Making the decision to end your relationship (either marriage or de facto) can be incredibly difficult, especially if you are unaware of your rights and responsibilities in the context of Family Law. Here are some things you need to know so you can best answer this question.
People often ask me whether they should stay in the family home or not, what’s required to ‘separate’, and what is involved in reaching an agreement regarding any children and property. The factors surrounding each person’s circumstances are different. We can provide you with expert legal advice about legal separation and dividing assets in divorce, among other things, what the Family Law Courts look at in determining what your entitlements are in a property settlement and what is in the best interests of any children.
The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) provides a presumption in favour of both parents to have ‘equal shared parental responsibility’ for any children. This does not mean the children are to live with each parent on an equal time arrangement. Each parent is equally responsible for major decisions for any child, such as schooling and healthcare. Primary considerations the courts take into account is the benefit of any child having a meaningful relationship with each parent and the need to protect any child from a risk of harm.
Additionally, the courts consider the relationship a child has with each parent, and the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between a child and the other parent.In relation to property and financial matters, a four-step process is followed:
- Step 1 – Identify and value all assets and liabilities each party has an interest in.
- Step 2 – Identify the contributions each party has made throughout the relationship. These contributions are categorised as financial, non-financial, parenting and homemaker.
- Step 3 – Identify any future needs factors each party may have.
- Step 4 – The overall settlement must be fair and equitable to both Party’s in the circumstances.