Most people hope that they will never have to visit a family court. Certainly when getting married most people never think that they will going to divorce court or fighting with their spouse over the division of property and the custody of the children. However, it is a fact of life that many people do end up in this position and having the right information during a stressful time like this can be a very big assistance. The two issues that dominate any family law dispute are the division of property and who is to have rights to look after the children.
The division of property has a number of aspects to it, but essentially courts much prefer that the parties settle these types of matters by consent. However, in some cases this is simply impossible and the courts must intervene to arbitrate on complicated matters. In a divorce property settlement, the court employs a four stage process in order to determine how the property of a marriage should be divided. The first step is to ascertain what the assets of the marriage are. This involves looking at the property, bank accounts, superannuation, shares, cars, boats, personal possessions and anything else which is of value and then determining what is to be used as joint property in the marriage. The second step is to identify the contributions of the parties to the marriage. This involves identifying how income was earnt and what non-financial contributions were made such as household work and caring for children. The third step is to look at the future needs of each of the parties. The final step is to adjust the settlement for what the court considers just and equitable in the circumstances. Using this scheme, the court determines how to award property.
In terms of the custody of children, the court is duty bound to look at what is in the best interests of children when awarding a parenting order. These types of matter also render a preference from the courts for consent, however, a court making a parenting order must look to what is in the best interests of children when making an order such as this and it is assumed that equal shared parental responsibility is in the best interests of children unless this assumption can be rebutted using evidence. Obviously, this is an enormous and complicated area, so you need expert advice. We have experts online now available to answer your questions or you may also wish to drop us a line using the contact form to the right.