Whether you are in a marriage, de facto or same-sex relationship, there are laws that regulate what happens upon the breakdown of that relationship. They cover such issues as:
- the division of property;
- financial support for you or your partner;
- determining the living arrangements for children; and
- the payment of child support.
There is not one law that applies to all types of relationships or issues. For most people, the starting point for working out which law applies is complex and confusing. For instance:
- The Family Law Act deals with:
- property and financial issues arising out of all types of relationships;
- disputes about how much time children should spend with their parents;
- maintenance for adult children;
- The Child Support (Assessment) Act deals with the support of children up to the age of 18.
- The Succession Act (NSW) deals with claims upon your partner's estate, following death;
- The Crimes Act (NSW) may need to be relied on, in order to stop domestic violence.
After determining which law applies and how it applies, there are other matters to consider, including:
- What are you entitled to, or what arrangements may be appropriate?
- How should your problem be approached, and what process is best?
- Should you seek to negotiate, and if so, how?
- Is mediation or collaborative law appropriate to your case?
- The need to give full and frank disclosure of your financial position.
- If you negotiate an agreement, how do you make it legally binding and enforceable? What are the alternatives, and which is the best one for you?
- Should you apply to a Court, and if so, which one?
- If you apply to a Court, what should you seek, and why? What Court forms do you use? What process is involved?
- What happens if your matter does not resolve by agreement in Court proceedings? What do you need to prepare, and how is it presented?
There is clearly much more to consider than most people would expect in order to make the right, informed decisions and to navigate through the appropriate processes.