What are Family Law Solicitors and When Should I Use One?

14th February 2022

Family separation and divorce can be some of the most challenging and emotionally complicated periods in a person's life. For most people, the world they have built gets turned entirely upside down.

There are endless decisions to make, as well as financial and relationship changes to navigate. When children are involved, the process becomes even more complex.

A family law solicitor can provide the legal expertise and advice to reduce your stress throughout the process. Hiring a solicitor can ensure former partners come to agreements that work in the best interest of everyone.

Here is everything you need to know about family law in Australia and how to find the best Brisbane family law solicitors.

What Is Family Law?

Family law in Australia is a system of federal laws regarding marriage as well as de facto relationships. These laws typically have the most impact once the relationship has ended.

Laws

The most important of these laws include the Marriage Act of 1961, the Family Law Act of 1975, the Child Support Registration and Collection Act of 1988, and the Child Support Assessment Act of 1989.

The Marriage Act of 1961 was enacted to regulate marriage law in Australia. It was amended in 2017 to legalise same-sex marriages.

The Family Law Act of 1975 recognises de facto relationships, it also governs what happens after a marriage ends regarding the division of property, finances, and parenting duties.

Each of the child support acts deals with the financial responsibilities of separated parents. Learn more about Australia's child support acts here.

Implementation

Australia's family law system promotes a framework that encourages couples to come to an agreement about how to resolve their issues on their own. However, some situations require more assistance.

In the event a couple cannot reach an agreement, these laws provide the principles the court must apply in order to reach a resolution. The goal of the court is always to make decisions in the best interest of the children.

In order to get a divorce, there needs to be a total and unresolvable breakdown of the marriage. The law requires the couple to undergo a year-long trial separation period beforehand, as well.

Finally, the law dictates a five-step process get applied to the division of property and finances. The law prioritises justice and fairness in these decisions.

When Do I Need a Family Law Solicitor?

When a marriage ends on less than peaceful terms it can be difficult for a couple to come to an agreement about how to separate their lives. A family law solicitor can help navigate a variety of different issues.

Child Support

When parents separate, there is a child support framework that comes into play. This framework dictates how the couple's children will receive financial support for their wellbeing.

Child support payments typically last until children reach age 18. It's very important that separated parents find an agreement that protects the interests of the children.

A family law solicitor can answer your questions and provide the guidance you need to make sure you are paying or receiving the correct amount of child support.

The laws determine the amount of child support based on the number and ages of the children. They also take into account each parent's income and the amount of money they need to support themselves and their children.

Without a legally binding child support agreement separated parents leave themselves and their children financially vulnerable.

Spousal Maintenance

The end of a marriage often presents financial difficulties for everyone involved. Former partners may experience an increase in their daily living costs. They may experience income reductions as well.

If you were completely reliant on your former partner's income, the loss of that support can be debilitating.

It's actually very common for one partner to be the main earner. The other partner earns a much smaller income or no income at all.

The good news is, if divorce has left you unable to meet your financial needs (within reason), it is possible to seek financial support from your former partner. This financial support is called spousal maintenance.

Property Settlement

Dividing property after a divorce can add incredible stress to an already challenging situation. You may be forced to decide who stays in the home you once shared. In some cases, the only choice is to sell the home.

You may end up needing to sell assets you spent a lifetime together acquiring.

On top of the emotional challenges that come with splitting up marital assets, there is your financial future to think about. The portion of the assets you retain can have significant consequences immediately and long term.

A family law solicitor will make sure you get your fair share in the property settlement.

Parenting

Getting a divorce is more complicated when there are children involved. Children are very sensitive to relationship dynamics. They feel the impact of conflict and separation.

It is of the utmost importance to protect children during this transition.

There are also many questions parents need to answer when divorcing. They need to determine where and with whom the children will live.

They may need to decide who will get legal custody and who will pay child support. If the parents are sharing custody, they will need to create a custody agreement. There are many important rules to define.

A family law solicitor can help guide you through the process so you are sure to cover all the necessary considerations.

What Does a Family Law Solicitor Do?

A family law solicitor provides legal advice to married couples and de facto partners who are getting a separation or divorce. A family law solicitor helps the former partners navigate the family laws that apply to their situation.

When problems and disagreements arise, a family law solicitor helps the couple find practical legal solutions that suit the needs of both sides.

What Is the Difference Between a Lawyer and a Solicitor?

A lawyer is any person with a valid law degree who can give legal advice. Solicitors, barristers, and legal executives are all different types of lawyers.

A solicitor is a lawyer who is trained in specific areas of the law. They give legal advice to clients on different topics from family law to immigration to human rights and more.

The main services a family law solicitor offers include providing legal advice, drafting legal documents, filing required paperwork, and contracting other parties.

What Is the Difference Between a Barrister and a Solicitor?

Barristers are lawyers that specialise in representing clients at court. It is common for solicitors to contract a family law barrister for legal advice when a client's legal case goes to court.

How Much Does a Family Law Solicitor Cost?

When you decide to hire a family law solicitor to help navigate your divorce or separation, you'll have a lot on your mind. One of the biggest questions you may be asking yourself is how much the lawyer's services will cost.

It is impossible to say exactly how much your particular solicitor and case will cost. But it is possible to give you a good idea of the kinds of costs you might incur.

Hourly Rates

Many solicitors charge an hourly rate for their services. These rates vary between lawyers based on experience and expertise.

At the low end, a solicitor might charge $300 an hour. This would typically be a new lawyer with two years of experience or less. To retain a solicitor with decades of experience, you might be paying closer to $600 an hour.

Fixed Fees

Some solicitors prefer to charge a fixed rate fee for their services. This type of payment structure is advantageous because you know exactly how much you are spending.

A fixed fee is one set price for a specific type of legal service. You decide which services you want and the lawyer tells you what they will charge. Even if you spend many hours with the lawyer, your cost won't increase.

Most often, only the most experienced lawyers are able to offer fixed rate fees. This is because they have the expertise and years of experience to know exactly how much work they will need to do on your case.

An infographic about the cost of divorce in Australia

Who Are the Best Family Law Solicitors?

Navigating a divorce is difficult enough without getting stuck working with a solicitor that doesn't feel right to you. When hiring a lawyer, it is important to first know what you want.

Shop around and interview several different solicitors before deciding on one. It is imperative that you find the person who can offer you the best legal advice for your situation.

The best family law solicitors exude kindness and a desire to achieve a fair resolution for all parties involved. You should get the sense right away that the solicitor you choose is honest and worthy of your trust.

You also want to make sure the solicitor has specific experience with cases similar to yours. Hiring a lawyer fresh out of school might save you money, but it is unlikely they will be able to provide you with high-quality advice.

Koolik and Associates Lawyers formed out of the desire to help families navigate life’s most difficult emotional challenges. We strive to facilitate open communication with our clients and minimise as much stress as possible.

Find a Family Law Solicitor Today

A family law solicitor is a great asset when it comes to managing the complex emotions and decisions surrounding divorce and separation. A good lawyer will provide the legal advice you need to come to fair agreements.

Looking for Brisbane family law solicitors? Contact Koolik and Associates Lawyers to learn more about our family law services or schedule a consultation.

Please note the contents of this post is information only and not legal advice. 
If you require legal advice it is best to contact one of our lawyers who can review your particular circumstances and then provide tailored advice according to your needs.

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