If you’re thinking of separating from a spouse or partner, you’ve probably got family law questions, especially when there are children involved.
Family law is a complex area of law, and we come across lots of family law questions all the time. Below we have compiled a wide range of common family law questions that we hope will help you understand this area of the law better. Of course, for tailored advice, make sure you contact one of our friendly family lawyers!
Family Law Questions
1/ Can I change my child’s last name?
Many families argue over the child’s last name, especially if one parent wishes to no longer be a part of the child’s life. The Family Law Act 1975 does not state any specific rules on a child’s name, however the courts can order for the child to be known under a certain name. The specific circumstances of each case will determine when and why a court might make such an order.
It is interesting to note that as the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages is not a party in the case, they are not bound to follow any set order from the Family Court.
2/ How do I divide my assets?
There is no set rule, and this is often an increasingly difficult process to attempt on your own. You’ll also need to make sure that any property settlement is legally binding, which may not be the case if you try to do it yourself. A family lawyer will help you make a list of all of the current assets, liabilities and superannuation of each of the parties to arrive at a net figure, or what becomes known as the “net property pool”. An assessment will be made of the contributions of each of the parties throughout the relationship, to the net property pool and to the welfare of the family. Any property settlement will also need to take into account the current and future circumstances of each of the parties.
3/ Should I inform the court on matters of family violence?
You should always tell the courts about matters of family violence and whether there are any domestic violence orders in place. This will help the court on many decisions; including custody arrangements, financial decisions and other major decisions that will impact the family unit.
In circumstances in which you do not inform the court, the court may make a decision that can reflect unfairly on you or lead to an unsafe environment for your children.
4/ Can a grandparent have a right to see the child?
Under Australian law, a grandparent does indeed have legal rights. If a grandparent wants to spend time with the child but have been denied by a parent, they may apply to the family court. However, it is recommended that the grandparents first seek mediation with the parents.
The courts will make a decision based on the best interests of the child. They will also look at other factors such as how much time have they spent together previously, how important the grandparents are in the life of the child and whether any disputes exist between the families.
5/ I am not spending any time with my child; do I still need to pay child support?
The simple answer is yes. If you are not present in your child’s life, you are still expected to pay child support. A court will assist in deciding how much you must pay. If you feel that you are denied the right the see your child by the other parent, you can apply to the court for legally binding parenting orders.
6/ I want to apply for divorce, but I am not in Australia. Can I still do it?
No. Anyone applying for divorce in Australia must be an Australian citizen and have lived in Australia for at least 12 months.
7/ Is telling the school about the divorce a good idea?
It is important to notify the daycare, childcare provider or school about the family situation. You do not have to go into depth about the circumstances but just letting them know of any specific custody arrangements will allow for them to look out for the welfare of your child.