Our experienced Family Law lawyers aim to
minimise the emotional and financial effects of
Having a well informed, dedicated and compassionate legal team on your side can help you make the right decisions and provide the knowledge needed to protect you and your family.
As you would expect from one of Victoria’s leading Family Law Firms, our Family Law practice is headed by one of Victoria’s best qualified experts, and backed by a team of leading professionals.
Importantly, the practice is available from most of our offices, making it convenient and responsive to your needs.
A comprehensive Family Law practice
We can assist you in all areas of Family Law, including:
- Division of property following the breakdown of your relationship
- Spousal maintenance
- Protecting your assets at the commencement of or during your relationship
- Parenting arrangements for your children
- Child support
At Ryan Carlisle Thomas, we aim to give you the best legal advice while keeping a lid on unnecessary legal fees.
Family Law advice – Custody Issues
Ryan Carlisle Thomas Family law lawyer Suzanne Stewart offers advice on the Family Law Courts, custody issues and your children’s rights.
Family Law advice – Property Settlements
Ryan Carlisle Thomas Family law lawyer Suzanne Stewart answers common questions on property and divorce.
Commonly asked questions
Yes. It is called mediation and involves the parties sitting down together with their lawyers and an independent person, called a "Mediator", to discuss the issues in dispute. Mediation can be very successful but it does require full and frank disclosure and good faith bargaining between the parties.
Definitely. Our aim is to ensure that your property matter is resolved quickly and amicably and without either party having to apply to Court. In most cases, we can help our clients to obtain a property settlement by negotiation with their former partner or lawyer.
Once an agreement has been reached, it is important that it is formalised in writing. This can be achieved by way of Consent Orders which are signed by both parties and filed with the Family Court, or a Binding Financial Agreement, which is a private agreement made under the Family Law Act 1975.
Unfortunately, negotiations are not always successful and it can become necessary to issue proceedings in Court.
Court proceedings are commenced when you, or your partner, file an Inititating Application with the Court, essentially asking the Court to decide how the property will be divided. The person applying to the Court is called the Applicant and their spouse or partner is called the Respondent. The Applicant is also required to file a Financial Statement, disclosing their income, expenditure, assets and liabilities and an Affidavit, setting out the reasons why they are asking the Court to make the orders contained in their Initiating Application. If the proceedings are only in relation to children's matters, a Financial Statement is not required.
Once the Initiating Application has been filed, the Court will allocate a hearing date. We call this date the "First Return Date". The Initiating Application will be served on the Respondent and they will in turn be required to prepare and file a Response, a Financial Statement and an Affidavit.
On the First Return Date, both parties along with their solicitor or barrister, will attend Court. There is an expectation that the parties will try to negotiate a settlement before their matter is heard in Court. If agreement can be reached, Final Orders will be made on the day.
In children's matters, if no agreement can be reached on the First Return Date, the Court will make interim orders about who the children will live with and spend time with. The matter will then be adjourned for a further hearing and a Family Report may be ordered. Depending on the circumstances, if the parties are unable to reach agreement at the adjourned hearing, the matter will be set down for a Final Hearing and both parties will be required to file further documentation with the Court.
In financial matters, if no agreement can be reached, the matter will be adjourned for a "Conciliation Confererence". This is a roundtable conference with a Registrar of the Court. The Registrar assists the parties to resolve the issues in dispute and reach agreement about the division of property. If agreement is reached, Final Orders can be made on that day.
If the parties fail to reach agreement at the Conciliation Conference, the matter is then adjourned for a further Court hearing. At the adjourned hearing, the matter will be set down for a Final Hearing and both parties will be ordered to file further documentation.
The decision to seek legal advice can be difficult to make but, from a legal perspective, it is important that you seek advice about your rights and obligations as soon as possible. Following the breakdown of your relationship, you will have a lot of decisions to make, some you may find challenging. In our experience, we find that getting advice early on about where you stand legally can help to ensure that you make the right decisions for both you and your family.
No. The division of assets following the breakdown of a relationship is determined in accordance with a four-step process. Firstly, we calculate the value of the net pool of assets, as this is what will ultimately be divided between the parties.
Secondly, we assess the contributions that have been made by each party during the relationship, taking into account both financial and non-financial contributions.
The third step is to identify the needs of both parties going into the future. Relevant considerations include whether either party has a child or children living with them, the parties' health and their respective earning capacities. The final step is to ensure that the division of property is fair in all the circumstances.
Call or find us at an office near you to arrange a free and confidential appointment with one of our Family Law solicitors.