Family Law News

Monday 27 February 2017 marks the start of a 2 week rolling list in the Sydney Registry of the Family Court where 11 judges will have listed before them almost 70 matters for hearing.

It is largely an initiative to address the dire shortage of family law resources and the consequent delays experienced by separating families in the court system. It is yet to be seen whether it will have any real positive long term impact on achieving timely family law outcomes for separating families who have been unable to resolve their matters amicably.

Achieving just and equitable outcomes in family law matters in a cost effective and expeditious way remains a challenge. More and more as a community we look to alternative means to resolve disputes. Mediation, Family Dispute Resolution, Conferencing and now Arbitration remain in the forefront of the minds of most experienced family lawyers in an effort to serve client demand. We simply want the best outcome for our clients and constantly strive to investigate and make use of strategies and forums to achieve that end.

On Saturday 18 February 2017 our family lawyers attended the latest Family Law Intensive Conference in Sydney. The day was well attended and again provided our professional staff with the support and up to date knowledge necessary to remain ahead of the game.

Dr Krabman spoke about family violence and options available for perpetrators of abuse and Federal Court judges and experienced family law barristers were available to share their insights into how the court must now operate so as to deal with the growing demands placed upon it.

The dedication of our professionals is a credit to each of them as they give up their personal time to ensure that the service we provide to separating spouses is second to none.

As a firm we continue to grow in size and are pleased to welcome Lucy Warhurst on board this month as a new addition to our family law team. We pride ourselves on being a strong and hardworking personal team and most importantly a team that is able to relate to and support our clients who face serious personal challenges in their lives

The many hundreds of clients whom we have helped over the years are the reason for our success and growth and to each of them we extend our sincerest thanks.

Despite the challenges that 2017 present, we remain optimistic that positive outcomes are achievable after separation and it remains a privilege to help, advise and represent people experiencing separation and divorce.

Well done Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

Family Law Consent Orders

Are you separating and looking to resolve things without going to Court? Do you need advice about entering into Consent Orders? Are you worried Consent Orders won’t address the specific dates that are significant to your family?

We know that there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer for separating families. Each family is different and accordingly, each family requires a tailored response.

At Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers, we appreciate that the holidays can be stressful time for separating families, particularly when young children are involved. It is for this very reason that we encourage families to address occasions of special significance when preparing Consent Orders.

Consent Orders can be tailored to the individual needs of your family and provide you with stability and predictability in an otherwise tumultuous time. Addressing occasions of special significance in Consent Orders also avoids the stress and conflict that can arise form trying to negotiate last minute arrangements during the holiday period.

We do our best to gain an understanding of the days that are important to your family so that we can prepare orders that address your families needs.

At Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers, our team has experience preparing orders that address parenting arrangements for significant occasions such as: Christmas, Easter, Chanukah, Passover, Yom Kippur, Chinese New Year, Ramadan and Eid to name a few.

We understand that for some families, preserving and sharing these religious traditions with their children is of critical importance. We also understand that parents want to share meaningful time with their children during these religious occasions, and we endeavour to negotiate arrangements that permit such time.

An example of arrangements made for Chanukah include:

1. That During Chanukah:

1.1.  If the children are not otherwise in the Mother’s care, the children will spend time with the Mother as agreed, and failing agreement, on the first night of Chanukah:

1.1.1 From 3:00pm or after school until 5:00pm the following day.

1.2 If the children are not otherwise in the Father’s care the children will spend time with the Father as agree, and failing agreement, on the second night of Chanukah:

1.2.1 From 5:00pm until 5:00pm the following day.

If you would like specialist family law advice in relation to preparing Consent Orders that address religious or cultural holidays that are important to your family, contact us at Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers on 94370010 or enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au to discuss in complete confidence. We are conveniently situated in St Leonards on Sydney’s Lower North Shore and have a team of experienced and caring professional Family Lawyers available to help you.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

How can I reach a parenting agreement after separation when there is family violence and child abuse?

Family violence and child abuse are often experienced in separating families.

Yet it has been our experience at Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers over the last 20 years that most family law matters, even the more difficult ones involving complex issues, can be resolved by consent.

How is this possible?

The Family Court is often asked to make parenting orders which set out arrangements for children to spend time with a parent against whom allegations of family violence and/or child abuse have been made.  In these circumstances the Court requires the parties to provide details of how the proposed Consent Orders address those allegations of family violence and/or child abuse.

Consent Orders can then be made by the Court without a contested hearing before a Judge. In fact only about 7% of separating couples have the misfortune of having to endure a final court hearing about their property or children’s matter after a separation.

This is even the experience for those separating families who have experienced family violence.

Your children’s best interests

In all parenting matters the child’s best interests are the paramount consideration. In deciding what types of parenting arrangements will best promote the best interests of a particular child the Court must consider all the factors set out in Part VII of the Family Law Act (1975). The factors comprise a detailed series of objects and principles along with two primary considerations and fourteen additional considerations that the Court must have regard to.

The first primary consideration is the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child’s parents.

The second primary consideration is the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm or from being subjected to or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence. The definitions of abuse and family violence are now, since the amendments to the Family Law Act on 7 June 2012, very broad.

If the two primary considerations are in conflict then the Family Law Act requires that greater weight be given by the Family Court to the safety of the child.

How can you assist the Family Court make Consent Orders in these circumstances?

Along with the primary and secondary considerations set out in the Family Law Act the Family Court is also likely to consider and will be assisted by you providing information and/or details in relation to matters including:

  1. The type of allegations that have been made – how serious are they?
  2. The extent of the child’s involvement in the alleged incident or incidents of family violence and abuse.
  3. What strategies have been included in the Consent Orders to address these issues? For example, are there provisions for supervision orders and if so what additional conditions are attached to this supervision.
  4. Is there any reason to believe that the intention of the proposed Consent Orders is to continue to exert control or make contact with the parent with whom the child lives? In other words, are the motivations for the proposed parenting arrangements genuine?
  5. Are there other relevant issues, e.g. issues of addiction, mental health or significant mental incapacity that may pose a risk to the child?
  6. Have the parties to the proposed Consent Orders received independent legal advice?
  7. Can the Court be satisfied that the Orders have been entered into voluntarily and without undue pressure?
  8. Is the person making the allegations of family violence and/or abuse genuinely satisfied that the Consent Orders do not present as an unacceptable risk to the child?
  9. If an Independent Children’s Lawyer has been appointed in the case, does that Independent Children’s Lawyer agree to the Consent Orders being made?

Further steps can be taken by the Family Court if it is not satisfied that making the proposed Consent Orders is in the best interests of a child.

These matters are extremely difficult to navigate, especially when the stakes are so high.  It is a highly charged area of family law which is extremely personal and sensitive to each of the parties. In these circumstances it is again wise to consider employing expert professional assistance and support along the way.

If you live in Sydney and are separating or involved in family law litigation involving your children and want to talk about how best to approach your particular situation then call us on 9437 0010 or email us on enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au We have Accredited Family Law Specialists available to speak with you at our St Leonards office situated conveniently on Sydney’s Lower North Shore.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers welcomes Nicole Pozovsky

Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers are pleased to announce that Nicole Pozovsky has joined our firm as a Family Lawyer.

Nicole completed her Bachelor of Laws at the University of Technology Sydney and has been working exclusively in the area of family law.

Nicole joins us having previously worked with two specialised Family Law firms on Sydney’s North Shore. This experience has familiarised her with the issues affecting the community and assists her in providing a tailored response to your needs.

Nicole’s experience has honed her skills in dealing with the issues affecting separating couples and achieving the best possible outcomes for her clients.

Nicole has a particular interest in Alternative Dispute Resolution practices to ensure the early and cost-effective resolution of Family Law matters. This can often be achieved through negotiating a settlement outside of Court and preparing Consent Orders to reflect the settlement terms. Consent Orders can deal with both parenting and financial matters, and can be tailored to the needs of your family.

The benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution include:

  • Timely resolution of your Family Law matter;
  • More cost-effective than court proceedings;
  • Less adversarial process with a focus on cooperation and reaching a resolution;
  • Ability to negotiate a settlement that is tailored to your family needs e.g. religious beliefs, traditions, work-schedule etc.

Nicole is experienced in drafting Consent Orders, which are legally binding and enforceable Orders that are mutually agreed by the parties.

Consent Orders are a cost-effective means of securing an equitable outcome, without the burden of lengthy court proceedings. Consent Orders can deal with most aspects of a settlement including:

  • The sale or transfer of a home or investment property;
  • The splitting of superannuation interests;
  • The sale of shares;
  • The reorganisation of business interests;
  • Equal shared or sole parental responsibility;
  • Setting out parenting arrangements including who the child/ren live with and spend time with;
  • Parenting arrangements during school holiday periods and days of religious significance; and
  • Issuing and maintaining the child/ren’s passports.

Nicole is focussed and dedicated to offering practical solutions to parenting and financial matters. Nicole’s Russian language skills are also a unique and much valued asset to our team.

Nicole can be contacted on 94370010 or enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

Family Law Balance Sheets & Financial Disclosure

Have you been asked to provide a long list of financial documents in your family law matter? Are you feeling overwhelmed about preparing your disclosure documents and don’t know where to start?

Each party to a Family Law matter has a duty to provide full and frank disclosure. This means that there is an obligation on each party to provide honest and accurate financial documents that evidence their current financial position. Typically, you will be asked to provide documents such as bank statements, tax returns, superannuation statements and payslips. For a more comprehensive list, click here.  Upon providing us with copies of your financial documents they will be reviewed and usually then forwarded to the other party’s solicitor.

Our tips when it comes to providing disclosure include:

  1. Provide full statements. Clients often make the mistake of providing account summaries. These will not be sufficient, as they do not show the activity of the bank account but only the final balance.
  2. Don’t provide screenshots of snapshots of your accounts. These images can be edited and modified. Instead, provide copies of the full bank statements, which can be obtained via online banking or from your financial institution.
  3. Label or group your documents. Organising your financial documents into groups or labelling the documents with post-it-notes will make it faster and easier for us to review the documents and send them on to the other party’s solicitor. This is ultimately more cost-effective for you.
  4. Don’t mark up the documents. If you would like to draw our attention to any particular matter or transaction, we recommend that you write your comments on stickers or post-it-notes and attach them to your documents. This is important, as we will need to provide copies of these documents to the other party’s solicitor and therefore, cannot include your comments.

Once you have exchanged disclosure documents, you may proceed to preparing a Balance Sheet. The purpose of preparing a Balance Sheet is for the parties to attribute values to all of the assets and liabilities of the relationship.  In order to prepare a Balance Sheet, you will need to itemise, describe and provide your value for each of your assets and liabilities.

If you are preparing a Joint Balance Sheet, the other party will undertake the same process in the column next to your values. This document will highlight if there are any discrepancies in your respective values and the source of the discrepancies.

A Balance Sheet is important in identifying the asset pool that will be available for division between the parties in all family law matters.

Our tips for preparing a Balance Sheet include the following:

  1. Only fill in the column that applies to you. The Balance Sheet will have two columns one that is labelled “Husband or De Facto Partner’s value” and one that is labelled “Wife or De Facto Partner’s value.” Only place your values under the heading relevant to you, as the adjacent column will be for the other party’s values.
  2. Provide current values. It is important that the Balance Sheet accurately reflects your current financial position. This means you will need to review your financial documents and provide the most recent values available to you.
  3. Provide evidence for your value. Where you have provided a value for an asset or liability that the other party does not have access to, such as a bank account in your sole name, you will need to provide them with a copy of the bank statement which corroborates the value you have given in accordance with your duty to provide full and frank disclosure.
  4. If you are unsure of the value of an asset, mark the asset ‘N.K’ for ‘Not Known’. This will identify the items that require financial disclosure from the other party or the items which require a formal valuation.
  5. Keep your value for ‘Home Contents’ realistic. The value attributed to your Home Contents should reflect the resale value of your belongings which is likely to be less than their value when they were purchased.

If you would like specialist family law advice in relation to your family law financial settlement or have been approached to provide full and frank financial disclosure in relation to your family law matter then please contact us on 94370010 or enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au to discuss in complete confidence. We are conveniently situated in St Leonards on Sydney’s Lower North Shore and have a team of experienced and caring professional Family Lawyers available to help you.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

Will my homemaker contributions count in my family law matter?

Are you facing a separation after spending 5, 10 or 20 years at home raising a family?

Are you concerned that the time you devoted to your children and the home for many years won’t be properly considered?

This is often a huge concern for many women and homemakers when they separate.

It is also a question that is often asked by many men who have spent countless years in their marriage going to work each day and earning an income for their family.

How does the Family Court balance and consider these different contributions?

If these questions are important to you, then read on…

The Family Law Act provides that the Family Court must assess all the financial and non-financial and direct and indirect contributions that are made during a relationship. It is only after this has occurred that the Court can determine a “just and equitable” property settlement outcome.

As family lawyers we are called upon each day to weigh and consider all of the particular contributions made in each family law case that we see to assist clients reach agreements about their financial and property matters after they separate.

The contributions that each party makes to a marriage can vary enormously.

It is often difficult to understand how the Family Court takes into account the different types of contributions that parties make to their overall matrimonial pool of assets and their family’s welfare during a marriage.

Moreover, some types of contributions are much easier to identify than other types of contributions. For example if you have been the primary breadwinner during the entire marriage then it is relatively easy to provide evidence of the direct financial contributions that you have made to the acquisition, conservation and improvement of the assets of your marriage. You can simply provide copies of your Income Tax Returns, bank statements and mortgage documents during the relationship as evidence of those contributions.

Spouses who have contributed say primarily as homemaker and parent often feel more unsure about how they can show the contributions they have made over many years. A parent who has made the school lunches for the last seven years of the relationship may have nothing to show for that effort but a child’s empty lunchbox!

The Family Court however does recognise these direct non-financial contributions as being significant and treats them accordingly, especially in relationships of long duration where children are involved.

Contributions of homemaker and parent are also regarded in a more direct way. By one spouse taking care of the house or the children the other spouse is essentially “freed up” to participate in the workforce in a meaningful way, earning an income that perhaps they would not have been otherwise been able to enjoy if they were required to take responsibility for the home front.

In brief, if you are experiencing a separation or contemplating a separation it is important to understand exactly how all your contributions to the marriage will be taken into account. It is also important to understand how your spouse’s contributions will be regarded. It is only when you receive proper expert family law advice about your individual family circumstances that you know where you are likely to stand should you experience a separation.

Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers is conveniently located in St Leonards on Sydney’s lower north shore and our family and divorce lawyers have been helping clients from all over the Sydney Metropolitan Area in relation to their family law matters for over twenty years.

The team at Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers will offer you no-nonsense, calm, clear advice and practical guidance and support in relation to all aspects of your family law matter. We understand that separating is difficult, stressful and adds another level of complexity to your life. We are committed to cutting out the “lawyer speak” and communicating with you in plain speaking English because we recognise that at this difficult time you need to be able to rely on a lawyer who you can understand and you need advice which you can easily follow. We also won’t waste your time or money “researching” what the answer should be in your matter because we are skilled family lawyers who practice in this arena every single day. We are respected by our peers for our knowledge, experience, expertise and approach. Your trust in us to provide you with top quality family law advice will not be misplaced. We can help you to resolve your matter so that you receive the best outcome possible in the most efficient and reasonably priced way.

Our team of highly regarded family lawyers and registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners at Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers can help you with all your family law needs. We are best placed to help you understand the contributions, both financial and non-financial, direct and indirect, to ensure that you secure the best possible outcome. So call us on 94370010 or enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

Keeping in control of your Family Law Matter

Not many of you would go into a travel agency and leave it up to the travel agent to choose your destination and your itinerary. Similarly, I have never come across a fellow diner who has left their entire menu choice to their waiter when they go out to a restaurant for dinner

Why is it then that when people separate they are prepared to leave even more important decisions, that is decisions about their children and their financial future, up to someone else, i.e. the Family Court Judge?

This question is perhaps not as important as the question of how you can ensure that the decisions about your family can still be made by you following a separation. How can you ensure that decisions are not left up to someone who ultimately does not know you and your family as well.

Some of the best ways that you can keep in control of your family law matter include:

  1. Fully understanding your legal rights and responsibilities. Knowing where you stand about all the relevant family law issues is crucial and it is best that you get this advice early and from a lawyer specialising in this area of law.
  2. Retaining the right family lawyer for you. Ensure that you choose someone who is not only recognised as a specialist in their field but also can relate to you and your individual circumstances. Each family is unique and it is important that you engage a family lawyer who provides personal service so you are well supported each step of the way and able to make the best decisions possible as you go.
  3. Ensuring that your family lawyer has a solid and respected reputation in their field. It is only when your family lawyer is held in high regard amongst their colleagues and peers that your legal position and your family law rights and entitlements will be able to be progressed and secured.
  4. Following the advice you receive from your family lawyer and any experts that are retained to assist you in resolving your matter. Family law is a multi-dimensional area of law touching upon psychology, accounting, actuarial studies, medicine and the like. The list is endless and you should not be expected to be a master of all relevant areas yourself. You need to defer to experts at times and feel confident relying upon their advice. After all, that is what they are there for.
  5. Be willing to compromise. It is unlikely that you will completely resolve your family law matter and secure the best outcome for your family without being realistic about the possible outcomes and being sometimes prepared to make compromises and sacrifices.

So, to recap, my five sensible suggestions to stay in control of your family law matter are:

  1. Get specialist family law advice early;
  2. Employ the best family lawyer who is right for you;
  3. Be satisfied that your family lawyer has a strong reputation;
  4. Follow the expert family law advice that you receive; and
  5. Be open to negotiate your family law matter.

With these strategies you will be in the best position to resolve the difficult separation issues that you and your family may face.

Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers are well placed to guide you through all your family law processes and help you keep control of your family law matter. We offer a personal and responsive family law service including family law dispute resolution and mediation services, and have a strong reputation in the family law arena. This, coupled with the wealth of knowledge and experience that we have allows us to help our clients in relation to all family law matters including parenting, property, divorce and separation. We provide clear advice about protecting your family law interests in both complex and simple matters. Conveniently located in St Leonards on Sydney’s North Shore, we are within easy walking distance of the train station. Please contact us on 94370010 or enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au to discuss in complete confidence. We are conveniently situated in St Leonards on Sydney’s Lower North Shore and have a team of experienced and caring professional Family Lawyers available to help you.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

Family Law Consent Orders

Are you wanting to have Consent Orders made?

If your answer is ‘yes’ then keep reading because this article explains the necessary steps in a way that is  easy to understand.

Family law processes can be difficult. Moving from negotiating about parenting and property matters to documenting a settlement is very important.  The team at Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers are best placed to assist you in relation to negotiating, documenting and implementing your settlement.

It’s true that the most difficult part of resolving a family law matter is usually negotiating the terms of the agreement. In property matters this may involve detailed conditions about the sale of a house or the splitting of superannuation entitlements. In parenting matters it will involve provisions for where the children will live, how much time they will spend with their other parent and how days of special significance (e.g. birthdays and Christmas) will be spent.

After an agreement has been “struck” and before it is made binding on the parties there are various steps that take place. Most, but not all, family law agreements are documented in Consent Orders. Consent Orders embody the terms of the agreement that you strike with your former spouse or partner about the issues that arise for your family after a separation. So, what are the steps involved in this process? Let’s take a look…we are frequently asked this question and to make it easier we have set out for you the most common steps that take place:

  1. Drafting the Consent Orders and the accompanying Application for Consent OrdersThis task is usually undertaken by the two family lawyers who have been employed by each of the parties. Typically one lawyer will prepare a first draft for input and comment by the other party and their lawyer. After all agreed edits and amendments are included the Application for Consent Orders and the Consent Orders are ready for the two parties to sign.
  2. Seeking all necessary prior approvalsThe most obvious approval required is the approval of a trustee of a superannuation fund in circumstances where the parties have agreed to split one or both of the parties’ superannuation entitlements. When a superannuation split is part of your family law settlement, the lawyer acting on your behalf will write to the trustee of the relevant superannuation fund providing it with prior notice or procedural fairness of the proposed superannuation splitting orders that are being sought. Particular funds can have specific requirements that must be met in order for the split to be made. The Family Court requires evidence in any case involving a superannuation split, that the fund has been afforded prior notice and approves the Orders in the form that they have been drafted in.
  3. Signing the court settlement documents

    Once the parties are satisfied with the documents and all prior approvals have been obtained the documents are ready to be signed. The parties take it in turns to sign one set of documents. It is not the same as a sale of a house where each party signs a separate contract which is subsequently exchanged.
  4. Lodging the Consent Orders in the Court

    The original signed Application for Consent Order and the signed Consent Orders and a sufficient number of copies are then filed in the Family Court and the relevant filing fee is paid.
  5. The Consent Orders are made by the Court

    After the Consent Orders are lodged in the Court they are referred to a Registrar for consideration. The Registrar is required to be satisfied that the Orders are just and equitable and otherwise proper in the case of a property settlement or in the best interests of the children in parenting matters. The details that are included in the Application for Consent Orders and any recitals that are included in the Consent Orders themself assist the Registrar with this task. Once the Court is satisfied that the Orders are appropriate they are signed and dated by the Registrar and the Court’s seal is affixed to the document. The sealed Orders are then returned to each party or, if they have lawyers, the party’s legal representative. This process can take as little as a few business days to as long as three to four weeks in some cases, depending on the resources that the Court has available to it at any one particular time.
  6. Implementing the Consent Orders

    The obligations that are then outlined in the sealed Consent Orders must be followed. This may involve the refinance of an investment property, the sale of a home, or the split of superannuation entitlements. Your family lawyer can assist you with this part of your family law settlement to ensure that all necessary steps are finalised.

Our team of highly regarded family lawyers and registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners at Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers can help you with all your family law needs. So call us on 9437 0010 or email enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au

We are conveniently located in St Leonards on Sydney’s North Shore.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

North Sydney Divorce Lawyers

Do you need an Accredited Family Law Specialist in North Sydney for your separation?

Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers have been providing divorce and family law advice and assistance to people from Sydney’s North Shore and North Sydney for more than two decades.

Our family law experts have assisted in the resolution of a wide variety of family law matters including:

  • Divorce Applications, both for couples who have been living separately and apart under one roof and those requiring substituted service on a spouse who is difficult to locate and/or serve.
  • Financial/property settlements, including assisting clients to disentangle themselves from complicated corporate structures and self-managed superannuation funds, and/or requiring input from independent professionals (such as accountants, expert valuers and financial planners) to ensure they are as tax-effective and low-risk as possible for the parties.
  • Parenting matters, including those requiring the proper documenting of informal parenting plans as agreed between the parties, contested issues before the Court (sometimes involving an Independent Children’s Lawyer or third parties), and allegations of abuse and/or family violence.
  • De facto matters requiring division of property and/or arrangements for the care of children.

Because we have been working with people from North Sydney for over twenty years we have come to know that North Sydney’s community has been changing. The 2011 Census has shown that there has been a steady increase in the number of couple families, both with and without children, in the area and a decrease in single-person households over the last twenty years. Overall there has been an increase in the number of families with infants aged 0-4 years now living in the North Sydney area. As well as this there has also been an increase in the number of retirement-aged people who are seeking to downsize but live near good transport amenities and whose family law needs are obviously very different from young families.

Our years of family law and divorce experience means that regardless of your personal situation, whether you are part of a couple, have children or are starting to enjoy your retirement years, our family lawyers can really provide sensitive guidance through the separation and divorce process because they are experts in their field and over the years they have “gone through” a variety of relationship breakdowns and family law issues with our clients. Whilst your experience of your separation will be very new to you, we are so familiar with this area of law that we are best placed to help you through your separation and divorce and the unique challenges this “change of life” experience can throw at you.

Whatever your circumstances may be, we believe it is of paramount importance that if you are contemplating or experiencing a separation or divorce you seek expert assistance and advice from a specialist family lawyer early. A Specialist Family Lawyer will give you proper guidance on how best to take the next steps on your post-separation journey and can assist you to develop a proper legal strategy to confidently approach your family law matter.

We believe that with our help you will be in the best position to negotiate and secure the optimal outcome that will work for you and your family whether it be in relation to actually separate or negotiating your property settlement or parenting matter. We will take the time to listen to your story and hear your needs. We can assure you that any advice and direction we give you will be tailored to your personal circumstances and your family’s needs.

The family law experts at Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers are committed to providing the highest quality legal advice to all of their clients and pride themselves on providing sensitive and personal service and support because we understand how difficult the separation and divorce process can be.

We will use our best endeavours to keep your relationship breakdown as amicable as possible and won’t contribute negatively to what is already a difficult time for you. We are professionals who will do our best to settle your matter using collaborative practice and avoid the court process wherever possible. The benefits of using the collaborative practice approach can be best summarised as:

  • giving you and your former partner the ability to have generous input in and control over your matter.
  • allowing independent professionals (such as accountants, financial planners, finance brokers and counsellors) to also have input into the family law process so that they can give you and your spouse practical assistance and support and enable you to each “put your best foot forward” post-settlement.
  • keep the overall costs down by attempting to settle matters via alternate dispute resolution methods such as negotiation (including attendance at roundtable settlement conferences), mediations and arbitrations, and wherever possible avoiding the court process.

However, as highly experienced family law experts we understand that sometimes some families/couples require the assistance of the Court to resolve their matter. If you need to approach the Court or defend proceedings commenced by your spouse you can rest assured that our experienced family lawyers are capable of providing you with strong court representation and are best placed to assist you in respect of arranging the preparation and filing of court documents and evidence for such proceedings and/or preparing you for attending Court.

Our Services:

  • A full range of Family Dispute Resolution and mediation services including collaborative practice. We can also provide parties participating in Family Dispute Resolution with s.60I certificates when required.
  • Preparation of clients for undertaking negotiations with their former partner or spouse and/or commencing in the family law court process;
  • All aspects of negotiating Property/Financial Settlements, including negotiating provisions for spouse maintenance, child support, adult child maintenance, superannuation splitting
  • Drafting and reviewing settlement documents including Consent Orders, Binding Financial Agreements, Deeds of Release in respect of commercial entities and Release Agreements in respect of future Succession Act claims;
  • Drafting and reviewing all manner of court documents including Applications, Responses, Financial Statements, Affidavits, Subpoena, interim applications etc.
  • Coordinating your family law matter with regard to estate and succession planning issues. Our family law experts can also provide you with practical advice about how best to protect your family’s assets against claims by third parties (including new spouses and second families) and protecting yourself against a future Succession Act claim.

Are you separated or thinking about separating? Do you need some expert family law advice about your rights or your responsibilities and where you stand? If you answered yes to any of the above then the team of highly regarded Family Law Specialists and registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners at Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers can help you. So call us on 94370010 or enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au

Our principal, Lisa Wagner is an Accredited Specialist who is recognised by the Law Society of NSW. As a result of her accreditation on the Accredited Specialists scheme, we can confidently say that our family lawyers are leaders in the family law arena on Sydney’s North Shore and accordingly we are one of the best-placed family law firms located near North Sydney to assist you to make the best decisions about your future based on the reality of your own personal circumstances.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

Keep Your Divorce Costs Down in your Family Law Matter

When you go through a divorce or separation there are always costs involved.  The emotional cost of separation and the costs of maintaining two homes can be really significant.  You need to do what you can to keep in control of the additional costs of legal representation.

Here are our TOP 7 TIPS to help you save money on legal costs if you are going through divorce or separation and you need a family lawyer in Sydney:-

  • Keep Your Eye On The Bottom Line
    Do your best to look at your divorce or separation as a business transaction as hard as that may be.  It does not make any sense to pay us $500 to get you something worth only $25.  Your frame of mind in divorce or separation can often be one of the most significant components of the entire case and can have a huge bearing on how the case is run and ultimately how expensive the matter is for you.  This is equally true of your ex-partner and spouse.  If you are facing a former spouse who is resentful or hostile towards you it is likely the action is going to take longer and your fees are going to be greater than what they would otherwise have to be.
  • Do Your Homework
    The more work you can do for us the less work we will have to do for you.  Generally we need a lot of information and you are our best source for this.  Completing checklists and questionnaires that we ask you to work on assists us to gather this information in an efficient way.  This is a really good opportunity for you to save money.  Completing this “homework” means we don’t need to gather the information from elsewhere.  This can save you a lot of money.
  • Be Your Own Legal Assistant
    Not only do we require lots of information from you but it is also usually the case that this information needs to be shared with the other side.  Being your own “legal assistant” and providing us with copies of documents means that we do not have to take time to copy documents and this can be a huge saving in overheads for you.
  • Your Divorce Lawyer is Not Your Counsellor
    Divorce or separation is particularly stressful and in our experience you need somebody you can talk with about the emotional issues you face.  We are not trained in this area and so engaging the services of a Counsellor to help you or relying on a friend may be a more appropriate alternative at times.
  • Be Open To Compromise
    Not many spouses “win” in a divorce.  It is more a question of how well the mutual loss is controlled.  Keeping a “middle of the road” approach often makes sense.  Being flexible and creative in your thinking and working towards a settlement rather than remaining entrenched in a position is a good headspace to be in.  The more amicable the conduct between you and your “ex” the more likely the matter can be resolved quickly which ultimately keeps your legal costs down.
  • Use Your Time with us wisely
    Like most service professionals (e.g. doctors, accountants) we bill in incremental units of time.  As soon as we start working on your matter you are charged in blocks of 6 minutes of time.  To help you maximise the efficiency of our billing system it is always best to plan ahead before meeting with us or talking to us on the telephone.  Save your questions for one conversation rather than ringing every time you have something on your mind.  This can result in significant savings for you.
  • You Get What You Pay For
    You should not forsake good legal support.  Hiring a professional Family Lawyer in Sydney is expensive.  However hiring an amateur divorce lawyer can cost you more in the long run.  Getting proper legal advice is highly beneficial and can reduce your stress by providing you with clarity about your rights in the legal process.

Your Action Plan:

  • Get legal advice early on from an experienced Family Lawyer;
  • Make notes along the way of the questions you want answered;
  • Don’t try to prepare complicated documents on your own. You may save money at the start but this can become more expensive later when we need to fix any mistakes that have been made in the absence of proper legal advice;
  • Don’t try to use litigation or protracted settlement discussions as a way to punish your “ex”.  Your ex’s past behaviour or even their present attitude may be unpleasant or even abusive but it’s best to concentrate on the bigger picture and secure a sensible agreement as soon as possible;
  • Provide full disclosure of all your financial interests.  A failure to disclose any financial interests can have a devastating effect on any agreement you reach with your ex and can also significantly add to your legal costs;
  • Keep us fully informed of all significant events but be aware – it’s not necessary to copy us in on the details of day to day interactions with your ex unless this is part of a “bigger” picture that is causing difficulties and needs a legal solution.

As your Family Lawyer, Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers take on our role with a strong depth of knowledge and experience, and with great respect for you our client.  We understand that you may be in a stressful and emotional frame of mind when you meet with us and because of this we want you to take the time to understand the above tips.  If you are able to take our tips on board we are confident that you will be able to keep your legal costs at a reasonable level and reach the right outcome for you.  If you are looking for advice about divorce or separation and have questions about the costs involved, contact us on 94370010 or enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au to discuss in complete confidence. We are conveniently situated in St Leonards on Sydney’s Lower North Shore and have a team of experienced and caring professional Family Lawyers available to help you.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.