Preparing for a divorce can be both a stressful and emotional time; however this can be eased by obtaining the advice and support of a family lawyer in Melbourne, to help guide you throughout the process. Below is a step-by-step guide to preparing for a divorce, detailing the best ways to ensure that you fully understand both the process and your rights throughout.
Step 1: Separation
Short term arrangements made during separation can have lasting effects on a divorce. Therefore, seeking advice from a specialist in family law, before or soon after separation is a great way to ensure that both former partners stay fully informed when making important and difficult decisions in the separation. Some decisions a family lawyer can assist with include where the children will live, how much time the children will spend with each parent, arrangements for financial support of the children and if it is appropriate in the situation for one partner to continue to provide ongoing financial support to the other.
Step 2: Reviewing and understanding your family's finances
A specialist in family law can provide invaluable assistance before an Application for Divorce is filed. Before an application is made, it is important to review your finances; how much you both earn and any debts that are associated with either or both of you. Carefully reviewing finances with a specialist in family law will ensure that you understand exactly what you are entitled to in order to determine a fair split.
Step 3: Determining issues of children and property
It is important to note that the granting of a divorce through a divorce hearing, does not determine the issues of care arrangement for children, spousal maintenance or the division of property and finances. These are separate issues which need to be discussed and finalised before the application of a divorce. It is also important to note that any applications for the division of property must be done within one year of the divorce becoming final.
Representation from a family lawyer in Melbourne is vital in ensuring that both sides receive a fair split and in ensuring that any child care arrangements are appropriate. Whilst you can choose to seek orders from a Court if you and your former partner cannot reach an agreement, making an agreement with your former partner through discussions with experienced lawyers can significantly decrease the stress involved and any further strain that might be put on your relationship with your former partner.
Step 4: Preparing an Application for Divorce
To apply for a divorce, you must complete an Application for Divorce, pay the filing fee and then file it with the Court or online.
In Australia there is -no fault divorce'. This means that the Court will not consider why the marriage ended in order to grant a divorce.
What must be shown however is that;
You have lived separately and apart for at least 12 months. It is possible to still live together in the same home but still be separated in the eyes of the Court. This is known as -separation under the one roof'. If this applies to your situation, you need to show that you were in fact separated during this time. This can include factors such as sleeping in different beds.
There is no reasonable likelihood of reconciliation
You have been married for more than 2 years, or have attended the required counselling with the Family Court.
A family lawyer can assist with any questions in relation to the Application for Divorce.
Step 5: Attending a Divorce Hearing
You must attend your divorce hearing if:
You have made the Application for divorce yourself (the other alternative is a joint application which is made by both former spouses)
You and your former spouse have children who are under 18 years of age.
A lawyer can certainly attend the hearing alongside you, or on your behalf. The hearing itself is quite quick and is likely to involve questions about information in the application and about care and financial arrangements where children are involved.
Step 6: The Outcome
If the Court is satisfied of the conditions above they will grant the divorce. This becomes final one month and one day from the date of the hearing, and you will receive a Divorce Order.
Through one of the hardest times in a person's life, it is important to remain fully informed and supported each step of the way. Representation from an experienced family lawyer can help put your mind at ease, knowing that you are fully supported and guided throughout the legal aspects of the process.