For any family disputes and family law cases, Johnstone Crouse Lawyers are at your service to help go through the process with minimal stress.
Separation can be an emotional, confusing, and stressful stage in life which can cause major life decisions in relation to children, property, and finances. Some of the cases that we handle include separation, divorce, property disputes, parenting disputes, binding financial agreements, restraining orders, child support, child recovery orders, child relocation issues, mother's rights, father's rights, and grandparent's rights.
Over the years, we learned that family-related cases are the most emotionally difficult ones which is why we strive to ease the case as much as possible. To put it in context, the Annual Report of the Department of Justice for the financial year ended 30 June 2018 records that the Family Court received 15,745 applications in 2017/18, including:
- 2,875 Initiating Applications for Final Order; or
- 5,091 Interim Order applications;
- 5,410 Divorce applications;
- 2,106 Consent Order applications,
with the average time to trial being 95 weeks!
Johnstone Crouse Lawyers' family law services include:
Separation can be an emotional, confusing and stressful stage in life which can cause major life decisions in relation to children, property and finances.
At Johnstone Crouse Lawyers we understand the importance of these decisions and the need to not stress about your legal team's capability, experience and responsiveness.
Our legal team aim to provide objective and informative legal advice to resolve matters as quickly and cost effectively as possible.
Going through a divorce can be a difficult time for all involved with emotions and stress often running high. Understanding the process of divorce and the required initial steps can be overwhelming.
Our team of experienced divorce lawyers in Perth and Joondalup have an in-depth understanding of the process and challenges involved, and can help guide you through your divorce.
What is the divorce process in Perth?
The Family Law Act 1975 is the relevant legislation that applies to marriages and de facto relationships throughout Australia.
Divorce only deals with the ending of a marriage. Parenting arrangements and property matters are dealt with by the courts separately. Please see Child Custody and Parenting Arrangements and Property Settlement for more information on these areas.
To help you understand the divorce process in Western Australia, we have outlined the main steps.
Step 1 - Separation
The first step to obtaining a divorce is separation. To be eligible to apply for a divorce, couples must have been separated for 12 months.
Separation can occur even if the couple are still in the same house.
Step 2 - Documentation
You will need to provide certain documents for your divorce application as required by the law.
With all marriages, you will need a copy of your marriage certificate. If you were married overseas and the marriage certificate is in another language, you will need to have it translated and have the translator complete an Affidavit.
With short marriages, if your marriage has been less than 2 years, both parties will need to attend counselling to attempt reconciliation. Once this has been completed and it is confirmed the parties will not reconcile, a counselling certificate will be issued. This certificate will need to be submitted with your divorce application.
If you have been separated but still living together (i.e. separated under one roof), you will be required to submit evidence regarding the change in the marriage. You will need to submit an affidavit from a witness, such as a close friend and/or family member, stating that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and you are living separately under the one roof.
Step 3 - File Your Application for Divorce
The next step is to complete and file your "Application for Divorce". This is a relatively straight forward document, providing the parties' details, marriage dates and separation dates and if there are any children under 18 years old and to ensure there are arrangements in place for any children under 18 years old.
You are required to file the Application for Divorce together with relevant documents at the Family Court. There is a filing fee of $865.00 (correct as of December 2017). You may be eligible for a reduced fee depending on whether you or your partner are in receipt of government benefits or a health care card.
Step 4 - Once You Have Filed
When you have successfully filed your divorce application, you will receive a Court date. This is known as the "Divorce Hearing" date. This date may be up to 3 months after the filing of your application.
Step 5 - Divorce Hearing
At the divorce hearing the Magistrate determines if your marriage has irretrievably broken down and determines if the parties have been separated for at least 12 months prior to the application for divorce.
If there are no children from the marriage under 18 years old or if you have completed a joint application, you are not required to attend the hearing. The hearing will be heard in Chambers and the divorce will be granted. This applies to both joint and sole divorce applications.
If one party has made an application (i.e. sole application) and there are children under 18, then both parties are required to attend the divorce hearing.
Step 6 - Divorce Becomes Official
If your divorce is granted at the divorce hearing, it will become official one month and one day after the divorce hearing. You will receive your Divorce Order in the mail from the Family Court approximately 6-8 weeks after your divorce hearing.
Between your divorce hearing and your divorce becoming official, you are not permitted to legally marry another person.
You are free to marry another person after your divorce becomes official.
Are there different types of divorce?
There are two main types of divorce application, namely:
- Sole Application - One party applies for the divorce and obtains a Court Date. Once the Court Date is set, the divorce application must be personally served on to the other party.
- Joint Application - Both parties complete the divorce application and file the document. No service is required on the parties.
It is important when serving the divorce application in sole applications that you meet the service requirements of the Family Law Rules 2004.
- Divorce applications must be personally served on the other party.
- Service of the divorce application must be by a person who is over 18 years old and not connected to either party.
- If the other party resides in Australia, then a successful service is to be met within 28 days of the Divorce Hearing date.
- If the other party is overseas then a successful service is to be met within 42 days of the Divorce Hearing date.
- The person who served the divorce application is required to fill out service documents and file them at the Family Court to prove service requirements have been met.
Can I oppose or contest my divorce?
There are two primary ways to oppose a divorce. You can oppose a divorce if:
- the separation date is in dispute and is less than 12-months; or
- the Court does not have jurisdiction.
Outside of this, there are limited circumstances in which you can challenge a divorce application.
To oppose a divorce, you will need to complete a Response to Divorce within 28 days of the application being served on you. You will also need to attend the divorce hearing. If you do not attend the hearing, the Court may decide to grant the divorce in your absence.
Are there time limitations?
For married couples the time limitation to finalise property proceedings is within 12 months of the date of the Divorce Order becoming final. If property settlement has not taken place by that time (or proceedings commenced at the Family Court) then you will need to seek the leave of the Court to make an application out of time.
For de facto couples the time limitation is 2 years from the date of separation. Once again, if property settlement has not taken place within that time (or proceedings commenced), you will need to seek the leave of the Court to file an application.
Best interest of the child
The best interests of the child must be regarded as the paramount consideration.
- the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child's parents; and
- the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.
- any views expressed by the child and any factors (such as the child's maturity or level of understanding) that the court thinks are relevant to the weight it should give to the child's views;
- the nature of the relationship of the child with:
- each of the child's parents; and
- other persons (including any grandparent or other relative of the child);
- the extent to which each of the child's parents has taken, or failed to take, the opportunity:
- to participate in making decisions about major long-term issues in relation to the child; and
- to spend time with the child; and
- to communicate with the child;
- the extent to which each of the child's parents has fulfilled, or failed to fulfil, the parent's obligations to maintain the child;
- the likely effect of any changes in the child's circumstances, including the likely effect on the child of any separation from:
- either of his or her parents; or
- any other child, or other person (including any grandparent or other relative of the child), with whom he or she has been living;
- the practical difficulty and expense of a child spending time with and communicating with a parent and whether that difficulty or expense will substantially affect the child's right to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis;
- the capacity of:
- each of the child's parents; and
- any other person (including any grandparent or other relative of the child);
- the maturity, sex, lifestyle and background (including lifestyle, culture and traditions) of the child and of either of the child's parents, and any other characteristics of the child that the court thinks are relevant;
- if the child is an Aboriginal child or a Torres Strait Islander child:
- the child's right to enjoy his or her Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture (including the right to enjoy that culture with other people who share that culture); and
- the likely impact any proposed parenting order under this Part will have on that right;
- the attitude to the child, and to the responsibilities of parenthood, demonstrated by each of the child's parents;
- any family violence involving the child or a member of the child's family;
- if a family violence order applies, or has applied, to the child or a member of the child's family--any relevant inferences that can be drawn from the order, taking into account the following:
- the nature of the order;
- the circumstances in which the order was made;
- any evidence admitted in proceedings for the order;
- any findings made by the court in, or in proceedings for, the order;
- any other relevant matter;
- whether it would be preferable to make the order that would be least likely to lead to the institution of further proceedings in relation to the child;
- any other fact or circumstance that the court thinks is relevant.
Equal Shared Parental Responsibility
The presumption is that it is in the best interests of the child for the child's parents to have equal shared parental responsibility for the child.
- Parental responsibility is full and independent
- Parental responsibility may be exercised jointly or separately
- Separation does not affect parental responsibility, but parenting plans or orders will
The presumption of equal shared parental responsibility does not apply if there are reasonable grounds to believe there has been child abuse or family violence.
The presumption of equal shared parental responsibility may be rebutted by evidence that satisfies the Court that it would not be in the best interests of the child for the child's parents to have equal shared parental responsibility for the child.
Useful documents available for downloading:
Binding Financial Agreements
What is a Binding Financial Agreement?
A Binding Financial Agreement is essentially a private contract that enables a couple to decide between themselves the division of assets if the relationship ends.
Binding Financial Agreements allow couples to deal with a range of property and financial matters and create certainty and security as to their financial relationship.
A Binding Financial Agreement signed before a marriage is also commonly referred to as a pre-nup or prenuptial agreement.
Why would I need a Binding Financial Agreement?
Having a Binding Financial Agreement gives you greater control and flexibility in determining financial arrangements in the event of a relationship breakdown.
Binding Financial Agreements prevent the Family Court from determining a property or financial dispute. This means the normal Court process will not apply, so the Court does not determine who gets what. With a Binding Financial Agreement you decide beforehand who gets what in the event of a split.
There are various personal reasons and circumstances in which you may want to protect your financial security with a Binding Financial Agreement. You may decide to get one if you:
- have children from a previous relationship
- have valuable assets you want to protect such as property and shares
- own your own business
- will receive a significant inheritance
- have relatives who are dependent on you
- are the beneficiary of a trust
What does a Binding Financial Agreement cover?
Binding Financial Agreements can cover a range of property and financial matters including:
- how property, finances and debt are dealt with when the relationship comes to an end;
- preserving assets, such as the family home for children;
- claims to inheritance;
- superannuation; and
- the payment of spousal maintenance.
When can I get a Binding Financial Agreement?
You can sign a Binding Financial Agreement before, during or after the breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship.
If you do not have a Binding Financial Agreement in place, the Family Court will assess the assets, liabilities and financial resources of each party and will ensure that any settlement is just and equitable in accordance with the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).
What are the advantages of a Binding Financial Agreement?
There are many advantages of a Binding Financial Agreement, including:
- Saving time and expense associated with Court proceedings and a trial.
- Providing certainty and security as to what will happen if the relationship ends.
- Protecting certain assets from future claims by a partner, such as inheritance.
- Preserving certain assets, for example the family home by keeping the property separate from any joint property so children can continue to live in the home.
Are there any disadvantages of a Binding Financial Agreement?
There are many reasons why someone may want to enter into a Binding Financial Agreement and it is important to understand what can go wrong.
When signing a Binding Financial Agreement, you should be aware of the following:
- There are technical requirements to ensure an agreement is valid and getting it wrong could invalidate it.
- The Family Court has the power to set aside a Binding Financial Agreement in certain circumstances including:
- if the agreement doesn't meet the legal requirements and is unenforceable;
- a change in circumstances makes the agreement irrelevant; or
- financial hardship in certain circumstances.
- A Binding Financial Agreement can suggest a lack of trust or a lack of confidence in the relationship. Raising it with your partner may be difficult but in the long run will ensure your future financial security.
Child Support Perth
After a separation or divorce, both parents are legally responsible for financially supporting their children. Child support, also known as child maintenance, is an ongoing regular payment made by one parent to the other to provide financial assistance for children under 18 following a divorce or the end of a relationship.
Child support can also be payable to a carer of the child such as grandparents, other family members and legal guardians.
Our family lawyers in Perth and Joondalup understand how child support is affected by parenting arrangements, property settlement and spousal maintenance. We can explain these connections to you and answer all your questions.
How much child support will I have to pay?
It is assessed by the Child Support Agency using a formula governed by the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth).
The formula is rather complex and depends on a range of factors including, but not limited to:
- the income and circumstances of each parent which may include the assets, earning capacity and other financial resources of each parent:
- who has primary care of the child and how much time the child spends with the other parent;
- whether there are any other special circumstances, for example the cost of caring for a child with special needs or higher costs associated with educating a child.
Click here to estimate your support payments using the Australian Government's Child Support Estimator.
What is a binding child support agreement?
A binding child support agreement is an agreement between parents or carers about support payments.
A binding child support agreement can:
- be made for any amount that the parents agree to and can include lump sum and/or periodic payments; and
- include payment of cash or other expenses, such as school fees or health insurance.
A binding child support agreement must be in writing, signed by both parents and can only be accepted if each party has received independent legal advice before entering into the agreement and a certificate is completed and signed by each party's lawyer.
How long will I need to pay child support for?
Child support ends when a child:
- turns 18;
- becomes "a member of a couple", for example if the child marries or starts to live with their partner; or
- on other terminating events, such as adoption.
A child who turns 18 in their last year of school may have their support extended to the end of that school year if the application for support is made before the child's 18th birthday.
Does a de facto relationship affect child support?
If either parent enters into a new de facto relationship with another person, it may affect the child support assessment.
There are also various other circumstances or changes which may affect support payments including:
- Your child turns 18 and is still in full time secondary school.
- The shared care arrangements with the other parent change.
- Someone else legally adopts your child.
- You and the other parent have another child together.
- You have another child with someone else.
- Your child marries or starts to live with their partner.
- You, the other parent or your child moves overseas.
- The death of your child, the other parent or carer.
If you and your partner get back together, support payments can be suspended for 6 months. After 6 months the support payments can be ended.
Can Johnstone Crouse Lawyers answer my child support questions?
Our family lawyers are experienced in all aspects of child support and can assist you with:
- understanding how your child support is calculated;
- reviewing your current child support assessment;
- objecting to a current child support assessment; and
- advising, negotiating and creating a Binding Child Support Agreement for filing with the Child Support Agency.
Johnstone Crouse Lawyers will work closely with you to navigate all challenges and ensure a financially secure future for your children.
Child Recovery Orders
Child Recovery Orders Perth
While there are many reasons for wanting to relocate, this does not give a parent the right to simply relocate without the other parent's permission or an order from the Court when children are involved.
Our family law team in Perth and Joondalup understand the importance of having a say in where your child lives and ensuring you can maintain a strong, healthy and meaningful relationship with your children.
What is a recovery order?
A recovery order is an order made by the court requiring the return of a child in circumstances where a party has relocated with the child without the other party's permission or an order form the Court.
Who can apply for a recovery order?
A recovery order in relation to a child may be applied for by:
- a person with whom the child is to live, spend time with or communicate under a parenting order;
- a person who has parental responsibility for the child under a parenting order;
- a grandparent of the child; or
- any other person concerned with the care, welfare or development of the child.
How long do recovery orders take?
An application for a recovery order will be listed for an urgent listing, which may even be on the same day as the application for a recovery being filed.
After hearing the application, the Court may make an order which allows or requires a person to return the child to you at a designated time and place. In some cases, the Court may make an order which authorises or directs a person or persons, such as police officers, to take appropriate action to find, recover and deliver the child to you.
Can I stop a recovery order?
Stopping a recovery order will depend on various factors, such as:
- The reason for relocating (e.g. financial improvement, greater professional opportunities, career advancement, improved lifestyle, stronger family support base and re-partnering or future marriage).
- The age of the child or children.
- The needs of the child or children.
- Whether there is a possibility for both parents to relocate.
In deciding whether to make a recovery order, the Court looks at at what is in the best interests of the child as the most important (but not the only) consideration.
My ex partner has taken my children overseas, can I get them back?
Australia has an agreement with some countries to return abducted children to their country of usual residence.
See a full list of the countries that are part of the agreement with Australia here
If you ex partner has taken your children to a country that forms part of the agreement with Australia, then it is possible to obtain an order in an Australian Court that can be enforced in that country.
How can Johnstone Crouse Lawyers help with recovery orders?
Our Perth and Joondalup family lawyers can assist you in making or responding to an application for a recovery order. Time is often critical and our team has the resources and capability to work 24/7 if necessary to ensure you get the legal support and advice you need.
Our team understands the urgency of these situations. We will handle your matter with sensitivity and responsiveness, giving you comfort and confidence during this emotional and stressful time.
Child Relocation Issues
Child Relocation Issues Perth
There are many reasons a parent may want to relocate after separation or divorce.
However, there are a number of considerations that must be taken into account when relocating if children are involved.
While the interests and desires of the parent seeking to relocate with a child will not be ignored by the Court, the main consideration for the Court will be the child's best interests. This includes the child's "right" to maintain a relationship with both parents.
Our family law team in Perth and Joondalup are highly experienced in all aspects of relocation and understand the importance of both having the freedom to relocate and having a relationship with your children.
Can I move away with my child after separation?
Relocating after separation will depend on various factors, such as:
- Whether the relocation will be intrastate, interstate or international/overseas.
- The reason for relocating, for example:
- financial improvement;
- greater professional opportunities;
- career advancement;
- improved lifestyle;
- stronger family support base; and
- re-partnering or future marriage.
- The age of the child or children.
- The needs of the child or children.
- Whether there a possibility for both parents to relocate.
How far can I move away with my child?
There is not necessarily a limit on where a parent can relocate to.
In some cases relocating from one suburb to another my be an issue and in other cases relocation overseas have been permitted.
Relocation cases are heavily dependant on the circumstances of each case.
Do I need permission to move interstate or overseas with my child?
You do not need permission from your ex partner to relocate, but requesting their permission is the starting point.
If your ex partner does not give permission to relocate, you will need to make an application to the Court to relocate.
Regardless whether the relocation will be intrastate, interstate or international/overseas, the Court will:
- Look at what is in the best interests of the child as the most important (but not the only) consideration.
- Examine the options or proposals each person has made for the arrangements for the child.
- Consider the reason for the proposed move.
I don't know where my children are, what can I do?
If you are unable to find out where your ex partner relocated to with your children from your own searches such as your family and friends, an urgent application can be made to the Court for a location order or a Commonwealth Information order. This will involve a notice being sent out to various government departments to locate your ex partner and children.
If your children have passports and you are concerned that your ex might be in the process of relocating overseas, an urgent application can be made to the Court to place your children on an airport watchlist to prevent your children from leaving Australia.
If your ex partner has relocated with the child without your permission or an order form the Court, then you can make an application for a recovery order.
A recovery order is an order made by the court requiring the return of a child.
Learn more about Recovery Orders here.
How can Johnstone Crouse Lawyers help with relocation issues?
Our team of family lawyers in Perth and Joondalup can help assess your situation and work with you to negotiate a satisfactory relocation outcome for yourself and your children. If necessary, we can assist you in making or responding to a relocation application to the Family Court.
Mother's Rights Perth
The end of a marriage or separation is a difficult and emotional time for many women. For mothers there is often added stress and worry about who their children will live with, where they will live, what financial support will be available and how decisions about the ongoing care of their children will be made.
Many mothers are concerned they may not be entitled to finances and assets from the marriage, particularly if they have not worked and earned an income during the marriage in order to stay at home to take care of their children.
We understand the rights and entitlements of women and mothers in Western Australian. Our family lawyers in Perth and Joondalup will assist and support you in obtaining the best outcome for you and your children.
Divorce and Separation Advice for Women - What you need to know
Divorce and separation are actually two different issues in the eyes of Australian law.
Divorce can only occur after you have been separated for at least 12 months and you must apply to the Courts to be divorced. You cannot apply for a divorce prior to 12 months of separation.
You are legally free to remarry once your divorce is finalised, which is one month and one day after your divorce is granted.
Separation is when you or your partner informs the other that the marriage or relationship is over. You do not have to wait for a specified time to commence property settlement negotiations or make parenting and child support arrangements.
As soon as you make the decision to separate from your husband or partner, there are some important steps you should take:
- Seek advice early from an experienced family lawyer.
- Copy and gather all your important financial and other documents such as bank statements, insurance policies, mortgage documents, suppuration statements, wills, etc.
- Change your passwords, pin numbers and security questions on all your online personal accounts.
- Pay off or close all joint accounts, if possible, or limit redraw facilities and don't add any money to join accounts.
- Don't post negative comments or images about the relationship or your partner on social media or email.
- Keep track of your husband's residential and/or work address, even if you no longer communicate regularly. This is important so the divorce application can be personally served as required by legislation. Not being able to serve the documents can cause significant delays in finalising your divorce.
Most importantly, try to keep your children's routines as normal as possible. This will be a difficult period for them and they need stability. Try not to argue or bad mouth your partner in front of your children and always put your children first.
What are the child custody rights for mothers?
Over time as gender roles have changed the assumption that the mother will obtain full custody of children is no longer the case.
The Courts look at the "child's best interests" when deciding who will have the the day to day care and control of the child. The "child's best interests" may, however, change over time and require a change in his/her living arrangements.
If I divorce my husband what am I entitled to?
Your entitlements are based upon an assessment of the asset pool of the marriage or relationship and your contributions to it. Contributions consist of initial and post separation contributions as well as any financial and non-financial contributions during the relationship.
The assessment will result in a percentage split of assets which will be the outcome of your property settlement.
Am I entitled to child support?
Child Support, also known as child maintenance, is a regular monetary payment to the primary carer from the other parent for the financial benefit of the child.
To find out if you are entitled to child support, you will need to make an application to the Department of Human Services - Child Support Agency to have your assessment processed. When assessing for child support, the Child Support Agency will consider various factors including you and your partner's income, the ages of your children and how many overnight arrangements your children have with each parent.
You can also look into a Binding Child Support Agreement which will provide regular payments to the primary carer as well as cover expenses such as educational fees, sporting registrations, medical expenses and any other type of expense that can be shared.
Learn more about Child Support here.
Am I entitled to Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is different to child support. Child support benefits the children whereas spousal maintenance benefits the spouse.
Applications for spousal maintenance must be made through the Family Court.
Each case is different as it is not just based on your financial needs, it is also based upon our partner's capacity to pay. There are many factors the Court needs to consider before making a spousal maintenance order.
If you are granted a spousal maintenance order, this can be as a periodic payment over a short period of time or a lump sum payment which can also be included in your property settlement.
Family Lawyers for Women
Johnstone Crouse Lawyers have worked with many women and mothers and understand the challenges you face. We can accommodate your specific needs during this emotional journey.
Our family lawyers in Perth and Joondalup can assist and guide you to ensure your matter is settled efficiently and with compassion and sensitivity.
Father's Rights Perth
Fathers are often anxious in the event of separation from their partner, worried about whether they will be able to spend time with their children. Many fathers want to play an active role in the life of their children and not simply become a "weekend dad".
In addition to parenting arrangements for the care of children, fathers may also be concerned about the division of financial assets and requirements to pay child or spousal support.
At Johnstone Crouse Lawyers, we work closely with men and fathers to help them understand their rights under Australian family law. Our team of lawyers in Perth and Joondalup have the experience, knowledge and expertise to guide men through family law system.
Divorce and separation advice for men - what you need to know
Divorce and separation are two different issues in law.
As soon as you know you are separating from your wife or partner, there are some important steps you should take:
- Seek advice early from an experienced family lawyer who can assist you in understanding your entitlements and explain the divorce process.
- Avoid angry or acrimonious communications with your wife, both written and verbal.
- Don't post negative comments or images about the relationship or your partner on social media or email.
- Be mindful of your finances and don't over extend yourself. You may be liable for child or spousal support and assets may be divided. So it is best not to make any large financial purchases or run up any large debts until all legal proceedings have been finalised.
- Keep track of your wife's residential and/or work address, even if you no longer communicate regularly. This is vital for serving the divorce application and other legal documentation. The Court may not be able to hear your application for divorce if it is not served in accordance with the law and there will be delays.
Most importantly, maintain a strong relationship with your children and continue to communicate regularly with them, especially if you are no longer living in the family home. This will be a difficult period for your children and they need stability. Do not argue with or bad mouth your partner in front of your children. Stay positive and enjoy your time together - putting your children first and making sure they are happy is your priority.
What are child custody rights for fathers?
Many fathers have felt let down by the legal system in Australia and left believing that the system favours the mother when it comes to the custody of children.
The Family Law Act 1975, which governs all children's custody issues and parenting arrangements, does not mandate that the care of children should be divided equally between parents. There is no rule that sets out where the children should live and how much time the children should spend with each parent. Each family is different. The primary consideration of the courts is that all decision and outcomes are based on the best interests of the child.
It would be ideal for both parents to agree on parenting arrangements but when it is not possible, parents must obtain a court order.
Your personal circumstances including your work situation may impact on the contact time you will have with your children. Your responsibility as a father and demonstrating your support in raising your child and your focus on your child will be viewed positively by the Courts.
Father's visitation rights
Gone are the days when fathers have limited options and can only see their children on the weekends or a fortnightly basis.
The law has significantly changed since 2006 and now many fathers now have the opportunity to have meaningful relationships with their children and be involved in their lives. The emphasis is on the welfare, safety and convenience of the children.
If I divorce my wife what am I entitled to?
Your entitlements are subject to the contributions you have made during the period of your relationship including an assessment of your contributions before marriage and after separation. Once contributions are determined on a percentage basis, an analysis of your future needs is assessed and adjusted accordingly by the appropriate percentage.
Family Lawyers for Men
Johnstone Crouse Lawyers understand me and fathers's needs during separation and divorce. Your needs will be addressed by our team of family lawyers in Perth and Joondalup who will draw from extensive knowledge and experience to tailor their advice for your personal circumstances.
We are aware of the issues affecting men and fathers and our capable and confident staff will work closely with you to deliver the best outcome.
Grandparent's Rights Perth
Grandparents are an important part of the family and can often play a significant role in a child's life. Unfortunately, when parents separate or divorce, grandparents may find they are not able to spend as much time with their grandchildren or in some cases are cut off completely. This can be devastating, for both children and grandparents.
Our family lawyers in Perth and Joondalup understand the rights of grandparents and can assist you in maintaining a strong and continuous relationship with your grandchildren.
What are grandparent's rights?
The Family Law Act 1975 ("Act") acknowledges the importance of grandchildren having a relationship with grandparents whether the grandchildren's parents have separated or still remain as one family unit. This does not mean the grandparents have an automatic right to their grandchildren as the "best interests of the child" is a paramount decision for the Court to reach.
The Act recognises children have the right to remain in regular contact with those who are important in their welfare, care and development including grandparents.
Grandparents do not have an automatic right to have time with their grandchild or to care for their grandchild however can apply to the Family Court for orders to enable this to occur.
The Child's Best Interests
The "children's best interests" are always the paramount consideration for the Court. The Court will examine, apply and make findings in relation to the grandchildren having a relationship with their parents and significant others in their life which includes grandparents and the need to protect the child from harm such as family violence.
Other factors the Court may take into consideration include:
- The degree of conflict and hostility between parents or grandparents.
- The physical and emotional needs of the grandchildren.
- The safety and welfare of the grandchildren.
- If the grandchildren hold the maturity, then the wishes of the grandchildren.
- The strength of the relationship between the grandparents and the grandchildren.
- The grandchildren's adjustment to new residences, schooling and their community.
- Any other issues the Court may find relevant.
Can grandparents get custody of grandchildren?
When the Court considers an application by a grandparent for custody, it needs to be aware of:
- Any family violence towards the grandchildren or towards the parent and if the grandchildren have witnessed this act.
- If one or both parents have alcohol or drug addiction problems.
- If one or both parents suffer from physical or mental health problems that may impact on the parent's capacity to care for the grandchildren.
- If the Department for Child Protection has been involved with the grandchildren due to Care and Protection matters.
The Act enable grandparents to seek Orders under the Act that would reflect custody orders, otherwise known as live with arrangements for your grandchildren.
Do grandparents have the right to see their grandchildren?
Grandparents, who are significant to their grandchildren's care, welfare and development are in a position to seek Orders from the Court to continue a relationship with the children. The parents can be separated or still together for a third party to apply for Court Orders.
The orders grandparents may apply for include:
- spend time arrangements with your grandchildren; and/or
- telephone contact with your grandchildren.
The type of application will depend on:
- your personal circumstances;
- your relationship with your grandchildren;
- your relationships with your grandchildren's parents;
- the nature of the breakdown of your grandchildren's family; and
- the nature and wishes of your grandchildren.
Can Johnstone Crouse Lawyers answer my questions about grandparent's rights?
We know it is upsetting to have reduced contact with your grandchildren. We also understand it can be extremely stressful when you have concerns about your grandchild's care or welfare.
If you need advice or assistance on visiting your grandchildren or formalising care options, our family law team in Perth and Joondalup can work with you to find out which application to the Family Court best suits your situation and the likelihood of a successful outcome for you and your grandchildren.
Same Sex Relationships
Same Sex Relationships Perth
When it comes to property settlement and parenting issues, Australian family courts treat same sex couples no differently to married and de facto couples. The only thing that had previously distinguished same sex couples was the fact they could not marry under the Marriage Act 1961.
On 15 November 2017 the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirmed Australia's historic "Yes" vote in the federal government's same sex marriage survey.
The first day same sex couples will be able to get married in Australia is 9 January 2018. As long-time supporters of marriage equality we are proud that marriage equality has now become enshrined in Australian law.
Same Sex Relationships and De Facto Relationships
People in a same sex relationship who choose not to get married can be considered to be in a de facto relationship, provided that they meet certain criteria.
Australian family courts treat same sex de facto relationships no differently to heterosexual de facto relationships.
What constitutes a same sex de facto relationship?
Section 13A of the Interpretation Act 1984 (WA) sets out the various factors used in determining the existence of a de facto relationship in Western Australia, such as:
- the length of the relationship;
- whether the parties have resided together;
- the degree of financial dependence or interdependence; and
- the degree of mutual commitment by the parties to a shared life.
Section 13A of the Interpretation Act also states that "it does not matter whether the persons are different sexes or the same sex." The de facto relationships of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people are all legally recognised.
Under the Family Court Act 1997 (WA), the Family Court of Western Australia may only make property orders in relation to a de facto relationship if:
- the parties have lived together in a de facto relationship for at least two years; or
- there is a child of the relationship under 18; or
- a party has made substantial contributions and failure to make property orders would result in serious injustice to that party.
Am I entitled to anything if my same sex relationship breaks down?
If your relationship meets the criteria for a de facto relationship, then the Family Court of Western Australia can make property orders, including orders on your entitlements.
Property settlement in a same sex separation is treated the same as any de facto property division in Western Australia and the division of property of a de facto couple is largely the same as the division of property of married couple.
The difference is in the apportionment of superannuation. In Western Australia, there is no right to split or roll over superannuation entitlements.
The limitation period for applying for de facto property orders in the Family Court of Western Australia is two years from the date of separation.
Johnstone Crouse Lawyers have represented many LGBT clients and we are proud to be a progressive, inclusive, forward-thinking legal practice that supports marriage equality and equality before the law.