are ready to finalise the Will, you will have two options :
1. Pay the fee and book a meeting with Starkie Law Group to review the details and have the Will finalised, witnessed and stored.
2. Pay the fee and receive an electronic copy of the finalised Will to be witnessed by someone aged 18 and over with testamentary capacity.
If you have any problems we're here to help.
If you are considering writing a prenuptial agreement at the start of a relationship, we can help you prepare your documents.
If you have separated, you will need come to an agreement with your ex-partner about the division of your assets. If you are unable to agree you may need to obtain orders in a Family Law Court. We can help you at any stage during this process.
We can help you with:
• Advice about what a Court may consider to be a fair and equitable division of your property.
• Drafting a binding financial agreement between you and your ex-partner.
• Obtaining a court order to finalise the division of your assets.
The Family Law Courts can make property orders at any time:
• While you are still married
• Within one year of obtaining a divorce decree
• Within two years of the end of a defacto relationship
To be in a defacto relationship you must have been in the relationship for at least two years. Defacto relationships include same-sex partners.
How Property Matters are Decided
When deciding property matters the Court determines:
• What constitutes the assets of the marriage. This may require valuations and subpoenas.
• The contribution of the parties, including non-financial contributions such as caring for children or being a homemaker.
• The future needs of the parties.
• The validity of any binding financial agreement such as prenuptial agreements.
A 2007 Australian Institute of Family Studies revealed that more than half of the cases in the Family Law Courts contained allegations of family violence or child abuse. It also found that there was usually little evidentiary material to support those allegations and that unless there was good evidence, allegations did not seem to affect the outcome of trials. Prima Facie this suggests that false allegations are common place, but that the Family Law Courts can deal with them appropriately.
However, alongside the Family Law system are Family Violence Laws and Family Violence Orders (FVOs). FVOs are a means by which protection can be sought quickly for an individual and their family, with minimal or no evidence other than an allegation. Unfortunately this means that the orders are also open to abuse, and can be used as a means of unreasonably preventing contact between parents and children. The definition of Family Violence includes verbal, emotional and economic abuse, so under certain circumstances acts such sending someone flowers or raising your voice can be found to be family violence, and if done in front of your children, can be found to be family violence towards them.
If a Family Violence Order is being used to prevent you from spending time with your underage children then we usually recommend that you initiate Family Law proceedings immediately, whether you consent to the FVO or not. A Family Law order overrides a Family Violence Order. However the Magistrates Court hearing an intervention order can override a family law order, until it is heard again by a Family Law Court.
An interim Family Law Order is often made within a few months. A Family Violence hearing may not be heard for a year. Bear in mind that even if you win your FVO case, the Judge in the Magistrates Court, which deals with FVOs, does not have the jurisdiction to make an order for you to spend time with your children. However they can make an order to stop you seeing your children. For these reasons you need to channel your resources effectively.
It is critical that you get specific advice tailored to your circumstances including the pros and cons or whether or not you should consent to an FVO.
We would encourage you to contact us to discuss your matter today.
If you have been served with documents lodged in the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court relating to children or property, it is imperative that you seek legal advice and respond to the documents quickly.
Being served with an application to the Court, gives you an opportunity for to seek different orders and tell your side of the story. Being served can sometimes result in a better outcome for you than if you had not been served. For instance if you are not living in the home you shared with your ex-partner, the end result of the process will usually involve you being paid a portion of the value of the home, that may enable you to improve your living circumstances.
In children’s matters, experts will also interview you and your ex-partner and observe you interacting with your children. Depending upon the age of the children, they may also be interviewed. If one of the parties is alleging things that are not true then the court will also determine who’s story most accurately represents the truth, and make appropriate orders.
Most cases that run in the Family Law Courts do not go to trial. Pretrial procedures such as family reports, and the discovery of financial documents paint a clearer picture of what sort of orders the court is likely to make.
This is why good legal advice, evidence collection and representation is essential.
If you choose to engage our services, at our first conference we will go over the evidence and the objectives that you want to achieve.
We will provide strategic and forensic advice and work on a plan to help you to reach your goals with the minimal amount of stress.
We will collect any necessary evidence, negotiate on your behalf and organise for you to be represented in a trial if required.
Intervention Orders (IVOs, including Family Violence Orders) are court orders that prevent one person from perpetrating violence against another, including acts that are harassing and offensive and would not otherwise be criminal acts. Although they are civil remedies, the penalty for breaking Intervention Orders is criminal and they are enforced by Police. If you have been subjected to physical violence or other serious abuse and the Police have been involved, then Police will often apply for an Intervention Order on your behalf.
IVOs typically prevent the respondent from approaching you or your property and can include other prohibitions such as preventing others posting material about you or your family on social media. If you have been subjected to harassing and erratic behaviour, we can apply for an IVO on your behalf, or on behalf of your underage children, if the Police have not already done so. We can also advise you on how to do it yourself.
At the Starkie Law Group we understand that both men and women can be both victims and perpetrators of abuse.