Married Couples and Divorce
Separation from your spouse can be an emotional and stressful time. Reader Lawyers & Mediators can guide you through all the legal aspects of your separation and provide advice on what to do including mediation, getting a divorce, putting in place arrangements for your children, dividing your property, and any spouse or child maintenance applications. Time frames do apply to some matters so it is a good idea to seek legal advice on these issues either prior to separation or promptly after separation.
In certain circumstances your marriage may not be valid in Australia. We can give you legal advice on this issue based on your particular circumstances.
De facto and same sex relationships
Not all relationships are recognised in family law. If you have separated from your partner we can help by determining whether your relationship is classified as a de facto relationship (including same sex relationships), and provide advice on what to do next including arrangements for any children, and dividing your property.
Time frames do apply to some matters so it is a good idea to seek prompt legal advice on these issues. Reader Lawyers & Mediators can assist you to achieve the best outcome for your own unique circumstances.
If you have children then you may need to deal with some significant issues such as:
- With whom the children will live and spend time with?
- How will big decisions about education, health care, extra-curricular activities and travel be made about the children?
- How will the children be able to enjoy holidays and special occasions with both parents?
It is always best to seek legal advice about what you are planning for your children. We have extensive experience dealing with these arrangements and can provide you with realistic and practical advice about your particular circumstances. If you have already come to an agreement, Reader Lawyers & Mediators can assist you to formalise this agreement.
If you are unable to reach an agreement on any or all issues or are not satisfied with arrangements that may be in place already, Reader Lawyers & Mediators can help. This may include family dispute resolution, mediation, negotiations and if necessary, court representation.
We can also assist you with Adoption of children if this is required.
Relocation and Travel
Parents of children may wish to relocate for a variety of reasons but if that move will impact on the child or the child’s ability to spend time with the other parent or a significant person in their life then it might not be as simple as packing up the house and leaving.
If you want to relocate with children Reader Lawyers & Mediators can help by providing advice on your situation, negotiating with the other parent or guardian and applying to the Family Court should negotiations be unsuccessful. Similarly, if you think that the other parent or guardian is planning to relocate with your child you should contact us immediately to get some urgent legal advice on your situation.
To travel with children internationally they will each need their own passport. If the other parent does not provide their consent to obtain a passport, Reader Lawyers & Mediators can assist with legal advice, negotiation, mediation and court representation if necessary.
If you think another person is planning to travel overseas or domestically with your child without your consent you need to contact us for urgent assistance.
Abduction of children
Child abduction and the risk of child abduction are very serious legal issues that require urgent action in most cases.
If your child has been taken overseas or interstate without your permission and not returned, or you believe that this may occur you need to seek urgent legal advice from an experienced family lawyer.
Similarly, if you have brought your child to Perth from interstate or overseas and the other parent is seeking to have the child returned, you will need legal advice on your rights and obligations and what you are likely to be compelled to do by the Court.
Reader Lawyers & Mediators can assist in providing urgent legal advice and representation to obtain an injunction to stop the travel or removal of a child from their normal residence, in Hague Convention (international child abduction) cases, and where another person is seeking to have a child returned.
In some situations it may be necessary to make an application to the Family Court seeking an order for the return of a child, sometimes called a Recovery Order.
If you think that you might need a recovery order you should contact us for urgent legal advice. We can advise you on whether a recovery order or some other process is the best option for your situation and if court proceedings are necessary. We can also assist you to respond to an application for a recovery order against you.
Child abuse and Family Violence
Where a party or children have experienced or are likely to experience violence, abuse and/or harm (including psychological and emotional), then it is important to have an experienced family lawyer assisting you in court.
Reader Lawyers & Mediators have extensive experience in dealing with these types of matters and we pride ourselves on providing legal advice that also takes into account the unique concerns that these matters raise. We can also assist you to obtain or respond to a Restraining Order or provide legal advice and representation if your matter involves the Department of Child Protection and Family Support.
On our staff we also have nationally accredited Independent Children’s Lawyers who are experienced in representing children and adults in highly complex matters involving violence, abuse and harm.
Breaches of parenting orders
After the court has made orders, there may be circumstances when the other person is not following the orders. In some circumstances you can apply to the court to enforce the orders or ask the court to penalise the other person for breaching (contravening) the orders. It is important to seek legal advice to ensure that you make the appropriate application for your particular circumstances.
If you are considering breaching orders that are in place you should seek legal advice to ensure that you understand the possible consequences that may arise from this course of action.
Reader Lawyers & Mediators are very experienced family lawyers and we can advise you on the appropriate course of action based on the outcome that you wish to achieve and the circumstances of the matter, and if the need arises provide ongoing legal advice and representation to vary the orders.
Grandparents and other interested parties
The law recognises the important role that grandparents and other significant people play in a child’s life. This can include being involved in the upbringing of children or even assuming full responsibility for those children including in circumstances where the Department for Child Protection and Family Support (DCPFS) may be involved.
Reader Lawyers & Mediators can provide legal advice, assistance and court representation on a wide range of family law issues that impact on grandparents or significant others in a child’s life.
Parentage – DNA testing
In some situations there may be a question about the parentage of a child. We can assist you to ascertain the parentage of a child and provide advice and representation on other issues that may arise once parentage has been established.
Care and Protection
If the Department for Child Protection and Family Support (DCPFS) thinks that a child is in need of protection, it may take the child into care.
This is a highly specialised area which has different laws and procedures to most other family law matters and it is important that your lawyer is experienced in these matters and is up-to-date with the current law and the practices of DCPFS. Reader Lawyers & Mediators are highly skilled in this area and have over a decade of experience representing parents, children and other interested parties (like grandparents and other family members) in the Children’s Court.
We can also help you with:
- Challenging DCPFS;
- Negotiations with DCPFS;
- Applying to the Court for contact with children;
- Revocation of protection orders; and
- Preparing for and attending Signs of Safety meetings including pre birth meeting.
If you have a care and protection matter that has been finalised, we can also help you seek review of a Care Plan through the DCPFS Case Review Panel and through the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).
Adopting a child is a happy occasion for families but it is important that the legal formalities are completed.
The Family Court is responsible for the approval of adoption applications in Western Australia and there are strict criteria that must be met before the Family Court will approve an adoption application. The Department of Child Protection and Family Support’s (DCPFS) Fostering and Adoption Services is the only agency in WA which is allowed to arrange an adoption.
Reader Lawyers & Mediators can help you by liaising with DCPFS, ensuring that all legal formalities are complied with and representing you at any court appearances. We can make sure that the formalities are taken care of so that you can enjoy your newest arrival.
The laws surrounding provision of surrogacy services and parenting responsibilities for children born of surrogacy arrangements are very new and not yet settled. If you are considering a surrogacy arrangement, or are intending to become a surrogate, you should seek legal advice as to your rights and responsibilities, whether your arrangement is a valid surrogacy arrangement and how to obtain parentage of the child. Reader Lawyers & Mediators can help by providing advice as to the legality and validity of your proposed arrangement.
Assisted Reproduction including the donation, storage and use of human tissues for reproductive purposes is a contentious and not yet settled area of law. Reader Lawyers & Mediators can provide legal advice and representation on your rights and options at all stages of this process.
After separation one of the biggest questions you will have to consider is how your property should be divided. The Family Court is able to make orders dividing the property of married couples, and de facto couples (including same sex couples) in certain circumstances.
Reader Lawyers & Mediators can help you by providing advice, arranging or facilitating mediation and preparing an Application for Consent Orders if you are able to reach an agreement with the other party. If you have not reached an agreement we can advise you on your rights and obligations and negotiate with the other party to try to reach an agreement. If your matter doesn’t settle we can represent you in court.
There are time limits for applying to the Family Court for division of property following separation and divorce so you should seek legal advice as early as possible to protect your financial position.
If you think that the other person is disposing of property without your consent or you need to urgently preserve your assets you should contact us for urgent legal advice.
In certain situations, following separation one of the parties of a marriage or de facto relationship may be required to provide financial assistance to the other party. Reader Lawyers & Mediators can provide tailored advice and representation about your rights or obligations to receive or pay spousal maintenance based on you specific circumstances.
Legally, parents are responsible for financially supporting their children.
Child Support rights and obligations can be determined according to the Department for Human Service (DHS Child Support – formerly known as the Child Support Agency) formula, or by agreement between parties. If you reach a Child Support Agreement between yourselves you also have the option of registering this agreement with DHS Child Support. You should always get legal advice before entering into a private Child Support Agreement.
Reader Lawyers & Mediators can provide advice and representation in relation to child support issues.
Breaches of financial orders
After the court has made financial orders, there may be circumstances when the other person is not following the orders. As with parenting orders, in some circumstances you can apply to the court to enforce the orders or ask the court to penalise the other person for breaching (contravening) the orders. It is important to seek legal advice to make sure that you make the appropriate application for your particular circumstances.
If you are considering breaching (contravening) orders that are in place you should contact us for legal advice to ensure that you understand the possible consequences that may arise from this course of action.
A Violence Restraining Order (VRO) is an order of the court that restricts a person’s activities in order to protect another person. Although the VRO is not criminal itself, it is a crime to breach a VRO.
Reader Lawyers & Mediators have extensive experience in applying for and responding to Violence Restraining Orders. We can assist you by providing advice, negotiating agreements, and representing you in court. Many people who are applying for or responding to a VRO often have related family law matters that need to be determined. We are able to provide advice and representation on all of these issues and having one lawyer deal with all of your matters can save you time, stress and unnecessary added costs.
We can also assist you to apply and respond to other Restraining Order matters.
Throughout all areas of law there is a push to attempt to resolve matters by negotiation and mediation to avoid the time and cost of court proceedings.
In family law, with some exceptions the Family Court requires that you attempt family dispute resolution (FDR) with a family dispute resolution practitioner before it will allow you to commence proceedings. FDR is a form of mediation, which involves an impartial third party assisting the parties in dispute to reach an agreement on various matters.
Reader Lawyers & Mediators has experience in mediation and FDR and we can advise as to the most appropriate approach depending on your circumstances. Further, our Principal, Ruth Reader, is a nationally accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner and a very experienced mediator. Ruth is very well regarded in this area for her skill at facilitating agreements that achieve mutually beneficial outcomes for all parties.