Family law in Australia, in simpler terms, is those pieces of legislation which affect family and relationship between husband, wife, children and ‘de facto’ couples, including when a relationship ends. Family law includes the legal divorce, property settlement and parenting arrangement for children. In Australia, family law is practiced in ‘Family Court of Australia’.
When it comes to family law, people are often clueless about many basic facts. Let us address some of the top 10 family law questions, people often ask.
1. What is a divorce by Australian family law?
Divorce is nothing but the legal approval for ending married life or living together relationship. Divorce includes separation of married couples, parental management of children and property settlement. Divorce is recognized when the couple agrees on all this, either mutually or by judgment by an authorized court.
2. De Facto relationship
Ending a de facto relationship comes under family law. De facto relationship is that where two people of same-sex or opposite sex, live together on a genuine family basis. In a de facto relationship, it is not necessary that they are legally married. Ending a de facto relationship is approved by family law, on legal conditions.
3. Child support under family law
Family courts give prime importance to parental maintenance of children after the legal separation of parents. Unless mutually agreed on child support by divorced parents, either or both of them can approach Department of Human Services (Child Support) for legal resolution on child support. Department of Human Services assesses child support petition and act accordingly.
4. About parenting order
In the parenting order, the court gives ruling on adequate parental maintenance to children. Every judgment made on child support will be at ‘best interests of the child’. made on Court will take care of aspects like:
- Designating parental duties to either or both of the parents. It includes the responsibilities, powers and authority on children.
- Who the kids are to live with permanently. On court’s discretion, the other parent may be allowed designated time to spend with the children, which is called ‘access’.
- All aspects of welfare of the children will be considered and will allocate either or both parents to fulfill the responsibilities.
5. All about property settlement
Property settlement is also part of legal divorce according to Australian Family Law. Unlike a dispute settlement, under the family law, court always follows a ‘non-mathematical’ settlement method. Which means, it is the sole discretion of the court to order a 50/50 settlement of the property or not. The outcomes can vary based on a lot of family aspects.
There are few steps followed by every court to decide on property settlement.
- First of all, it is the discretion of the court to decide whether it is just and equitable to change any of the party’s legal ownership of any assets.
- Next step is to assess the net worth of the properties by listing out each asset owned by the parties. Also, the court assesses the contribution of the parties into the property pool.
- Once the assessment is done, court will look into the current and future circumstances of the petitioners which include age of the petitioners, income earning capabilities, age of the relationship and parental access of the children etc…
- Based on all the above-mentioned factors, court gives final judgment on property settlement.
6. What is spousal maintenance?
When approving divorce, the court may sometimes order for spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is essential monetary support provided to one spouse by other. If court observes that the receiving spouse is unable to support themselves sufficiently, a spousal maintenance is ordered by family court in Australia.
7. What is a family report?
Family courts in Australia value a family report while recognizing a divorce. Family report is the observations and recommendations of a social worker or psychologist submitted to the court which briefs post-divorce arrangements and preparations in the best interests of children. The writer is either reported by the court of law or elected by both the parties by mutual consent sustains is a dispute on parental maintenance.
8. What is mediation?
Mediation is assisting the separated couples to reach in mutual agreements on child support and property settlement. Through mediation court aims at minimizing disputes and easing the divorce process. Mediation is not a compulsory process as court commences a mediation only when spouses don’t mutually agree on anything.
9. How long does the process take?
It is the sole discretion of the court. However, if the spouses reach on mutual agreements and file a joint application for ‘consent orders’, then divorce is sanctioned with much lesser time than one with mediation, disputes and non-agreements of property and children.
10. What are the requirements for divorce?
Family court sanctions a divorce based on certain requirements.
- The couples must have been separated for at-least 12 months. Separated but living in the same home is acceptable.
- Court should be convinced that the relationship is irrecoverably broken.
- To file a divorce petition in family court in Australia, at least one of the spouses should be an Australian citizen or resident.
- If you are married for less than two years, family law allows a divorce petition only after two years of separation.
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