When you need a family lawyer

Relationship breakdown is by its very nature, a stressful time for all involved. Seeking the expert advice of an experienced family lawyer can assist you to make sense of what can be a difficult and confusing situation. Family lawyers can help you deal with all aspects of relationship breakdown, including arrangements for the care of your children, financial support, division of property and legal dissolution of a relationship, eg. divorce.

When you first separate

Under Victorian Law, partners are considered separated if they are no longer living as a couple. The initial stages of separation may see you feeling shock, denial or grief. Speaking with a family lawyer at this time can help you make good choices so you can, ultimately, move into the next phase of your life. Discussing factors such as living and financial arrangements for your children, your responsibilities, division of assets and how the separation and divorce process (if required) works, can provide clarity around your next steps.

The divorce and separation process in Victoria

Under Victorian law, you can apply for divorce after 12 months of separation with no likelihood of reconciliation. Couples ending a de facto relationship have two years to finalise their division of assets. The advice and support of a family law specialist can be invaluable during this process to ensure your best interests, and those of any children, are considered.

Parenting arrangements

An important aspect of the separation process is to negotiate arrangements for the care of any children from the relationship. This process of determining with whom children will spend their time used to be referred to as child custody or child contact but is more correctly called parenting arrangements.

If your children are aged under 18, both parents are considered to have shared responsibilities regarding decisions made in relation to the care of their children. Under Victorian Law, children have a right to maintain a meaningful relationship with both of their parents.

How children’s care and time is arranged between both parents is something that can be negotiated, depending on each parent’s personal, professional and living circumstances. There is no set or preferred structure defined under the law.

A family lawyer can also support you to renegotiate parenting arrangements or arrangements for children to spend time with other important people in their lives, such as grandparents. We often work with clients who, due a change in personal, professional or living arrangements, wish to revisit prior arrangements made regarding the time they spend with their children.

What is the collaborative family law process?

Collaborative family law practice aims for a holistic, problem solving approach to family law matters with minimal conflict. Under the collaborative approach, the emotional aspects of ending a relationship are acknowledged (in addition to the legal and financial aspects) so as to seek an outcome that supports the needs of all members of the family.

The collaborative law process requires separating parties to agree to follow the collaborative process – ie. committing to reach resolution outside of court.

By entering into a collaborative agreement all parties are committing to seeking an outcome that best meets the needs of the family. In this approach to family law, process the lawyers work together, rather than as adversaries, to support their clients to negotiate a formal end to their relationship.

At Umbrella Family Law, we have supported many clients to seek positive outcomes when ending a relationship. With offices covering all parts of Melbourne and serving clients across Victoria, we can help you, and your children, start your new life.