Our team working with you and for you
We know that separation can be an upsetting experience for everyone involved. You may feel that your former partner has wronged you or your children, and you may even feel personally at risk. It is understandable that you may be distressed and worried at this time. Separation can be a tremendously stressful time for your children. Even if there are no children dividing your property fairly is stressful and can be unpleasant for you to negotiate yourself.
Our first priority is to try and negotiate your matter for you and to keep you out of Court.
Adelaide Lawyers is here to help, and we offer a free first interview to provide you with advice regarding your legal options.
We don't charge by time but our first 30 minutes with you is FREE of charge.
To help you cope financially if times are difficult we offer Low Fixed Fees that can be paid via a payment plan or from settlement proceeds at the end of your matter.
To commence negotiations for you with your ex-partner we charge a low fixed fee of $660 to $990 including GST.
To prepare a Mediation Summary if you are attending mediation at Relationships Australia or Centacare $660 inc GST including working our some proposals and mechanisms to settle for you.
If you have agreed your settlement and require a Consent Order, we draft the Order, the accompanying Application from $1,100 to $1,650 depending on what is involved; (this includes our search costs but not the Court filing fee)
To initiate Court Proceedings we charge $1,650 including GST for all of the documents required by the Court.
Court appearances we charge a fixed fee of either $330 to $660 each (for simple Directions Hearings) to $990 each (for argument)
Binding Financial Agreement (pre-nup) from $1,650 inc GST
Application for Divorce $550 inc GST (not including Court filing fee).
Call us on (08) 7231 6000 to arrange your free consult now OR email
We first negotiate with the other side in your matter to resolve your issues and reach a settlement agreement.
We charge $330 inc GST per hour for negotiations and this is good value considering our principal lawyer was an accountant for 18 years before becoming a family lawyer. Karen has a vast knowledge of business and trust structures and values and of property matters. Karen can analyse profit and loss and balance sheets.
FILING COURT PROCEEDINGS
We can assist you in attempting to negotiate an outcome outside of Court. However, if that is not possible, or in cases of urgency, Court proceedings may be required.
As a first step in the Court process, we prepare an affidavit (explaining in legal terms the relevant factors in your relationship) along with an Initiating Application or Response, Notice of Risk, Financial Statement and Cover Letter to the Registry (in cases of urgency).
The Court requests a filing fee to lodge your paperwork. The fee can be waived you may have difficulty paying.
If your matter is urgent, we can request an urgent hearing date. Depending on the urgency of your case, the Court may list your matters within a couple of days or as much as two months later.
Before your Court date, our Process Server will personally deliver a copy of your application and affidavit on your former partner (or we will forward it to a lawyer acting on their behalf). If we cannot locate your former partner, your proceedings may be delayed. Therefore, if you are aware of a new address for your former partner, or if they have retained a lawyer, please advise us immediately.
THE NEXT STEP - INTERIM ORDERS
Ideally, the listed Court date would provide time for your matter to be argued and final orders made. However, due to Court backlogs, or it can take several months or even over a year for your matter to reach a trial hearing. The Court therefore makes ‘interim’ orders, sometimes after a short argument, which are orders largely designed to place children in a safe position until trial and provide for any urgent property matters.
In practice, only a small percentage of matters reach trial stage as many parties either accept these interim orders as final orders or reach a compromise once initial disagreements subside.
Please note that there may be several interim hearings before your matter is listed for trial. There is an opportunity, before each of those Court hearings, to reach an agreement with your former partner. Please speak to us prior to Court if you have an offer you wish us to make to your former partner or their lawyer.
If your matters have not resolved, your case will be prepared for trial. This involves the preparation of trial documents and other paperwork. A trial will usually also require you, and any witnesses, to give evidence in Court and be cross examined.
FOCUSING ON THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILDREN
The Family Law Courts are, quite rightly, most focused on the best interests of any children in any Family Law disputes. It is important, from both a legal perspective and your children’s perspective, to ensure that their needs are properly attended to during this time.
If you have children, an important step you can take for your children’s well being is to work towards an appropriate relationship with your former partner. Your relationship with your former partner has certainly changed. However, if you have children together you will likely be obliged to continue dealing with your former partner for many years until your children reach maturity. You should work towards making that relationship as civil as possible, to save yourself and your children from years of conflict.
What the appropriate relationship with your former partner should be in your particular case will depend on your circumstances. In some cases, an appropriate relationship will involve regularly and respectfully communicating with your former partner in the context of a flexible children’s contact regime. In other cases, the appropriate relationship may be more limited and you may even require physical protection. However, in every case the appropriate relationship requires you to comply with any relevant Court Orders unless there are very good reasons not to do so, and involves protecting your children from having to observe or participate in any conflict between you and your former partner. Beyond the precise wording of any Orders, the Court will also expect you to act reasonably in response to any requests your former partner may have.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I ARRIVE AT COURT?
Proceed through the metal detectors and look at the notice board for your name. This will advise you which Court your matters will be heard in. You should wait for your lawyer to arrive outside of this Court. We pride ourselves on being on time for your Court matters. If for some reason outside of our control we are delayed you can advise the Court Sheriff that you are waiting for your lawyer so that your matter is not called on. You will be asked to stand when the Judicial Officer arrives, and you will usually be asked to stand in the dock when your matter is called on. A Court Sheriff will direct you accordingly.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR TO COURT?
If your matter is going to be concluded on a particular Court date you should wear appropriate clothes. If you have a work uniform that is appropriately tidy, you can wear that work uniform. If you are not working or if your work uniform is inappropriate for Court, you should wear your best clothes. This sends the message to the Court that you take the proceedings seriously.
WILL I HAVE TO SAY ANYTHING IN COURT?
Usually not. You have retained a lawyer to put your case and speak on your behalf, which means that the Court will be focused on your lawyer. There is no need for you to make any other comments in Court, unless requested to do so. If you wish to make a comment, we suggest you attract the attention of your lawyer for that lawyer to raise the point on your behalf. This protects you from raising anything that may prejudice your case.
Note you will likely be required to give evidence in if your matter reaches the Trial stage.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
We advise our clients to delete or heavily restrict access to any social networking (Facebook, etc.) accounts in their name. Evidence from social networking posts is regularly used against parties in Family Law proceedings.
Be aware that any mobile phone texts, emails, or other communication sent to your former partner may be used against you during the Court hearings. Be careful and respectful in what you write.
Make payment of our anticipated fees at your earliest opportunity. We may be limited financially as to what we can do towards your case until our fees are paid, and we are not obliged to continue attending Court on your behalf if funds have been unpaid and outstanding.
Act reasonably towards your former partner. Note that any unreasonable behaviour, or disregard for Court Orders, will likely be raised in Court against you.
Recognise that, wherever possible, children have a right to know and have a relationship with both their parents. It is rare for the court to order that one parent should have no contact with their children, and you should not anticipate the Court making such an order.
It is important for your children’s sake to maintain a relationship that is as amicable as possible with your former partner. Although this is not always possible, child behavioural research has consistently shown that acrimonious relationships between separated parents are not good for children.
Do not denigrate your former partner to the children.
Except when required by the court, you should not discuss the legal proceedings with your children. Certainly, children should not be asked or persuaded to take sides in the proceedings.
Wherever possible, work towards agreement with your former partner on issues regarding your children. It is better if you can come to an agreement yourselves than have a stranger (that is, a judge) force a position on you. There is an opportunity before each court hearing to reach an agreement without the need for court involvement.
If you are concerned that your former partner may attempt to apply for a passport for your child without consent, we advise that you contact the Australian Passport Office to lodge a Child Alert Request. A Child Alert Request will prevent the issuing of an Australian passport (but not a passport of another country) to your child. The appropriate form can be obtained from the Australian Passport Office by calling 131-232 or online at https://www.passports.gov.au.
Child Airport Watch Orders, which provide additional protection, can also be made by the Court. These Orders, when properly enforced, place a stop on children from boarding an aircraft.
Please talk with Adelaide Lawyers immediately if you have a concern that your former partner may be intending to abscond with a child overseas, as urgent Court Orders may be required.
INTERVENTION (RESTRAINING) ORDERS
If you are concerned that your former partner is an immediate risk to you or children in your care, you should attend your nearest Police Station to apply for a restraining order. Before you go, make a list of the behaviours that concern you and the times and dates they happened. Note that Police only act on incidents within the last 6 months. Bring any Family Court Orders with you that you may have, and advise police if your former partner may have access to firearms.
If Police are unwilling to act, ask to be referred to the Child and Family Investigation Unit in your area. If Police are still unwilling to act, there is a facility to lodge an application for a private restraining orders and Adelaide Lawyers can assist you in that regard.
Note that an application for property division or settlement in a family law court may be made no later than 12 months after the divorce becomes final. A late application can only be made with special permission of the court.
If you reach an agreement with your former partner about dividing property, you should record that agreement as a consent order of the Court or in a certified Binding Financial Agreement.
Failure to properly draw up your division of assets may result in legal uncertainty regarding the ownership of your property. You may remain liable for future claims, and also for stamp duty when you transfer property from or to your former partner. This can often be avoided if a legally recognized separation agreement is entered in to.
COUNSELLING AND SUPPORT
There are a number of organisations that we strongly encourage you – or your children – to contact for further assistance.
· Kid’s Helpline 1800-55-1800
· Mensline Australia 1300-789-978
· Lifeline 131-114
· Grandparents for Grandchildren SA (08) 8212-1937
· Child Abuse Report Line 131-478
· Family Relationships Advice Line 1800-050-321
· Child Support Help Line 8463-3576
· Police 131-333 or 000 (emergency)
· Family Law Courts 1300-352-000
In addition, the KidsAreFirst Children’s Groups – Banana Splitz (5-12 years) and Making a Difference (13-17 years) are designed specifically to assist children and young people following parental separation. These groups help children meet other young people who are going through a similar experience. For more information, contact KidsAreFirst on 8301-4200.
Prior to our Adelaide Lawyers commencing to act for you, we will provide you with a no-obligation quote for our fees. If you wish for us to act for you, you are required to make this payment into our Statutory Trust Account which we then draw down to cover our expenses. If you are unable to make immediate payment of the full amount, we require that you make a retainer payment and enter into a time payment agreement for payment of the balance before we can commence acting for you. Failure to comply with any time payment agreement may result in us withdrawing from your file.
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