DOOLAN WAGNER - family lawyers sydney

Separation Lawyers Sydney

Separation can be an emotionally stressful time – we help you move forward


Doolan Wagner can guide you through the decision-making process, by helping you to decide how you would like to manage many of the practical aspects of your separation — from dividing assets to deciding where you will live and how parenting arrangements might work.

Many of these practical decisions can be difficult for couples to properly consider when emotions are heightened. This is where we can help. Our experienced separation lawyers can take you through the possible scenarios, and offer practical and legal advice as to how best to achieve an amicable and favourable solution.

We can give you an assessment of how the Courts are likely to view your relationship and the factors it is likely to consider should your matter need to progress to litigation. Having this understanding, and being fully prepared, will help you to avoid lengthy and costly legal processes where possible, and give you more control over your future.

We are a firm of confident litigators, who do not succumb to intimidating tactics. Our approach is always to seek a positive solution, and we are willing to hold strong for the interests of our clients if need be.

Separating under one roof

In certain instances, your matter may be complicated if you wish to separate but continue to live under one roof. If you are contemplating this, please contact us so you fully understand how these living arrangements may affect the finalisation of your matter.

It is also important to note that, if you are receiving any government payments, separation under one roof could also affect those payments.

In certain instances, your matter may be complicated if you wish to separate but continue to live under one roof. If you are contemplating this, please contact us so you fully understand how these living arrangements may affect the finalisation of your matter.

It is also important to note that, if you are receiving any government payments, separation under one roof could also affect those payments.

Also read: Separation Under One Roof

Are You In A De Facto Relationship?

In Australia, more people are choosing to live together without getting married. When you separate, how your relationship is defined can have a significant impact on how your property and assets might be divided, and whether maintenance can be applied.

With De Facto Relationships being treated increasingly like marriages, with the same ability to have the court make determinations, it’s important to know both your rights as well as your responsibilities.


Separation: important points to remember

No two matters are the same

We understand that no two matters are the same. We will assess your particular circumstances and provide you with tailored legal advice to move forward with confidence.

Early specialist advice can be an invaluable investment

Having the benefit of early specialist legal advice from one of our experienced separation lawyers will help you gain a good understanding of how best to protect all your interests moving forward.

Staying in control during your separation is critical

We ensure that you stay in control of your matter by mapping out all reasonable options and guiding you every step of the way.  Staying in control during separation will mean that you obtain the best possible final outcome for you and your family.

Keeping level-headed and on track can set you apart

We understand that separation can be an emotionally difficult time, particularly in circumstances which involve children or complex property matters. This is where we step in.  We help you stay well on top of your matter by ensuring that you fully understand all possible options, rights and obligations. This will help you stay level-headed and on track.  Knowing what to expect and how best to navigate challenges keeps you on the right path.

Plan, plan and plan

Our aim is to help you achieve a tailored and favourable outcome in an efficient manner. Everyday we advise clients in relation to their options, rights and obligations during and after separation. Given that we are experts in this field, we can quickly identify the important aspects of your matters and help you secure a quick and favourable outcome.

Also Read: Separation Checklist

Separation Lawyers FAQ's

What are the first steps involved in the separation process between couples?

Separation is widely recognised to be one the major stresses that anyone can face. It is second only to facing the death of a loved one. Taking the time to gather your thoughts and then seeking good advice before you do or say anything is crucial. Once this is underway, you are better equipped to decide what is the best path ahead for you.

How do I do separation right?

Separation takes its toll on every aspect of your life. It’s therefore important to:

  1. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally and seek help if you are slipping.
  2. Remember to keep your children’s best interests foremost in your mind.
  3. Be realistic that it is likely to take some time before everything will be sorted out and you will be able to move forward with confidence.
  4. Reassess your expectations. You separated for a reason so things are likely to be different. Expecting the same will only lead to disappointment.
What is there to know about the separation process?

Initially the best thing to know is where to go for help. Choosing the right separation or divorce lawyer for you can make a big difference to the outcome of your matter. Knowing what questions to ask is also really important. Write a list of questions for your lawyer so you leave the meeting fully informed.

What should I avoid during the separation process?

It’s very tempting to rely on friends for advice when times get tough. However don’t mistake your friend’s opinion for sound and reliable family law advice. Trying to manage the fallout of a separation yourself is probably short sighted. In brief, don’t think that you need to go it alone.

Will separation from my partner end up badly?

Nearly all separation law matters settle without the need for a final hearing in the Court. Litigation should be considered as a last resort for most families. With the help of a good  collaborative family lawyer you can reach a sensible and workable agreement with your ex most of the time.

How can I stay in control during the separation process?

Five of the best things that you can do include:

  1. Get expert advice early.
  2. Gather all the facts and documents.
  3. Stay focussed on the outcome you want to achieve and don’t get sidelined by distractions.
  4. Balance this challenge with your day to day life.
  5. Ask questions if you are unsure of what the “next steps” are.
What will I tell the kids when I intend to separate from my wife, husband or partner?

Choosing the right time to tell your children that you are separating can almost be as important as what you actually say to them. When the opportunity presents itself keep the message simple. Avoid blaming the other parent and provide lots of reassurance. Having a plan, even for the immediate future can be comforting for children at this time.

What will the separation process cost?

Separation and divorce can be expensive. Getting the best advice upfront can help you save thousands of dollars. We offer a no-obligation fixed fee initial consultation. Every one of our clients reports back to us that the meeting with us was invaluable. Your children and your finances are two of the most important things in the world. A relatively small investment initially can make a big difference to the outcome in the end.

Q: What’s the difference between a Parenting Plan and Parenting Orders?

A parenting plan is a written agreement that sets out parenting arrangements for your child(ren). These arrangements are usually determined by you and your former partner privately at mediation or following some negotiation. If you and your former partner want to vary your Parenting Plan, you are able to do so at any time. However, it is important to note that a Parenting Plan is not a legally enforceable agreement and is not binding on parties.

Parenting Orders are arrangements that have been approved by the Court and as such are binding on both parties. Parties are able to vary the arrangements outlined in the Orders, provided both parties consent.   In the event there is disagreement regarding the Orders, you or your former partner can make an application to the Court seeking that the Orders be varied or set aside. There is a high threshold parties need to satisfy the Court in order to vary or set aside Orders.

My partner and I have split up and I want to move interstate / overseas with my kids. And what about travel? Do I need my partner’s permission?

The short answer is yes.

There are laws in Australia regarding relocating with children. These laws apply even if there are no formal Court Orders that govern any agreement you and your former partner may have reached regarding parenting. Therefore, if you are seeking to move overseas or interstate with your children, this should be discussed and negotiated with your former partner. Moving overseas or interstate falls under the umbrella of “parental responsibility” as it is a major long-term decision that will impact your children. If there is no agreement, then you may be required to file a relocation Application in the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court.

Additionally, if you and your partner have separated it is best to ask for their permission to take your children interstate or overseas, even if it is only for a short holiday. Providing your partner with notice and an itinerary of travel will assist in reducing any fears your partner has that you may not return the children and is also a good co-parenting approach.

If you intend to relocate or travel with your children without the other parent’s permission, you should seek legal advice prior to doing so.

If your children are taken overseas or interstate without your consent, you should seek legal advice immediately.

Can parenting orders be varied?

The Court is usually reluctant to vary parenting orders. However, in circumstances where both parties consent to the change or the Court determines it is appropriate to change the Orders, your final parenting orders can be varied.

In order for the Court to vary an existing parenting order it must be satisfied that there has been a significant change in circumstances. Examples of what constitutes a significant change of circumstances may include one of the following:

  1. If either you or your former partner is seeking to relocate with your children;
  2. If the current Orders were made without all the relevant information having been made available to the Court prior to the making of those Orders;
  3. If you and your former partner have since consented to new parenting arrangements, such as entered into a parenting plan and the current Orders are no longer reflective of the actual arrangements for your children;
  4. If a substantial period of time has elapsed between the Orders being made and the Application being brought;
  5. If there have been allegations of abuse;
  6. If you or your former partner, or one of your children are in ill health.

If one of the above circumstances applies to you, the Court will carefully consider what is in the best interest of your children prior to varying your parenting orders.

Do I still have to pay child support even though the kids are living with the other parent?

Yes, you do. Whether or not the children live with you or the other parent, both of you are responsible for the financial support of your children. The amount that would be payable, however, is largely dependent upon the number of nights that the children spend with each parent, as well as the parent’s respective incomes.

With respect to meeting this obligation, you or the other parent can obtain an Administrative Assessment from Services Australia (formerly, the Child Support Agency) or alternatively, reach a private agreement amongst yourselves. Should you wish to document this agreement, a Child Support Agreement can be prepared which is registered with Services Australia and sometimes with the Court. Such an Agreement can include not only periodic child support but also outline how you both will meet non-periodic payments (for example, in relation to the children’s extra-curricular activities, private health insurance, school fees and the like).

Do I have a right to see my children?

In Australia, the short answer is that you do not have any right grounded in law to see your children. Family law in Australia, governed largely by the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“the Act”) adopts a child-centric approach, focussing on the rights of your children and your responsibilities to your children as a parent rather than your rights as a parent. Your children have a right to enjoy a meaningful relationship with both of their parents. This will usually involve your children spending time with each parent, however there is no rule, presumption or “starting point” that your children will spend equal or “50:50” time with each of their parents. Furthermore, the paramount consideration of the Court in determining a parenting arrangement that is in the best interests of your children is to protect your children from harm or being subjected to or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence. You have responsibilities for your children however you do not have a right to see or spend time with your children. Your children have a right to have a meaningful relationship with both of their parents if it is safe for them to do so and they will not be at risk of harm.

Find out how our separation lawyers can help you

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