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Relationship breakdowns are never easy, but when children and property are involved, a divorce or separation can quickly turn ugly. Processing a divorce can be lengthy and overwhelming for all parties involved. Hiring a qualified divorce lawyer gives you access to expert legal assistance and advice during a difficult time. Here's our guide to hiring divorce lawyers in Australia.
What's in this guide?
- What is a divorce lawyer?
- When should I use a divorce lawyer?
- Divorce lawyers vs mediators: What's the difference?
- What services does a divorce lawyer offer?
- Do I need a lawyer for a divorce?
- How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Australia?
- Where can I get legal advice for divorce?
- Questions to ask a lawyer about divorce
What is a divorce lawyer?
Divorce lawyers are legal experts that specialise in matters relating to family law, including divorce, child support, property settlements and separations.
As trained legal professionals, divorce lawyers can guide you through all stages of a separation or divorce including matters prior to a divorce, such as prenuptial agreements. Divorce lawyers provide clients with legal advice that is tailored to your individual circumstances and needs.
When a marriage is dissolved, qualified divorce lawyers can help you navigate the complexities of a divorce application by helping you prepare relevant documents, liaise with counsellors where required, mediate matters outside of court and correspond with other parties involved.
When should I use a divorce lawyer?
You can request the advice and legal services of a divorce lawyer at any stage of your marriage. Here are some instances when you should consider working with divorce lawyers:
1. Submitting a divorce application
Under the Family Law Act 1975, the only basis required for a divorce is the "irretrievable breakdown of a marriage". There is no fault required to apply for a divorce, but there are guidelines that govern when an individual can file for divorce. To apply for a divorce in Australia, you are required to have been separated from your partner for at least 12 months.
A divorce application can be submitted by one or both parties. Typically, there is a delay between the application submission and the divorce order issued by the court.
Divorce applications can be completed online or through the Family Law Registry. There are specific documents required for a divorce application, such as a copy of your marriage certificate, proof of your citizenship and other relevant documents.
Divorce lawyers can assist you with the paperwork and documentation required when filing for divorce, but even before this stage, seeking advice from a divorce lawyer can be helpful in understanding your legal rights and responsibilities.
2. Children and family matters
Sadly, children are often caught in the middle of marriage breakdowns and disputes. In cases where children are involved, it can be helpful to request legal assistance from an experienced divorce lawyer to ensure your children's rights are also protected during the process.
During a divorce, the court may refuse to approve a divorce until it is satisfied that the needs of the children have adequately been met. Divorce lawyers can provide effective legal assistance and representation on matters involving custody and parenting arrangements for your children.
3. Asset division and property settlement
From property division to superannuation and pets, divorce proceedings can be a costly and difficult process for all parties involved.
Divorce lawyers are effective in helping protect your legal rights during settlement discussions. Working with a qualified divorce lawyer can help you interpret a prenuptial agreement, help you determine the percentage of your ownership and process the settlement of assets such as:
- House (including investment properties)
- Household items and furniture
- Businesses and company structures
- Savings account and superannuation
Divorce lawyers vs mediators: What's the difference?
Having matters heard by the family law court is an expensive and stressful process. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process that can help make arrangements for children and property settlements during a divorce.
Divorce lawyers are required for court proceedings when former partners cannot agree on parenting or how to divide assets. Unlike the court system, where both parties require legal representation, mediation sessions can be attended without a divorce lawyer.
Attending a mediation session is voluntary and can be conducted without assistance from a divorce lawyer, although many people still request the advice and assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer. During a mediation process, divorce lawyers can assist in negotiation and dispute resolution during a mediation process.
What services does a divorce lawyer offer?
Experienced divorce lawyers in Australia offer clients the following legal services:
- Assistance in preparing documents required to file for divorce
- Representation when parties are required to attend a court hearing
- Exploring alternative dispute resolution pathways
- Negotiating with other parties your behalf
- Providing guidance on lawful ways to divide assets
- Helping ascertain the best interests of the child
Do I need a lawyer for a divorce?
As divorce is a legal process involving the division of assets and often, child-related concerns, an expert in family law can help you navigate complex disputes.
A divorce lawyer is not required to file for a divorce, but if two parties are unable to agree on asset divisions or parenting arrangements, court intervention may be required. In these circumstances, a divorce lawyer is required.
Effective divorce lawyers can also assist you in resolving matters outside of a lengthy court process by settling a dispute outside of a courtroom through mediation sessions. This provides both parties with a cost-efficient and less complex approach to an already taxing situation.
How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Australia?
Divorce lawyers can charge clients by an hourly rate or based on the services required – some legal professionals may charge different rates for divorce proceedings involving children or complex property settlement charges.
There are a range of factors involved in the cost of hiring a divorce lawyer. For example, if you require a divorce lawyer for one mediation session, the cost of their services will be different to a divorce lawyer hired to represent you in a lengthy court process, which can cost up to $5,000 a day. The length of experience of your hired divorce lawyer can also affect the cost of their services.
Additional fees required to file a divorce application are also not included in the cost of hiring a divorce lawyer.
Where can I get legal advice for divorce?
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Questions to ask a lawyer about divorce
Divorce and separation are never easy or enjoyable. Hiring an expert divorce lawyer who is an effective problem solver, communicator and negotiator can be extremely helpful in providing you with alternative solutions, so you and your former partner can resolve a dispute amicably.
Here are some questions to ask your divorce lawyer to guide you through the process of a divorce:
- How is custody determined?
- What are the different types of custody and parenting arrangements?
- When is it relevant to disclose domestic and family violence?
- How much does a divorce cost?
- What happens if my partner refuses a divorce application?
Your unique circumstances will affect the answers and advice that a divorce lawyer provides to you. Whether you're considering separation or looking to file for divorce, seeking legal advice from an experienced divorce lawyer can help protect your rights and simplify an already complex and difficult process.Back to top
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