Since the firm was established in 1998, we have dealt with all manner of family law issues for Gold Coast, Brisbane and interstate clients. We are used to dealing with any questions you have relating to your family law matter.
Questions may relate to a broad range of issues including:
- Financial matters.
- Parenting disputes.
- Spousal maintenance.
- Child support.
- Adult child maintenance.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
No. A parent should not unilaterally change a child’s name without the consent of the other parent.
If you change your child’s surname without consulting the other parent, there is a risk that the other parent will make an application to the Court. This could result in an adverse Costs Order against you.
If there is a reason why the child’s name should be changed the best option is to seek the agreement of the other party or apply to the Family Court or Federal Magistrates Court for a Court Order.
There is no ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this question. It depends upon the age and maturity of the child. There is no specific age at which the Court will listen to the child’s views. It depends on each particular situation.
Yes. The Family Law Act 1975 specifically provides that children have a right to spend time on a regular basis with their parents and other significant people in their lives unless it is not in their best interests.
At Evans Brandon Family Lawyers at Bundall on the Gold Coast, we have acted in a number of matters where we have applied to the Family Court of Australia on behalf of grandparents and third parties who are not the parents of a child.
Parental responsibility is defined by the Family Law Act 1975 as being duties that parents have to their children and the important decisions that they must make about their children.
Until a Court Order is made, each parent has equal shared parental responsibility.
The Family Law Act 1975 sets out a number of different considerations which are taken into account by the Family Court or Federal Magistrates Court in parenting matters. The overall consideration is of course what is in the best interests of a child.
The Court takes into account what are known as primary and additional considerations to determine what is in the best interests of a child.
Primary considerations include:
- The benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child’s parents.
- The need to protect the child from harm or being subjected to or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence. The Court must give greater weight to this consideration.
Additional considerations include:
- Any views expressed by the child, taking into account the child’s maturity.
- The child’s relationship with each parent and any other person who is important.
- The effect on the child of any changes in arrangements for the child including separating siblings from each other.
- The capacity of each parent to provide for the needs of the child.
- The attitudes of each parent to the child to the responsibilities of parenting.
We strongly recommend the use of parenting orders to document any agreement reached in respect of the children. You can also enter a Parenting Plan. A Parenting Plan does not create a legal obligation between the parents. A Parenting Plan can be considered by the Court in any later Court proceedings.
At Evans Brandon Family Lawyers at the Gold Coast, we recommend the use of Consent Orders as the Orders are binding upon both parties and in the worst case scenario the Court can be asked to enforce the Order.
Yes, you are required to participate in Family Dispute Resolution. This is also referred to as mediation. There is an exception if your matter is urgent or involves family violence.
I have just separated and cannot agree with my husband as to living arrangements for the children. What should I do?
You should contact us to discuss your situation. We can advise you in respect to the mediation process to help you achieve an agreement.
You must make a genuine effort to resolve any parenting dispute through dispute resolution before making any application to the Court unless there are specific urgent circumstances.
If mediation fails, you will need advice as to what outcome could be expected if the matter was before the Family Court.
At Evans Brandon Family Lawyers we strive to provide clients with comprehensive advice to ensure that they are fully informed. We help you take the steps necessary to achieve a fair outcome.
After meeting with you we confirm our advice in writing. During the initial appointment there is so much information to be collected that this takes up a large portion of the interview. We will advise you normally during the initial appointment as to our general view of the matter. We will then consider the matter in greater detail and put our view in writing in greater detail.
After you receive our initial letter, you should read through the document carefully and contact us with any queries. The document will set out clearly the strategy we propose in your matter and the anticipated costs to give effect to this strategy. We have a firm rule that all initial letters are to be provided to clients within 3 days of the first appointment. This ensures that the information is fresh in our minds and gives you confidence that we will act promptly and diligently at all times.
If you do not have access to any documents, do not think that this is a huge stumbling block. We are able to request disclosure of documents, seek orders requiring disclosure and in other situations issue a subpoena to the source of the documents to circumvent a difficult party. As everything is now stored in computers, there is usually a historical record to assist in putting together any “gaps”.
If you do have financial documents, it would be helpful to bring documents and have information such as:
- A summary of initial contributions by both parties at the commencement of the relationship. Give thought to whether either of you owned a vehicle, a property, had savings and superannuation at the commencement of the relationship.
- What income did you both earn during the relationship?
- Who cared for the children?
- Were there any windfalls or inheritances during the relationship?
- Give thought to how you are going to support yourself in the future and whether one party has a superior earning capacity to the other party.
Life is complicated enough without having to deal with a breakdown in your marriage or de facto relationship.
If you are considering ending your marriage or de facto relationship, there a couple of practical things which can make the process a little easier from a legal point of view, including:-
- Attending family counseling
Before making the decision to end a marriage or de facto relationship, you may benefit from taking some therapeutic counseling with your spouse. It may be that there are no prospects of continuing the relationship, however the process may be used to discuss and reach agreement with respect to how to practically deal with the issues which arise from a breakdown in your relationship, including parenting arrangements, child support, spousal support and property settlement.
- Attend upon a legal practitioner who specialises in family law
The stress of a breakdown in your relationship can be exacerbated by not taking specialist advice. Even prior to making a decision to separate, much time, money and stress can be saved by apprising yourself of your rights and entitlements arising from the breakdown in your relationship.
- Inform yourself
Take the time to inform yourself of the financial circumstances of your marriage or de facto relationship prior to proceeding with any separation. There can be significant costs and delay in having to obtain documents and records such as bank statements, tax returns, financial statements, etc which are often kept within the family home. Prior to separating, you should take copies of any such documents, which may become vital in later property settlement negotiations/proceedings.
- Stay put
There is no legal obligation for one party to vacate the family home upon separation. Often it is an economic reality that upon spouses deciding to end a relationship, they must remain under the same roof whilst working out a financial settlement. A spouse who relocates from the family home often places themselves at a significant disadvantage tactically and economically. Of course, your safety must always be your paramount consideration.
- Social Media
Resist any temptation you may have to bad mouth or denigrate the other spouse on any social media sites. A moment’s satisfaction may cause you considerable grief and whilst it is commonsense, it is surprising how many fall foul as a result.
- Don’t wait too long
There are strict time limitations which apply in matrimonial and de facto proceedings with respect to property settlement and spousal maintenance claims. If you fail to commence legal proceedings within those time limitations, you are barred from making any such claim unless with leave of the Court.
Ideally you should seek the advice of a lawyer before taking any steps. Give consideration as to whether it is worthwhile to participate in counseling, whether individually or as a couple. If you do decide that you are ending the relationship, ensure that you have copies of any documents that provide evidence of any contributions made by you or the other party at the start of and during the relationship. Ensure that if you decide to leave the home, you take with you any items that have personal significance and would not be able to be replaced or have sentimental value. If there is a history of domestic violence, make sure you and the children are safe. Contact a lawyer, the police or the local domestic violence service at the Magistrates Court at Southport and seek immediate assistance. If you are having difficulty managing your emotions, please see your doctor and seek their assistance
You will require the consent of the other parent to obtain a Passport.
If consent is refused we can assist you in obtaining an Order from the Federal Magistrates Court that a Passport is issued so that your child is permitted to travel overseas without the consent of the other parent.