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Australian Family Law: Everything You Need to Know

Are you going through a separation or divorce and need some help understanding Australian family law? This post will discuss the key concepts of family law, including property settlements, child custody and spousal maintenance.

So whether you are just starting in your separation or are already in the thick of things, read on for the information you need.

What Is Family Law in Australia and What Does It Cover?

Australian family law is the area of law that deals with families and their relationships. It covers a wide range of issues, from divorce and property settlements to child custody and domestic violence.

Family law in Australia is governed by both federal and state legislation. The main federal law is the Family Law Act 1975, which provides for the dissolution of marriages and de facto relationships, as well as the division of property and spousal maintenance. State laws also play a role in areas such as child protection and adoption.

How Do Family Law Disputes Get Resolved in Australia?

In Australia, family law disputes must first undergo family dispute resolution (FDR). FDR may include negotiation, conciliation, mediation and arbitration, and collaborative practice. The disputes can be taken to court. However, this can only happen when there is no other way of resolving the dispute.

In many cases, it is preferable to resolve disputes through FDR, as this can often be quicker and less expensive than going to court. But there are some situations where court proceedings may be necessary.

Types of Orders By a Court Under Australian Family Law

If disputes are taken to court, different types of orders can be made by a court under Australian family law. These include property orders, spousal maintenance orders and child custody orders.

The type of order that is made by the court will depend on the individual circumstances of each case.

1. Property Orders

In Australia, the property is divided between spouses who are going through a divorce according to the Family Law Act 1975. The court will take into account several factors when determining how to divide the property, such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial contribution to the marriage and any future needs of each spouse. The court will also consider any children of the marriage and whether one spouse will have primary custody.

In most cases, the court will order an equal split of the property. However, there may be some circumstances where one spouse will receive a greater share. For example, if one spouse has significantly more money than the other, the court may order that spouse to pay spousal maintenance to his or her ex-partner.

Australian family law provides for a fair and equitable division of property between divorcing spouses. If you are considering a divorce, it is important to seek advice from a family lawyer to ensure that your property is divided under the law.

2. Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance is payments made from one spouse to another to help support the recipient spouse after separation or divorce.

In Australia, the Family Law Act 1975 governs the payment of spousal maintenance. The Act does not set out any hard and fast rules for determining whether spousal maintenance should be paid, and if so, how much should be paid. Instead, the court will consider several factors in each case, including the financial need of the recipient spouse and the ability of the paying spouse to meet that need. Other relevant factors include the length of the marriage, the age and health of both spouses and their future earning capacity.

In deciding on spousal maintenance, the court will also take into account any agreements that may have been reached between the parties. Ultimately, however, it is up to the court to decide whether spousal maintenance should be paid and, if so, how much should be paid. This means that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how spousal maintenance is determined under the Australian family law.

3. Child Custody

Child custody is a complex issue under Australian family law. The court will need to consider several factors when deciding who should have custody of a child. In most cases, parents should reach an agreement about custody between themselves rather than leaving it to the court to decide.

Child custody arrangements that are ordered by a court include sole custody, joint custody and shared parental responsibility. The type of arrangement that is best for a child will depend on the individual circumstances of each case.

  • Sole Custody

Sole custody means that one parent has legal custody of a child, and the other parent doesn’t. This type of arrangement is usually only ordered by a court in exceptional circumstances.

  • Joint Custody

Joint custody means that both parents have legal custody of a child, and both parents have an equal say in decisions about the child’s care and welfare. Similar to sole custody, this type of arrangement is also usually only ordered by a court in exceptional circumstances.

  • Shared Parental Responsibility

Shared parental responsibility means that both parents have legal custody of a child, but that each parent has a say in decisions about the child’s care and welfare. This type of arrangement is often ordered by a court when it is in the best interests of the child.

What Are Some Tips for People Going Through a Family Law Dispute?

Family law disputes can be emotionally charged and difficult to navigate. If you find yourself amidst a family law dispute, here are some tips to help ease the process.

  • It is important to try and communicate with the other party respectfully. This can be challenging, but it is important to remember that you are both working towards the same goal: a resolution.
  • It is helpful to gather as much information as possible about your case. This means staying organised and keeping track of important documents.
  • Lastly, it is important to seek out professional help if you need it. A family lawyer or mediator can provide invaluable guidance and support during this difficult time.

By following these tips, you can help make the family law dispute process a little bit easier.

How Can Madison Marcus Help You

Madison Marcus is a premier law firm in Australia. If you have any specific questions or want more information about how family law might apply to your situation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Our team is experienced in all areas of family law and would be happy to chat with you about your unique situation. For all enquiries, contact us here.


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