As a grandparent, do I have a right to see my grandchildren under family law?


Grandparents are often an important part of a child’s life. Grandparents can be involved in lots of different ways - perhaps it’s a regular babysitting role, maybe its breaking the bed time rules or serving up dessert before dinner. Whatever role it may be, grandparents often want to be a part of a child’s life.


Grandparents can sometimes encounter issues when it comes to seeing their grandchildren. Whilst there is no automatic right for a grandparent to see their grandchild, the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) allows for a grandparent of the child or any other person concerned with the care, welfare or development of the child to apply to the court for a parenting order.


There are many situations in which a grandparent may want to apply for a parenting order to see a grandchild and some common situations are:

1.     The parents have separated and neither parent is facilitating time with the grandparents.

2.     The parents are still together but refuse to let the grandparents spend time with the child.

3.     One of the parents may have passed away and the surviving parent isn’t allowing the grandparents to see the child.

4.     The grandparents may want a child to live with them, for reasons such as the parents aren’t involved in the child’s life or there is a significant safety concern for the child in the parent’s care.


It’s important to know that there is typically a requirement to try family dispute resolution before proceeding to court (some exceptions may apply). This means the grandparents and parents could try mediation with a third-party mediator to try and resolve the issues and come to an agreement first.


If separated parents already have court proceedings on foot, then grandparents may need to be joined to these court proceedings as a third-party. Alternatively, grandparents may need to be the ones to start the court proceedings. There’s several different orders a grandparent could seek such as:

1.     to spend time the child;

2.     to communicate with the child e.g over telephone or skype;

3.     that the child live with the grandparents and that the grandparents have parental responsibility for the child.


In any parenting matter a court will look at what is in the best interests of the child. That is the paramount consideration of the court when making a parenting order. The amount of time or communication that a child has with a grandparent will be based on what is best for the child.


There are many factors that a court will look at when determining what is in a child’s best interests. Some additional considerations are:

1.     the views of the child (usually depending on the maturity and level of understanding);

2.     the nature of the child’s relationship with parents and grandparents;

3.     the likely effect of any changes in the child’s circumstances including separation from parents, any other child or other person such as grandparents who the child has been living with;

4.     the capacity of parents and grandparents to cater for the needs of the child including emotional and intellectual needs;

5.     any family violence.


If a dispute arises solely between the parents of the child, and it doesn’t involve the grandparents then proceedings will need to be commenced by one of the child’s parents. A grandparent cannot start proceedings on behalf of a parent who is capable of doing this for themselves.


At Coutts, we understand that this may be a difficult time for you and that every situation is different. We can meet with you to take you through the process and advise you on your individual circumstances.


For further information contact:

Rebecca Watts
02 4607 2148

Luisa Gaetani
Senior Lawyer
02 4607 2112

This blog is merely general and non specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever in relation to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

Separation & Divorce: The Rules


There is a general misconception surrounding separation and whether it can only occur if parties are living in completely different residences. This is in fact not the case, and separation does include separation under the same roof, as well as living in completely separate residences.

For the Court to be satisfied that the parties have been separated under the same roof, the party bringing the application needs to prove to the Court the following:

  • That they have been living in separate bedrooms;

  • The parties’ belongings have been separated;

  • Each party is attending to their own cooking, cleaning and washing;

  • That the parties have not invited family or friends to socialise in their home as a couple;

  • That the parties have not attended a social gathering/function together as a couple; and

  • That a third party such as a family member or friend was aware that the parties were separated but living under the same roof.

When making an Application for Divorce, the party applying needs to prove to the Court that the parties have been separated for a period of 12 months or more.

If the parties have been separated under the same roof for a part of that 12 months or for the full 12 months, when applying for Divorce, they will need to provide the Court with extra information in addition to the Application for Divorce, including:

  • The dates that the parties were living separately under the same roof;

  • An Affidavit by the person applying for the Divorce detailing the circumstances and how they were living separately under the same roof; and

  • A corroborating Affidavit of a third party such as a family member or friend acknowledging that they were aware that the parties were separated but living under the same roof and the details of how they were aware of those circumstances.

Once these documents have been filed with the Court, the parties will receive a ‘Divorce Hearing date’ where the Application is heard/reviewed before a Registrar of the Court. If all of the requirements for the Application for Divorce have been satisfied, the Registrar will make an Order for the parties to officially be divorced one month and one day after the Divorce Hearing date.

If you are separated and need assistance in preparing an Application for Divorce and/or Affidavits for separation under the same roof, contact the Family Law Team at Coutts who can provide you with all of the information required.


For further information contact:

Luisa Gaetani
Senior Lawyer
02 4607 2112


5 Do’s and Dont’s for Separation involving children.


Separation is a very difficult thing to go through, and is made even harder when there are children involved. It is important to remember that regardless of the circumstances in which separation has occurred, your kids love both you and your former partner. There are things that you should and shouldn’t do during the time of transition.

While this isn’t based on what the law says, we see so many families going through separation. Everyone is human, and we all make mistakes, but there are practical ways that you can approach this situation to support your kids as much as possible.

Things you should do:

Things you should do

Things you shouldn’t do:

Things you shouldn't do

By remembering that your children love both parents very much, and keeping them as your focus through the separation process, you can make decisions that are good for them, as well as good for you, helping you move on to the next exciting stage of your life.

If you have any legal questions about separation and children, please click here to contact us.

10 things to think about when Separating - Property


If you are going through a separation, and own property together (whether you are married or a de facto couple), you will need to decide on separating property between you. Before you are able to reach an agreement with separating property you have, it’s important to have reasonable expectations. Expectations of life after separation and what life is really going to be like for you, sometimes don’t meet up, so it is important to take a realistic approach.

Here are 10 things to think about when separating property:

10 things - Property.PNG

What next?

After you have taken the time to consider these things and what you want for the future, it is important to speak to a lawyer about the best way to move forward. It’s very important that a formal family law property settlement is done to protect you both in the future.

To make an appointment to discuss your separation and these issues, contact us today. We can help you plan how to move past these issues and onto the next exciting chapter of your life.

Should I let my Children Travel overseas with my ex?


If your ex has asked to take your children to travel overseas with them, you may be worried or questioning, "Should I let my children travel overseas with my ex?". On the one hand overseas travel can be an amazing opportunity for children to spend time with your former partner and learn about the world. However, it can be a scary and uncertain thing for the parent who isn’t travelling with the children. When considering a request from your ex to take your children travelling overseas, you obviously need to consider if it is safe for your children to travel. One of the biggest concerns people express  is that the other parent will not return the children to Australia.

When weighing things up, you should consider the following:

  1. Is your former partner a citizen, or are your children citizens of another country?
  2. Does your former partner have family in another country that they are close with?
  3. Has your former partner ever lived overseas, or expressed a desire to move overseas with the children?
  4. Is your former partner proposing to travel with the children to a country that is not a signatory to the Hague Convention?
  5. Do you have current Family Law Orders in place?

What is the Hague Convention?

Formally called ‘The Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of Internal Child Abduction’, the Hague Convention is an international treaty that provides avenues for child recovery when a person takes children overseas without permission or does not return to the home country as promised.

Countries that have agreed to be a part of the Convention are called ‘signatories’.

Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention, and so when children travel to other signatory countries, the Hague Convention applies. However, if children travel to other countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention, then the treaty does not apply and the avenues it provides are not available if the children are not returned. For the full list of countries practicing the Hague Convention click here.

What are Family Law Orders?

Family Law Orders are orders that have been made under the Family Law Act. They provide orders about things like who children live with after separation takes place. Family Law Orders can also provide conditions of overseas travel.

If there are Family Law Orders in place, both parties are bound to comply with the orders. Failure to comply allows the other party to make an application to the court to enforce the orders under certain circumstances.

So, what can I do to make sure that my children travel safely with my ex?

Holidays are a part of life, and overseas travel is a wonderful opportunity for your children to learn about the world. But, if you are unsure or uncomfortable with the thought of your children travelling and want to know more about your options, please contact us for an appointment.

The Coutts Solicitors Family Law team are experienced and knowledgeable in all areas of current Australian Family Laws. Several members of our team practice solely on Family Law Matters, meaning they have advised hundreds of people on Family Laws. Each of our team are excellent at negotiation and mediation outside of Court, as well as representing you in Court if you wish to proceed to this level. If you would like to know more about Family Law and how Coutts can help, please click here.

4 Divorce and tax implications you should know about

Going through a divorce, separation and break up is a very emotional and complicated process. The situation can get even more complicated when there is property involved. If there are houses, superannuation, shares, investments and businesses involved, you will eventually need to make decisions about who is going to keep what property. When making these decisions, you should always consult with a lawyer to know what your legal options are. But, it’s also important to consult with an accountant or financial planner so that you properly understand what your financial options are, and if there are any tax implications that you may face.

Stamp duty implications

In cases where one person is going to keep a house and buy the other out, it is important that you know that in NSW, stamp duty is payable on that buy out.

It is also important that you know that the stamp duty that will be owed is not the amount that you are paying the other person out, but on the value of the share that you are buying.

For example, Jack and Emily* have a home in Camden together, and its worth about $700,000.00. They own the home as joint tenants, which (very) basically means that they own the home equally. Emily pays Jack $100,000.00 in exchange for her keeping the home.

Emily will pay stamp duty on the share that she is buying, which is Jacks half of the house, which is $350,000.00. She will not pay stamp duty on the $100,000.00 that she pays to Jack.

In saying all of this, there is a way to get around having to pay stamp duty. Exemptions to stamp duty are created if there is a Family Law Order or another kind of agreement under the Family Law Act. So, if Jack and Emily enter into a formal property settlement, then Emily will not have to pay stamp duty. To find out more about how to get a formal property settlement, click here.

Capital gains tax implications

Capital gains tax is the situation where you earn income or make a capital gain from an investment, including property. That capital gain is taxable. When going through a separation, the most common time that capital gains tax becomes an issue is when there is more than one property that is being sold or bought out by one of the parties. When this happens, it is best to seek advice from an accountant about exactly what capital gains implications you may face, and what you can do to minimise any implications.

Superannuation tax implications

If you are going through a divorce or separation, and dividing up property that is between you, you may divide up superannuation as well. For those who make additional contributions to their superannuation, or who are receiving a large sum into their superannuation fund as a result of Family Law agreement, there may be tax implications that you need to consider. Your superannuation fund will be able to provide you with some general information about this, but it is best to consult an accountant or financial planner about the full extent of any implications before making a decision.

Corporate tax

It is not uncommon for couples to run businesses together. It’s also not uncommon for those businesses to be incorporated, so that the couple become directors of a company. When going through a separation, there is usually some kind of agreement about who will retain the company, and any assets that may be held by the company. It’s common to pay one director out in these circumstances.

Corporate tax is a very complex area and it is best to talk to an accountant or corporate tax specialist in these circumstances to find out what, if any, corporate tax implications you could face when trying to split up a business.

If you need advice to navigate your legal options when going through a divorce, separation, or break up, be sure to contact us. If you need advice on divorce and tax implications, you can chat with us, but we also highly recommend speaking to an accountant or a financial planner. 

*Jack and Emily may be real people, but I certainly don’t know them. These names have been used for the purpose of the example only.

Need professional advice with regard to Family Law? Contact us today.

6 steps to recover financially from a Separation or Divorce

In Australia today around 1 in 3 marriages can be expected to end in divorce. With 77% of Australian couples also living together before getting married (and let’s face it - some don’t go the distance) the real impact of  relationship breakdowns is likely to be much higher than the statistics lead us to believe. 

There is no doubt moving on from any long term relationship, be it marriage or de facto, can attract a heavy emotional toll. But the financial impact can also be far reaching and long lasting.

Finances are often left on the back burner as you focus on the emotional health of yourself and your family. Perhaps it is the fi rst time you have had sole responsibility for your finances? Or maybe you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start?

The key is to take action early. Here are some steps to get back on track financially after a separation or divorce…

1. Check your credit rating

A vital first step is taking control of your financial future! Check to see if your credit report contains any errors or if any of your partner’s information is listed. If so, have it rectified. There are two main credit reporting agencies - Veda and Dun & Bradstreet

2. Identify your creditors

Make a list of all your creditors, both secured and unsecured. Your secured creditors are those where assets are used as security for the loan, eg house or car. Negotiation of both the assets and the outstanding loans will be required by both parties.

3. Separate all joint accounts

A time consuming but crucial step is to unravel all your joint accounts, including credit cards. Even if the separation is amicable it is best to separate all accounts to avoid future issues.

4. Create a budget

An unavoidable result of separation is a change in lifestyle. An important step in making this adjustment is creating a comprehensive budget separating discretionary and mandatory expenses. To stick to your new budget you may need to make tough decisions on discretionary spending. Of course, if you have children then child support may also come into the equation – one party may be paying child support while the other receives it. Remember that child support payments will cease or may be amended at some point in time. This should be factored into future planning for both parties.

5. Decide on your housing options

In most cases the family home is either sold or refinanced. At least one partner will need to find somewhere new to live. While renting may be a viable short term option, in the long term most people wish to buy a home. You will need expert advice on how to best refinance your home or secure a loan for a new home. If refinancing or applying for a new loan it is important that all required identity documentation reflects your new marital status and/or any change of name.

It is essential you contact your mortgage broker to discuss the process BEFORE lodging any loan application documents.

6. Prepare a Financial plan for the future

• Start an emergency fund - open a separate savings account for unexpected emergencies. • Update your Will – ensure it reflects the changes that have occurred in your life. • Manage your debt - contact us for a chat about how to reduce your ‘bad’ debt like credit cards and personal loans as quickly as possible. • Plan for your retirement - review superannuation and update beneficiary details if required. • Review your insurance needs - you will need to update policies from married to single status.

This is a guest blog written by Andrew Evans from Mortgage Guy. If you would like to discuss getting your finances on track after a separation or divorce click here to contact Mortgage Guy . If you are thinking of separating from your partner and would like information from the Coutts Solicitors Family Law team click here to contact Coutts Solicitors.

Time limits when separating

If you are separating from your partner it is important to remember time limits when separating and protect yourself with a property settlement within this time frame. People who enter into marriages and de facto relationships create a very special relationship emotionally, socially, and legally. That special relationship brings many rights and obligations at law. It is these legal implications of a relationship that allow a property division to take place when a relationship ends or when a couple are separating.

Dividing up property and having a property settlement is different for every separating couple. To understand exactly what you need to do, it is best to speak with a family lawyer.

It is also important that you know that there can be time limits on when a property division can take place.

How early can we do a property settlement?

You can do a property settlement as soon as separation takes place. To ensure that your property settlement is legally recognised, you should engage with a lawyer and do things properly. This process can take a few weeks or a few months depending on the case.

De facto time limits

If you have been in a de facto relationship and you have separated, it is important that you know that you only have two years to make an application to the court to have a property settlement take place.

Example: John and Sarah separate on 31 August 2013. They have a house together, bank accounts, and cars, but they never got married. John and Sarah talk about how they want to divide up the property but can never reach an agreement.

John and Sarah must either enter into a legally recognised agreement, or make an application to the court by 31 August 2015. If they do not do this, they no longer fall under the Family Law Act, and this can cause serious legal issues for them.

Marriage time limits

If you have been married, it is important to know that there is no time limit on when a property settlement has to take place, unless you have gotten a divorce and more than 12 months has passed. This is very important to consider as it means that the legal rights and obligations that your marriage has created do not end until you do have a legally recognised agreement or a court order in place.

Example: Chris and Tammy have been married for seven years. They have each have superannuation, cars, bank accounts, and credit cards. They also have a house and a mortgage. They separate on 1 May 2012. Although they often talk about it, they cannot reach an agreement on how to split up the property and who should have to pay the credit cards. On 30 June 2013, Tammy applies for a divorce, and the divorce is granted on 1 August 2013. Chris and Tammy then only have until 1 August 2014 to enter into a legally recognised agreement or make an application to the court for a property settlement. If they do not do this in time, then they no longer fall under the Family Law Act and this will lead to serious legal issues for both of them.

For advice on your circumstances contact Coutts Solicitors & Conveyancers on 1300 268 887 your first consultation is FREE for up to 1 hour.

Is Separation hard to do?

As a family lawyer, I see people going through separation every day. Many people ask me "Is Separation hard to do?" , Separation is becoming more common in our society. But just because it happens every day doesn’t mean that it is easy, either emotionally, physically or legally. Even though most people do not realise it, being married or in a de facto relationship actually bears very serious legal ramifications, and so the process of separation is also a complex legal matter.

Background: the marital relationship

Throughout history, marriage has been considered a legal agreement to bind two people into a relationship. From a legal point of view, it is very similar to a contract. As a part of this legal agreement, many rights and obligations are given to both parties particularly in relation to property. Think of these as the ‘fine print’ or the ‘terms and conditions’ of marriage. Once a couple is married, any assets or debts that they have are considered marital assets and marital debts, regardless of whose name those assets or debts are in. Marriage also creates certain rights in relation to a persons estate after they pass away.

Since 2009, the Family Law Act also covers de facto relationships. This means that there are rights and obligations that mirror that of a married couple if two people are in a relationship and have been living together for more than two years or if they have children together.

It is important to remember that just because marriage and de facto relationships are common does not mean that the law treats them with indifference. The rights and obligations that go along with these relationships create serious and quite complex legal issues.

What kinds of rights and obligations are created in these special relationships?

The main rights and obligations that are created are in relation to legal and financial matters.

When a party to marriage or a de facto relationship buys property or acquires an asset, that property or asset becomes property of the marriage, regardless of whose name it is in.

The same goes for debts, all credit card debts, loans and mortgages taken out by either party become debts of the marriage.

There are also rights and obligations created in terms of information. For example, if my husband is in an accident, I have the right to information about his health and condition, and I also have the obligation to make decisions about this treatment if he is not in a position to do so himself.

Marriage and de facto relationships also create rights of survivorship and impact on a person’s estate after they have passed away.

Separation: exiting a marriage or de facto relationship

The act of separation itself does not end the rights and obligations that have been created. So, when separation does take place, proper steps must be taken to end the rights and obligations that have been invoked by marriage or time (in the case of de facto’s).

The steps that must be taken can vary slightly on a case by case basis, but what all separations have in common is this: you must engage in legal processes to end the rights and obligations that have been created by the relationship. If you do not do this, those rights and obligations will continue into the future (for more information about time limits, please click here).

Just as the rights and obligations created are serious and complex, so is the process to undo those rights and obligations. Although it is possible to enter into an agreement about what you want to do with those rights and obligations, for that agreement to be legally recognised it must be done in a certain way.

Legal processes: ending the rights and obligations

While legal processes can often seem confusing and unnecessary, it is important to follow these processes to make sure that you are protecting yourself in the future. If you do not engage in these legal processes after separating, then you are not ending the rights and obligations that the parties have to one another.

To actively sever the rights and obligations created by your relationship in a way that is legally recognised, you will need to either:

  1. Enter into an agreement that is drawn up in accordance with the law. This means using forms and processes that are set out under the Family Law Act and Family Law Rules. A mere verbal or written agreement is not enough to be a legally recognised agreement.
  2. Have an order made by the Court.

It is also incredibly important that you consider doing things like:

  1. Updating you Will, Power of Attorney, and Enduring Guardianship.
  2. Applying for a Divorce.

Protecting myself in the future: what do I do now?

To find out more about what you need to do next, contact Coutts Solicitors and Conveyancers  to make an appointment on 1300 268 887.

We will be able to provide you with advice about what needs to be taken into consideration in your particular case, and guide you through the processes from there.

Parenting After Separation

What about the kids?  Parenting after separation When going through a separation, every couple will need to address parenting after separation by deciding what is going to happen with their children. It is the reality of a separating couple that the time that they spent with their children will change. This can be a confronting and confusing time for both you and your partner. Because of this, separating couples sometimes avoid talking about parenting after separation and what they want, which ultimately only leads to more confusion and confrontation.

It is because of this that we highly recommend that separating couples with children do all that they can to come to an arrangement about their children as soon as they can.

What does the law say about parenting?

The Family Law Act says that all decisions that are made about parenting must be made to maintain the ‘bests interests of the child’. This means that it is the interests of your children that will be considered before all else.

The term ‘bests interests of the child’ is used time and time again throughout the Family Law Act. To determine what is in the best interests of your children, the Court would consider the benefit of your children having a meaningful relationship with both you and your partner, and also the need to protect your children from any harm.  There are secondary considerations that the Court will also look at to assist it in determining what is in the bests interests of children, including the presence of family violence, the ability to meet the needs of the children, and views that the children may express (depending on their age and maturity).

The Family Law Act says that the court needs to make a decision about where children will live if their parents aren’t able to reach an agreement. The Family Law Act says that children can live with both parents equally, and where that is not in a child’s best interests, children will live with one parent and spend time with another on a substantial significant basis.  What these arrangements look like in reality is different for every family.

What do we have to do to put an arrangement into place?

When possible, it is best for parents and their kids when parents work together to make parenting arrangements for their children.

There are a couple of ways that you and your partner can come to an agreement.

The first way is to have a conversation. If you and your partner are able to have a safe, calm, amicable and practical discussion about what needs to happen, then we strongly encourage you to do so.

If you feel as though you are not able to talk about parenting arrangements without arguing, it may be necessary to reach out to a mediation service. Details of different mediation services are below.

You may also use a solicitor to negotiate with your partner.

Whether you are able to discuss it privately, you require mediation, or you engage with a solicitor, it is very important that you get your parenting arrangements put into writing. Putting the agreement into writing provides each of you with some certainty about the arrangements and can greatly assists in reducing conflict.

We highly recommend speaking with a family law solicitor about the best way to formalise the agreement that you have come to.

What happens when we can’t agree?

If you aren’t able to reach an agreement yourselves, you should speak to a solicitor if you haven’t already. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on the most appropriate way forward.

The Family Law Act requires that where parties cannot reach an agreement themselves, they must attempt mediation if they have not done so already.

If mediation was unsuccessful, or it is not appropriate, then it will be necessary to make an application to the Court to have a decision made for you.

I am worried for the safety of my children

If you have immediate concerns for your safety or the safety of your children, contact the police immediately.

We strongly recommend that you speak with a family law solicitor as soon as you can.

Who do I call now?

For any further advice or legal assistance on this issue, please contact us at Coutts on 1300 268 887.

For mediation, we recommend the following services:

  • Relationships Australia – Lvl 2, 121 Queen Street, Campbelltown – 4221 2000

  • Family Relationship Centre Campbelltown – Macarthur Square – 02 4629 7000

  • Beyond Now Counselling – 7 Broughton Street, Camden – 0408 029 952

  • The Mediation Centre – 3/36 Woodriff Street, Penrith – 02 4761 6930

'We don't need a property settlement', famous last words.

If you and your former partner have owned property together, it is very important that you get advice from a family law solicitor about how to separate and finalise any property that you have with a legal property settlement.  This applies to married couples, de facto couples, and same sex couples. Family law property settlements help to protect the assets that exist at the time of separation, as well as protecting the individuals from any further debts that the other party may enter into. But most importantly, entering into a family law property settlement provides people with the certainty that they need to move on to the next chapter of their lives.

What is a Family property Law settlement?

A family law property settlement is a formal way of separating the property that you and your partner have between you once a separation has taken place. It includes things like:

  • Who will get the former family home;

  • How much money will the other person have to be paid to ‘buy’ them out, and when;

  • Who will keep assets such as shares, savings, interests in business;

  • Who will be responsible for different debts.

A family law property settlement can be achieved by agreement, or determined by an order of the Court.

Why do we need a Family property settlement?

When people either get married or enter into a de facto relationship, they create a financial relationship between them.

A Family Law property settlement formally sets out who is to get what out of the property, and ends the financial relationship that is created as a result of their relationship status. This is particularly important to protect each persons interests as they move on with their lives and continue to acquire further property, or incur further debts.

It is also important to do a Family Law property settlement soon after separation, as the value of the property/debts is determined at the date of entering an agreement or an order of the court being made, not at the time of separation.

What can happen if we don’t do a Family Law property settlement?

Scenario 1 –Tracey and Paul purchase a house in Paul’s name. Seven years later, they separate. Traceymoves out of the family home and into a rental property. She does not have any contact with Paul. After about a year, Tracey decides that she would like to settle the property that is between them. After seeing a family law solicitor, she learns that Paul has increased the mortgage against the property without her knowledge, depleting the equity that was available to divide between them.

Scenario 2 –Jen and Matt have a house together. After separating, Jen stays in the home, and  Matt moves out. Then Jen pays Matt some money, but they never enter into a formal agreement. Soon after,  Matt re-partners and wants to buy a new house.  Jen then decides that a formal family law property settlement is necessary. Because the property settlement is considered to be at the time of a formal agreement and not the time of separation, Matt’s new house could become a part of the dispute.

Scenario 3 – Mark and Brad purchase a house together. Two and a half years later, they separate.  Mark vacates the house. Six months later, he tries to buy a new house, but cannot get loan approval as he is still on the mortgage for the home he had with Brad.

Scenario 4 – Frank and Kate have been married for four years, but do not own much property together so they don’t worry about doing a family law property settlement. Two months after separating, Kate receives a large inheritance.  Frank then starts family law proceedings against Kate. Because they had not done a property settlement before Kate received her inheritance, Kate’s inheritance now becomes a part of the dispute.

Scenario 5 – Karen and Scott have been in a de facto relationship for 30 years. They built their home together, and raised their three children there. When they separate, Scott promises Karen that she can keep the house, and that she will never have to worry about where she will live. They do not do a family law property settlement. Five years later, Scott starts proceedings to sell the house and split the proceeds equally.

In each of these scenario’s, the parties could have protected themselves if they had taken steps to enter into a family law property settlement soon after separation took place.

For any further advice or legal assistance on this issue, please contact us at Coutts on 1300 268 887.

Separated? ....... how do your kids feel?

Whether you have just decided to separate or have been separated for some time, you and the other parent obviously need to think about and agree on arrangements about the children. Many children worry about what will happen to them when their parents split up, and it can be a big relief to them if the arrangements become clear and predictable.

How do I make a parenting agreement?

A parenting agreement is an arrangement that separated parents make about how their children will be cared for and supported. One of the things about coming to a parenting agreement that many parents are particularly worried about, is working out where their children will live and how much time each child will spend with whom.

There are usually strong emotions around this topic for parents, these strong feelings can lead people to act in ways that they might not usually act, or may not even agree with. Some parents can get focused on who will 'win’, they may have long debates about where children live and how much time each parent should get. Arguments between the parents can continue for long periods without a resolution.

Before getting caught up in conflicts about what is fair and unfair for each parent, you could get ready to make a parenting plan by focusing your thinking on what will be best for your children.

What actually are my parental responsibilities?

  • Consider your children’s needs as a priority and make arrangements for your children that are in their best interests.
  • Protect your children from physical or psychological harm or the risk of harm.
  • Encourage your children to talk to and see the other parent regularly, unless this would place your children at risk of harm.
  • Not say or do things that stop your children communicating with the other parent, or  that might harm their relationship with the other parent.
  • Encourage and assist your children to enjoy their culture.
  • Maintain your children financially.
  • In most cases, participate in major long-term decisions about your children.

How a Solicitor can help you to reach an agreement

Not all separated parents are able to agree on parenting arrangements, or the agreements they have made are not kept. The highly charged emotional nature of the decision making in regard to the children can cause massive stress, especially if arguments have become aggressive and unreasonable.  In some cases it may not be safe to try to reach agreement, or there may be other difficulties or urgency that prevents parents from agreeing to arrangements. If this applies to you, you may need to go to court. A Family law Solicitor is an expert in this field, they can advise you on your rights as a parent and the family court system. They will guide you through the legal process and how it relates to your families circumstances.

If you go on to court, the court will have to consider the terms of the most recent parenting arrangements and make a parenting order in relation to your children, if they believe that is in the best interests of your children. A Solicitor will be on hand to give you the advice and support you will need while going to court.

Information was sourced from HERE.

If you would like to talk to a Family Lawyer call Coutts Solcitors & Conveyancers on 1300 268 887 for a FREE Initial Consultation for up to 1 hour.