The breakdown of the family unit, whether it involves children or not, is an extremely stressful time and it is important that you seek expert legal advice to ensure that you are provided with the correct advice to navigate the separation process.

The family law team at Wallace & Wallace Lawyers Mackay has both the knowledge and experience to guide you through that process.

Our team of lawyers is led by James Bailey, Queensland Law Society Accredited Specialist in Family Law and Partner of the firm. James supervises a team of family lawyers that includes Peta Krarup, Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi and Lara Tom.

Family Law Services

We provide expert advice in all areas of family law including:-

  • Divorce
  • Property Settlements
  • Custody Disputes (parenting arrangements, child maintenance, child support)
  • Paternity Disputes (DNA)
  • Relocation of Children and Recovery Orders
  • Complex financial matters including disputes about farms, businesses and trusts
  • Spousal Maintenance
  • Financial Agreements
  • Mediation and Arbitration
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Applications for Domestic Violence Orders (Protection Orders)
  • Breach of Domestic Violence Orders
  • Defacto and same sex relationships

Initial appointment – advice, costs, plan of action

Wallace & Wallace Lawyers’ family law team offers a fixed fee appointment for new clients of the firm. During the initial interview we discuss your family circumstances, provide some preliminary advice, provide possible action plans and provide an estimate of cost to achieve a solution.

Working your way through the maze of counselling, mediation, and the complexities of the court process, can seem daunting. Talking with one of our lawyers can help you pinpoint problems and map out a plan for you to move forward. Should you be unable to attend our offices we are also more than happy to arrange a telephone consultation to ensure your needs are met.

Part of a bigger team

We know that a relationship breakdown impacts your life in many ways.  For that reason, we also offer within the firm legal services in every field complementary to family law, reducing the likelihood of delays, costs or hassles in the resolution of your family law matter by facilitating easy access to additional legal services such as:

  • wills and powers of attorney
  • property sales and purchases
  • commercial
  • business structures and trusts

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a divorce?

Australia has a “no fault” divorce system. The only ground for divorce is the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. You only need to show that you have been separated for 12 months and that there is no reasonable likelihood of cohabitation being resumed (i.e. no likelihood of the parties getting together again). It is possible for a couple to have lived “separately and apart” for 12 months even though they still live under the same roof. The Family Court will however examine such a claim very carefully, and usually require a statement from an independent person to confirm the separation in those circumstances. If you have children who are under the age of 18 years, you must also demonstrate to the court that suitable arrangements have been made for their welfare.

Do you do no win no fee for family law?

The firm does not offer no win no fee in family law however we will defer payment of your legal fees in some property settlement related matters on certain conditions.

  • You must pay for your initial appointment so we can advise whether we can represent you on a deferred fee basis;
  • If we defer payment of your fees you will need to sign to acknowledge that you agree to pay our fees, how we charge our fees and our fee estimates.

If I have a parenting matter, can I defer my fees?

If you also have a property settlement, then this may be possible.

Are there other flexible payment options?

We acknowledge that lawyers are expensive.

Where you are not able to afford all of your fees up front we will work with you to try and make your fees more manageable.  After paying an initial deposit we may be able to agree that:-

  • you deposit regular amounts into our Trust Account for your fees;
  • your family or a new partner pay money towards your fees.

What if I only have a set amount I can afford?

Some legal advice and assistance is definitely better than no legal advice or assistance at all.

A better outcome can be achieved with a lawyer representing you the entire way, however this is not always possible.  We are able to provide limited assistance for specific agreed tasks throughout the course of your family law matter.

When meeting with a lawyer explain your available budget and your lawyer will be able to give advice on where to best spend your funds.

When is the best time to get legal advice from a family lawyer

It is always better to get advice as soon as possible to know where you stand.  Even waiting a few weeks after separation or after a problem emerges can make the situation worse.

Why get advice early?

To avoid mistakes.  We cannot undo mistakes or wind back the clock.  So often we wish a client had obtained legal advice sooner to avoid mistakes.

You need to educate yourself and find out the answers rather than guessing the answer or accepting the often incorrect (but well meaning) advice of friends.

There are many examples of why it is better to get advice sooner rather than later.  For example with:-

  1. Property Settlements – the value of assets and liabilities will change between the date of separation and the date the property settlement is finalised.  In different circumstances this will have positive or negative consequences.
  2. Custody – you may say or do something in your parenting arrangements (or custody arrangements) that you live to regret.  Alternatively you may not want to rock the boat and end up not doing something you should have done.
  3. Domestic Violence – the types of behaviour which are determined as being domestic violence are not well understood.  Getting advice early could result in avoiding the situation getting worse.

Sometimes people will see us before they have even separated.  This can often lead to a better outcome.

Our Approach

Our approach will depend on your circumstances:

  • we may only need to see you once;
  • the advice may be to do nothing or to wait;
  • sometimes you may need to do something urgently.

You will not know what is best for your circumstances unless you get advice.

So get advice as soon as possible.  Please contact us or book an appointment to see us.

How does the court decide whether there should be a 50-50 equal time shared care custody arrangement?

It all depends on whether a 50:50 equal time arrangement is in your children’s best interests and is reasonably practicable. The Family Law Act provides a list of considerations about how you determine what is in your child’s best interests and whether it is reasonably practicable. There are a range of things you can do to improve your chances of getting your children on a 50:50 basis. You need legal advice about your particular circumstances to see whether it is likely or not in your particular case. Get legal advice about the many things you can do to maximise your chances of showing the court that it is in your child’s best interests and reasonably practicable to have a 50:50 equal time shared care arrangement.

Following separation what responsibilities do I have with respect to a child?

The Family Law Act recognises the responsibilities of parents and that children have rights too, including:

– The right to know and be cared for by both their parents.
– The right of contact on a regular basis with both their parents and with other people significant for their care, welfare and development.

The obligation of both parents is to share duties and responsibilities for the care, welfare and development of their children. The Family Law Act encourages parents to agree about the future parenting of their children, and requires parties to participate in mediation and counselling to assist in reaching an agreement.

The Family Court will make parenting orders where the parents cannot agree what is best for their children. Parenting orders made by the Court include orders about where the children live (residence), who they spend time with (contact) and orders about parental responsibility and health, education, transport and other matters affecting children’s welfare (specific issues orders). A parent, a child or any person concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child can apply for a parenting order. Any orders must reflect “the best interests of the child”.

Both parents are also responsible for maintaining their children financially, and may elect to have their child support assessed through the Child Support Agency, or to enter into a private agreement. There are some restrictions which apply to private agreements and you should seek advice as to which of those restrictions may apply in your case.

What is spouse maintenance and who is entitled to it?

Spousal maintenance is an amount of money which one party to a marriage may be required to pay to the other party after separation. Child maintenance is an amount of money which is paid by one parent to another parent for the support of the child. Child maintenance is also called child support.

A spouse may have a right to obtain maintenance for themselves from the other party to the marriage after separation. A party to a marriage may be liable to maintain the other party after they separate to the extent that they are reasonably able to do so if the person seeking maintenance is unable to support themselves adequately because of:

– Their care of a child of the marriage under the age of 18 years.
– Their inability to be gainfully employed by reason of age, physical or mental illness.
– Any other adequate reason.

In Queensland when two people are living as husband and wife without being married, neither party has a legal obligation to support the other on separation. However maintenance or child support for a child whose parents are not married is treated in the same way as maintenance or child support for children of a marriage. Children of a defacto relationship are entitled to the support of both parents. Similarly, children of people who have never lived together are also entitled to the support of both parents.

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