Posted on: 18 August 2021
To understand the role of family law solicitors, it is first necessary to understand what family law involves and the legal structure that underpins it in Australia.
What Is Family Law?
Family law covers all aspects of disputes that occur when a marriage or relationship breaks down. This can include a divorce or separation. A main area of concern is what happens to any children who are involved. This can include issues such as custody rights, visitation rights, or potential fostering or adoption needs.
Financial settlements are also part of family law, which can often be quite complicated. However, the financial needs of any children need to be taken into account, potentially over quite a long time. Family law can also include the darker aspects of a relationship breakdown, which can include domestic abuse, child abuse, neglect and the need for some type of guardianship.
The Family Law Act
The Family Law Act 1975 is the main source of legislation that covers family law in Australia. Whilst it has many provisions, its main focus is to ensure that the rights and needs of any children involved are protected and cared for.
Involving a firm of solicitors at the outset can be a good idea, as they can offer both practical and legal advice throughout the whole process. Many firms of family law solicitors offer a 24-hour freephone service, and many offer a free consultation at the outset which can provide help and understanding as to what the Family Law Act involves.
Mediation can be formal or informal, can involve family or friends (although this can be quite testing) or someone completely independent. The intent is always the same, which is to try and resolve all the practical issues involved in the relationship breakdown, without the need to go to court. Almost everyone recognises that it is a good idea to try and avoid a formal legal route if possible, and mediation is always seen as a good first step if it is practical.
Family Dispute Resolution
Family Dispute Resolution, commonly known as FDR, is a more formalised type of family mediation and involves an independent person, known as an FDR practitioner, who will have been formally trained in various aspects of mediation and negotiation.
Again, the role of a family law solicitor can be fairly crucial at this stage of the proceedings, as they will understand this process well and can give practical advice at all stages of mediation.
Parenting Agreement/Parenting Orders
The ultimate aim of all involved is to hopefully come to some type of parenting agreement. This will be a binding document on all sides that focuses on the needs and well-being of any children involved.
It should include both practical considerations for the child, such as daycare and schooling arrangements, as well as more long-term issues such as educational needs, cultural needs and the safety of the child. The child or children's views should also be taken into account from the outset and given proper weight where appropriate.
Reach out to a family law solicitor for more information.Share