Separation and divorce are among the most stressful and challenging events that people experience in their lives. Emotions run high at a time when several important financial decisions need to be made.
However, if prepared with the correct information, the process can be smoother and less stressful for all involved.
There are several legal considerations to be kept in mind when people are assessing how separation and divorce will change their lives and their financial futures.
Owen Hodge Lawyers is hosting a free family law seminar on Wednesday 24th of June 2015, focussing on separation and divorce. The seminar will be held at Owen Hodge Lawyers Sydney office and commences at 6pm.
Experienced family law solicitor Laura Gardiner will be exploring the important legal issues that need to be considered in the event of a relationship breakdown.
The seminar will run for one hour and address the following Family Law issues:
Divorce and Separation
De Facto Relationships
Property and Asset Division
The Process of Court Proceedings
This free, friendly and obligation-free information night is a great opportunity for those who are experiencing or anticipating divorce to learn about the legal process of separation.
For more information about the seminar visit: http://www.owenhodge.com.au/free-family-law-seminar-surviving-your-separation-and-divorce/
Owen Hodge Lawyers provide expert Family Law services to clients across the Sydney metropolitan and surrounding areas. They are dedicated to ensuring clients get the best possible outcome and that their individual needs are met. www.owenhodge.com.au
Question: Why is divorce often the most stressful and challenging event for someone?
Laura Gardiner: When relationships break down the process can be very painful. When you couple a time of high emotion with the need to reach agreement and put plans in place around children and property, the process and results can seem overwhelming.
Question: How can you help Australians survive separation and divorce?
Laura Gardiner: By helping take care of the planning process, we aim to ease the pressure on people already under significant strain. We help people identify, reach agreement and put plans in place around parenting, custody arrangements, and the division of property and assets.
Question: What is the difference between separation and divorce?
Laura Gardiner: Before an application for divorce can be filed, parties to the marriage must have been separated for a period of 12 months. In most cases this involves both parties ceasing to live together. In cases where the couple has continued to live together while separated, written evidence must be submitted by either or both parties as well as a third party to verify that the couple was in fact separated while living under the same roof.
Question: How do the rules change when children are involved in a separation and divorce?
Laura Gardiner: When a couple who have children separate or divorce, there are several issues they will need to consider. Deciding on children's living arrangements and the amount of time children spend with parents and other family members is critical. There may also be other considerations to keep in mind. Ultimately, the court needs to be satisfied that arrangements are in the best interests of the children.
Question: Is it important for a couple to reach an agreement prior to processing their divorce?
Laura Gardiner: The separation process gives couples an opportunity to try to reach agreement. There is no requirement, however, that couples must have resolved property and parenting disputes prior to a divorce being granted. When there are children under 18 years old, a court must be satisfied that there are arrangements in place for their care, though final custody arrangements need not be in place yet.
It is important to note that once a divorce order is made it triggers an important time limit. Either party to a marriage has only 12 months from the date the divorce order is made to make an application to the court for property orders in respect of the division of matrimonial property. To apply outside this time frame requires special permission from the court which adds a further complexity.
Question: How can an individual protect their financial and business interests during a divorce?
Laura Gardiner: Depending on your individual circumstances, your spouse may be entitled to a significant portion of assets which may be in your sole name, including property or business interests. To best protect your financial and business interests, action should be taken before you marry. This may include keeping personal and business accounts separate or setting up trusts.
Once divorce proceedings are underway, these measures will no longer be possible. You will need to cooperate with your spouse and reach an agreement. Ultimately, transparency is key to a successful family law property settlement. Australia's Family Law Courts look sternly on what might appear to be an attempt to hide assets.
Question: What do most people forget when getting divorced?
Laura Gardiner: The process of divorce can end up being quite adversarial which can lead some people to try to -win' the divorce process. The reality is there are no winners. Those that get the best outcomes try hard to be civil and cooperative. This is better for children as well.
Question: Does the divorce law differ regarding the length of a relationship?
Laura Gardiner: If you have been married for less than two years then there is an additional requirement to participate in marriage counselling as an attempt at reconciliation. Couples need to produce a certificate to prove that counselling took place. The way property and assets are divided can be impacted based on the length of your relationship.
Question: How are women who may have worked less protected during a divorce?
Laura Gardiner: Non-financial contributions to marriages including caring for children and the management of domestic duties are taken into consideration when dividing assets and property. So for women who have worked less yet contributed more in these areas, they won't be disadvantaged. The future needs of both parties are also considered which includes caring for children. If women are to take on primary custody and have children living with them, this will impact how assets and property are divided as well.
Question: How do the rules change when the couple is De Facto rather than married?
Laura Gardiner: De facto couples are treated the same as married couples under the Family Law Act 1975. The law was changed in 2009. A de facto relationship involves two people, opposite sex or same sex, who are not married or related by family, and who live together on a 'genuine domestic basis'. These couples have access to the same provisions under the law when dividing property and assets, or reaching agreement in children and custody.
Interview by Brooke Hunter