Family

We Help...

  • When your relationship breaks down you need an accessible lawyer with the experience to achieve the best possible outcome in a supportive environment.
  • We offer tailored solutions and expert advice for your unique circumstances.
  • We help you to move forward.

We Understand...

  • That a relationship breakdown is likely to be the most difficult situation that you have faced.
  • That you need a reliable lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced.
  • We respect your unique circumstances and work towards a result that will allow you and your family to begin again.

 

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We Do...

Divorce

Separating from your spouse/partner can be traumatic and cause much uncertainty. Our team of Accredited Family Law Specialists have extensive experience to assist you through the changes in your circumstances, whether they be financial and/or parenting related. We will guide you through the process and explain your rights and responsibilities in a way that is understandable, and without complicated legal jargon. 

Frequently Asked Questions

DO I NEED A LAWYER TO APPLY FOR A DIVORCE?

If you wish to apply for a divorce without the assistance of a lawyer, ‘divorce kits’ are available from the Family Law Courts. If you would prefer to have a lawyer prepare and lodge the application on your behalf we are happy to assist. Sometimes people prefer to use a lawyer for divorce applications, particularly if there are potential difficulties.

We recommend that you obtain legal advice prior to applying for a divorce so that you are aware of how a divorce order may impact on your entitlements with respect to property division, spousal maintenance and/or your Will.

WHAT IS AN ANNULMENT?

An Annulment is not a divorce. It is a declaration by the Court that the marriage was not a legal marriage. Therefore the marriage is void. Annulments are extremely rare as they may be granted only if:

  • You were forced, coerced or tricked into the marriage;
  • You or your partner were under 18 year of age at the time of the marriage;
  • You did not understand that the ceremony you took part in was a wedding ceremony;
  • Your partner was already married and not legally divorced at the time of the wedding;              
  • Your partner is a close relative such as a sibling, parent, grandparent or child.

HOW IS PROPERTY DIVIDED IF I HAVE BEEN IN A DE FACTO RELATIONSHIP?

As with married couples, the provisions of the Family Law Act also apply to people who have been in a de facto relationship and separated on or after 1 March 2009.

An application for property division must be made within two years from the date of separation. Otherwise permission to apply out of time must first be obtained from the Court.

The definition of what constitutes a de facto relationship is broad. If you are uncertain whether your relationship falls within the definition please contact one of our family lawyers today.

WHAT ABOUT SAME SEX RELATIONSHIPS?

The definition of a de facto relationship includes gay and lesbian relationships as well as heterosexual relationships.

DO I NEED TO CHANGE MY WILL IF I SEPARATE?

Separating from your spouse or partner will not automatically remove them as a beneficiary of your Will. Many couples make Wills which leave some or all of their estate to their partner. If you no longer wish for your partner to inherit from your estate it is important to change your Will.

WHEN CAN I CHANGE MY WILL?

You can change your Will at any time. If you are separated you can change your Will to reflect your new circumstances or in anticipation of your divorce. It is very important that your Will reflects your current intentions and it should be reviewed after any significant life event.

DO I STILL NEED TO CHANGE MY WILL IF MY PARTNER WASN’T A BENEFICIARY?

Even if your partner was not expressly listed as a beneficiary under your old Will it is preferable to create a new Will after separation to ensure that your intentions are clear.

HOW DO I CHANGE MY WILL?

The easiest way to change your Will is to make a new one. You can purchase a Will kit from most post offices, which contains a guide to preparing a Will. If you choose to write your own Will, it is important to take note of all of the technical elements required to make a Will valid. If your Will is invalid, your estate will be distributed as if the invalid Will did not exist.

We recommend having a lawyer prepare your Will to ensure that it is valid and legally binding. Your lawyer may also be able to safely store your Will for you. We recommend that you obtain legal advice before preparing a Will.


Property division

Knowing where you stand in relation to asset division is a concern that most people have when experiencing a relationship breakdown. Every situation is different. Whilst there is no “one size fits all” answer, we have the expertise to provide quality advice on your property and spousal maintenance rights and obligations. Getting realistic advice early on is key to minimizing stress and costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

IT IS IMPORTANT TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE BEFORE FINALISING A SETTLEMENT.

HOW ARE ASSETS DIVIDED?

The outcome in each case will be different depending on the particular circumstances of the couple involved. The Family Law Act sets out a number of steps to be taken in determining how the assets of a separated couple should be divided.

In broad terms the steps involve:

  1. Identifying and valuing all of the assets, financial resources and debts of the parties. Each party is required to disclose their financial circumstances. Where the value of any asset is uncertain, or if the parties do not agree on the value, an expert opinion is sought.
  2. Assessing the contributions each party has made toward the acquisition of the assets. Contributions are broadly defined and include not only financial contributions, but also contributions as a homemaker and parent.
  3. A consideration of matters is set out in section 75(2) of the Family Law Act. These include factors such as discrepancies in income, earning potential or expenses associated with caring for children. 
  4. Examining the findings and determining if the overall result is "just and equitable".

WHAT HAPPENS IF ONE OF US HAD SIGNIFICANT ASSETS BEFORE THE RELATIONSHIP?

Pre-relationship assets are taken into account when assessing the respective contributions of the parties. If these contributions are significant they may impact the overall division of the assets after separation. How the pre-relationship assets were used and the length of the relationship will also be relevant considerations.

HOW CAN AN AGREEMENT ABOUT PROPERTY DIVISION BE MADE BINDING?

If you and your former partner/spouse are able to reach an agreement about resolving financial issues (whether this is done between you or with the assistance of lawyers), the agreement can be properly documented as a legally enforceable settlement. This is acheived either by way of a “consent order” or a “binding financial agreement”. It is important to obtain independent legal advice about whether the proposed agreement is just and equitable under family law legislation.

WHAT IF WE CAN’T AGREE ON A PROPERTY SETTLEMENT?

Attempts to resolve property issues can be made by way of mediation, solicitor-based negotiation and/or round table conferences. Where negotiation is unsuccessful, either party is able to make an application to the Family Law Courts for orders about property division and/or spousal maintenance.

Such applications must be made within 12 months of a divorce order being made, or in the case of de facto relationships, within two years of the date of separation. After these time limits expire, a party must seek permission from the Court before they can proceed with their application.

It is important to note that even when court proceedings are commenced, the vast majority of cases settle prior to being determined by the Court.

SHOULD I TRY MEDIATION?

For some separated couples mediation can be very useful. We recommend that you obtain independent legal advice prior to and after mediation. We can also provide you with a list of mediation centres in your area.

CAN I DO A ‘PRE-NUP’?

A binding financial agreement (BFA) can be made prior to and even during a marriage or de facto relationship. The BFA can stipulate how assets will be dealt with in the event that separation occurs. Prior to entering into a BFA, each party must receive independent legal advice.


Children's issues

 When a relationship breakdown involves children, you need a lawyer that is experienced in parenting matters and understands the impact that separation can have on children. Our lawyers handle parenting matters with sensitivity and compassion.

Frequently Asked Questions

PARENTS ARE ENCOURAGED TO REACH AGREEMENT ABOUT ARRANGEMENTS FOR THEIR CHILDREN.

HOW ARE PARENTING ARRANGEMENTS MADE?

Parents are encouraged to reach agreement about arrangements for their children. Where parents have difficulty coming to an agreement, the first step is usually to attend mediation with a family dispute resolution practitioner.

We recommend obtaining legal advice prior to attending mediation. We can provide you with a list of family dispute practitioners in your area. Agreements about parenting arrangements can be documented in a parenting plan or a consent order. However, only the latter is legally enforceable and binding.

Either party can apply to the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court for parenting orders, however it is usually a prerequisite to have attended mediation first. There are exceptions to this requirement, such as cases of urgency or family violence.

In determining parenting arrangements the Court treats the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration.

Our experienced family lawyers can assist you in negotiating parenting arrangements and, where necessary, in applying to the Court for parenting orders. We can advise you as to the most appropriate steps to take in resolving your particular case.

WHAT IF MY SITUATION IS URGENT?

In some situations it is necessary for urgent applications to be made and listed for hearing very quickly. For example, where the safety of a child is at risk. We can advise you about such applications if you have urgent concerns about the wellbeing of your child.

WHAT RIGHTS DO GRANDPARENTS HAVE?

Pursuant to the Family Law Act not only parents can seek parenting orders. Children have the right to spend time with other people, such as grandparents, who are important to their care, welfare and development.

We have extensive experience representing grandparents in ensuring that they maintain contact with their grandchildren following a relationship breakdown between the parents.

CAN I RELOCATE INTERSTATE OR OVERSEAS WITH MY CHILDREN?

If the other parent objects to you moving an application to relocate must be made to the Court. The Court takes into account many factors in determining the matter, with the best interests of the children being paramount.

Our family lawyers have vast experience representing parents seeking to move, as well as parents objecting to proposed relocations.

I AM WORRIED ABOUT MY CHILDREN BEING TAKEN OUT OF AUSTRALIA WITHOUT MY CONSENT

We can advise and assist in obtaining a Court order that places the children on the Airport Watch List and, where appropriate, requires the children’s passports to be held by the Court.

We can also assist you in making a Child Alert Request with the Australian Passport Office so that you are contacted in the event that a passport application for a child is lodged without your consent.


Child support

Child support refers to the financial support of children following a relationship breakdown. We offer expert advice in relation to all aspects of child support including administrative assessments, review/appeals, private agreements and lump sum child support.

Frequently Asked Questions

THE EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL WELFARE OF CHILDREN IS PARAMOUNT

WHAT IS CHILD SUPPORT?

Child support refers to payments made for the financial support of children. It is usually paid by way of regular cash payments from one parent to the other. Child support can sometimes include non-periodic payments such as private school fees or health insurance premiums.

Child support is usually payable until the child/ren reach the age of 18 years, or complete secondary school.

HOW IS THE AMOUNT OF CHILD SUPPORT DETERMINED?

An application for a child support assessment can be made online via the Department of Human Services website. A formula is used to determine how much child support is payable. The formula takes into account various factors such as the number of children and the income earned by each parent.

CAN WE MAKE OUR OWN CHILD SUPPORT ARRANGEMENTS?

Yes. Parents are able to make their own agreement about how much child support should be paid. We have extensive experience in negotiating and preparing child support agreements. We can advise you about the different types of child support agreements, and which one is most appropriate for you. The existence of a child support agreement can impact on your family tax benefit entitlement and we can advise you in this regard.

ADULT CHILD MAINTENANCE - WHAT HAPPENS AFTER CHILDREN TURN 18?

An application to the Family Law Courts for maintenance can be made by a child who is over 18 years (or by a parent of the child) if maintenance is required to enable the adult child to complete his/her tertiary education, or in circumstances where the adult child has a mental or physical disability.

We can advise and assist you in relation to seeking adult child maintenance, or in defending an application.


Spousal maintenance

In some situations there is an obligation to financially support a former spouse/partner after separation. It is important to obtain advice early on as to whether you have any rights or obligations in relation to spousal maintenance. Our family law specialists can assist with all aspects of spousal maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE?

Spousal maintenance refers to payments made by one partner/spouse to assist the other partner/spouse with meeting the costs of living. Spousal maintenance is different to child support, as the latter relates to payments made for the maintenance of children.

There is no automatic entitlement to spousal maintenance. A party can apply for spousal maintenance within 12 months of the date of a divorce. In the case of a de facto relationship this is within two years from the date of separation. If these deadlines have passed, an application for spousal maintenance can only be made if leave (or permission) is granted by the Court.

To successfully seek spousal maintenance, the Court must be satisfied that the person applying for spousal maintenance has a need for financial support, and also that the other partner/spouse has a capacity to pay.

Spousal maintenance can take the form of regular payments over a certain period of time, or in kind payments such as mortgage or car loan payments. Sometimes spousal maintenance is paid as a once-off lump sum.

We can advise you about possible spousal maintenance entitlements or obligations you may have. We can also advise you about the prospects of an application to seek spousal maintenance if the deadline has passed.


Grandparents' rights

Whilst there is no automatic right for grandparents to spend time with their grandchildren, the law acknowledges the importance of children having a relationship with their grandparents. We have experience representing grandparents and can provide you with expert advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT RIGHTS DO GRANDPARENTS HAVE?

Pursuant to the Family Law Act not only parents can seek parenting orders. Children have the right to spend time with other people, such as grandparents, who are important to their care, welfare and development.

We have extensive experience representing grandparents in ensuring that they maintain contact with their grandchildren following a relationship breakdown between the parents.


Defacto relationships

Family law legislation treats de facto couples the same as married couples. De facto couples can also enter into binding cohabitation agreements before or during their relationship.  The Family Law Act defines de facto relationships broadly and there are important time limits to be aware of. Our family lawyers have extensive experience in de facto matters.


Same sex relationships

We acknowledge the unique issues faced by same sex couples. We have the expertise and experience to advise and represent same sex partners in all aspects of family law, including parenting and financial matters.


Our Family Lawyers

Tim Robinson

Accredited Specialist - Family Law & Commercial Litigation

Adele Katzew

Accredited Specialist - Family Law

Christine Cowin

Accredited Specialist - Family Law

Richard Bartram

Accredited Specialist - Family Law

Jessica Caldwell

Accredited Specialist - Family Law

Sarah Grant

Family Law, Disputes

Kate Wild

Family Law

Cecilia Wei

Family Law

Client Testimonials

"Adele Katzew worked hard to achieve an excellent result for me and treated me with compassion during that difficult time."

"I found Adele to be very professional and willing to and fight for what I deserve. I was very happy with the work she did and how she engaged with me personally. Both Sue and the receptionist were also very compassionate and helpful.…"

Julie

"What most impressed me with dealing with Robinson Gill is the absolute commitment to achieving the best possible outcome for the client. All discussions and decisions are based on this big picture approach.…"

We can help

Our team of lawyers provide expert advice, with most holding Law Institute of Victoria Specialist Accreditation in the areas of Family Law, Personal Injury Law and/or Commercial Litigation.

  • All initial consultations are obligation free.
  • At Robinson Gill Lawyers you speak to a lawyer.
  • Call us to help you 03 9890 332103 9890 3321 or 1800 745 3421800 745 342.
  • Fax us 03 9898 426603 9898 4266.
  • Send us an enquiry.
  • In two convenient locations:
    701 Station Street, Box Hill (Head Office)
    Level 40/140 William Street, Melbourne
Speak to a Lawyer call
03 9890 332103 9890 3321
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