Separation and Divorce – How Best to Weather the Storm

The North Shore of Sydney has been battered in recent weeks by unprecedented storms leaving homes and many families hugely impacted as 2019 draws to an end.  Property has been lost and tensions have flared as manageable commutes turn into nightmare gridlocks.

Coupled with the end of the school year and the Christmas/New Year festivities it is to be expected that many local families are feeling the heat.

If your relationship is already strained, then you may be contemplating separating from your spouse or de-facto partner.  Even if it is not something you are wanting, you may find yourself on the receiving end of news from your partner or spouse that they no longer want to keep the marriage going.

If you are in this situation then it is important that you do your best to be prepared and stay in the driver’s seat.  Calling us can make the difference to how you weather this different kind of storm. Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers has been assisting separating couples on the North Shore of Sydney and Sydney’s Northern Beaches for a very long time. So if you need a decent Sydney property lawyer we can assist.

The Principal, Lisa Wagner is a local resident, an Accredited Family Law Specialist, a nationally registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner and skilled in Collaborative Family Law Practice. Lisa has been successfully helping separating couples resolve their family law matters for nearly 30 years and leads a small, select team of experienced professionals who work tirelessly to ensure the best outcome for you and your family should you be facing a separation or marriage breakdown.

Why Choose Doolan Wagner?

Rather than hear only what we have to say – click here to listen to what some of our previous clients say;-


  How to choose the best Family Lawyer for you

 Choosing the right family lawyer is a very important decision to make.  To help you choose the right family lawyer for you please click on the links below to read some further helpful information:

What options are available to stay out of court?

 There are many paths to take when deciding how best to resolve your family law matter after you separate.  Collaborative Practice, Mediation and Arbitration, are just a few.   Every family law matter is unique and speaking to a specialist family lawyer is critical.  In the meantime if you want to view more information on some of these “out of court” options, please click on the links below:

However, if an out of court settlement is not possible we are experienced in representing you in court.


 What Will It Cost?

A divorce need not be expensive. Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers offers a no-obligation initial consultation at a fixed cost.

We pride ourselves on being cost-competitive whilst reflecting the specialist service and advice that we provide.

We are always available to discuss our fees with you and the likely charges that you will incur should you decide to retain us.

Please click on the link below to find out some further information on how to keep your family law costs down:

What is the Next Step?

Please call us.  We are open every weekday between 8.30 am – 5.00 pm and are conveniently situated close to St Leonards train station. Street parking is readily available outside our doorstep.

Importantly we are closed over the Christmas and New Year period, reopening at 8.30 am on Monday 13 January 2020.

In the meantime here is some information you may find useful from a few of the 2019 cases we have successfully handled this year.

Restraining A Person From Entering A Residence or a specified area in which a residence is situated

At times continuing to live in the same house as your ex after separation is near impossible. Coercive and controlling partners or even longstanding toxic dynamics which might impact children can prove sufficient to justify the exclusion of one partner from the matrimonial property. The restraints afforded in this way can be extended to the personal protection of parties if they have been married.  Looking at the particular circumstances of the cohabitation, including what housing alternatives an ousted party may have significantly determine the success of applications for exclusive occupation and ancillary relief.

Preventing A Parent From Leaving Australia

The Family Court of Australia has the power to prevent a parent from leaving Australia in circumstances where a child has been removed overseas. Restraining a person’s freedom of movement can be an effective strategy to secure the return of a child to Australia particularly when that child has been removed to a country which is not a signatory to the Hague Convention. In many ways, this is a remedy of last resort and so will not be granted by the Court lightly. Persuasive evidence must be presented to convince the Court that it is in the child’s best interests that such an order be made. In doing so, the court is likely to require details as to who is the primary carer and the effect on the child of any order that is made.

Separating Under The Same Roof

The high cost of living in Sydney often means that people stay living together in the same house after they separate. When it comes time to get a divorce people in this situation are required to provide extra evidence (in Affidavit form) setting out the circumstances of them living separately and apart under the same roof. This additional evidence must detail how one spouse communicated to the other that they regarded the marriage as over. Particulars of how the relationship then changed is also critical. A supporting affidavit from a friend, neighbour or family member is also necessary for setting out what they know of your particular circumstances. If the responding spouse objects to the Divorce Application proceeding a hearing by a Senior Registrar in the court may be set.

Who gets to keep the dog?

In Australia, Courts have a limited capacity to determine “living arrangement” for pets as there is no legislation that governs family law and pets. At present, pets are dealt with as “property” in the Family Court of Australia and accordingly, would be subject of a property order like any other items of property including real estate and furniture.  In circumstances where you and your partner or you and your children are all very attached to your family pet, one option which may be favourable to you is to negotiate Orders relating to your pet to allow you to share the possession of the pet. For example, the pet may live with you whilst the children are in your care and with your ex-partner while the children are in their care. This is just one option available to you and we would invite you to come and speak with us if you are experiencing difficulties determining who your family pet will live with.

Does delay in resolving your family law matter, matter?

The short answer is yes. You have one (1) year from the time of your Divorce Order becoming effective to file an Application seeking property orders with the Court. If you have been in a de facto relationship, you have two (years) from the date of separation to file an Application seeking property orders. In the event that you do not file within these time frames, the Court may not hear your case. You will need to seek leave pursuant to Section 44 (3) of the Family Law Act to have you Application heard “out of time”. If you have separated but are not intending to settle matters by way of entry into Consent Orders, we recommend that you seek legal advice.

Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers offer specialist family law advice in St Leonards on Sydney’s North Shore.  If you have recently separated or have a Family Law enquiry, please contact us on (02) 9437 0010 or send us an email at to discuss your matter in complete confidence.  We have a team of experienced and caring professional family lawyers available to help you in this difficult time.

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.

Find out how we can help you

Personalised advice with no obligation
Call us on (02) 9437 0010