Some common questions and answers to consider


What is separation?

Separation occurs when you or your partner decide to end your relations and this decision is communicated between you.  You and your partner do not have to agree to separate, only one party to the relationship can make that decision and once it is communicated to the other party, separation will be effected. You and your partner may remain under one roof after deciding to separate. Date of final separation is important as for a divorce to be granted, the parties must have been separated for at least 12 months immediately prior to the Divorce Application being filed with the Family Court.

Can we continue to live together once separated?

You and your partner may remain residing under one roof after separation, so long as it is safe and appropriate to do so.  We recommend that you seek legal advice from Perth Family Lawyers before vacating the family home, as this decision could have a significant impact in your property settlement proceedings.  Also, you should ensure your personal safety.

Why is the date of final separation important in Divorce proceedings?

To be able to apply for a divorce, you must have been separated for at least 12 months. If there is any disagreement as to the date of separation you may be required to file an Affidavit which supports the date that you say you separated. If you file your Divorce Application before you have been separated 12 months, your Application will not be accepted by the Family Court.  If you have lived under one roof for a period of your separation, additional evidence may be required by the Court.  See one of our lawyers at Perth Family Lawyers to assist you to get your Divorce done.

What is a de facto relationship?

A de facto relationship exists when two people live together on a genuine domestic basis.  Generally, you need to live together for at least two years for the relationship to be considered as being in a de facto relationship by the Family Court however there can be exceptions to this rule. A de facto relationship can even exist if one of the persons is legally married to someone else or is in another de facto relationship.  If you are unsure as to whether you are in, or have been in, a de facto relationship, you should immediately seek legal advice from Perth Family Lawyers.

Can I resolve my property and children’s matters by filing a Divorce Application?

Divorce does not deal with property settlement matters. In the event that you wish to or need to complete a property settlement, an application for property settlement must be filed within 12 months of the date of your divorce or within 2 years of the dated of separation of your de facto relationship.  These timelines are critical, and you may prejudice your position by not meeting them.  Understand your obligations to preserve your best position.

Can I commence property proceedings prior to my Divorce Application being granted?

You are not required to have commenced divorce proceedings or obtained a Divorce Order in order to commence property proceedings. You can commence property proceedings, on the basis you have complied with the relevant pre-action procedures, at any time following separation.  There are time limits that apply however, after your Divorce has been granted, or if 2 years has lapsed since the separation of your de facto relationship.  We recommend you get advice immediately, to ensure your rights are protected.

How do I make an appointment?

Call us on 08 9325 8675 or send an online enquiry here.

I need to reschedule my appointment?

That’s not a problem, just give us a call and we will reschedule your appointment to a time suitable to you.

How do I pick the lawyer that's right for me?

If you wish to see a particular lawyer at Perth Family Lawyers, you can request an appointment with them specifically.  Many of our clients are referred to us on the recommendation of a previous client we have acted for.  There is no greater compliment than a word of mouth referral.  At your initial consultation you will get the opportunity to meet with your lawyer and see if it’s a good fit.  The solicitor-client relationship is one built on mutual trust and confidence, so it is important you feel comfortable and at ease with your lawyer.

I am not happy with my current lawyer, what should I do?

If you have already engaged a lawyer and are not satisfied with the service you are receiving, or if you just want a second opinion, you should make an appointment to speak with one of our solicitors.  At an appointment with us you can get a feel for how Perth Family Lawyers operate.  We are known for being genuine and providing honest advice, and for delivering outcomes for our clients.

I want to change lawyers. What is the process?

The transfer of your file from one family law firm to Perth Family Lawyers is simple.  You can request your file directly from your former solicitor, or we can prepare an Authority for your signature and request your file on your behalf.  Generally, you will not be able to obtain your file from your previous solicitors unless your account is up to date.  We may be able to assist you even if you cannot collect your file, particularly in the event you are in dispute with your former lawyers regarding your account.

What is a trust account?

A trust account is a highly regulated account operated by lawyers (and other professions) which is audited and overseen by the Legal Practice Board.  Funds that you deposit into the trust account remain yours.  Solicitors cannot transfer funds from the trust account unless authorised to do so by you.  At Perth Family Lawyers we require a deposit of funds into the trust account to undertake your legal work.  Subsequently, you will receive an invoice and, in accordance with our Retainer Agreement, your invoice will be paid by transferring your trust funds in payment.

What is a Retainer agreement?

At or following your initial consultation, you will receive information about how to formally engage Perth Family Lawyers to act on your behalf.  This information will include our Retainer Agreement (also known as a “Costs Agreement”).  This Agreement is between you and Perth Family Lawyers, and sets out the services that will be performed, as well as the estimated costs involved. We require the Retainer Agreement to be signed and returned to us before we can open your file and commence working for you.

Do I really need a lawyer?

Absolutely. You need to ensure you have accurate legal advice and information in order to protect yourself moving forward.  It is not uncommon for people be completely confused and misinformed when it comes to separation and divorce and advice from a lawyer is vital, so you are not doing yourself a disservice

Do I have to get a Divorce?

No, you don’t, unless you want to get remarried.  Of course, some people want to be divorced as it provides them with a form of closure and a fresh start in the new chapter of their lives.  We can help guide you through the process.

What does it cost to get Divorced?

You have to pay a filing fee to the Family Court of Western Australia to apply for your Divorce.  This changes regularly so you should check the current fee required to be paid on the website of the Family Court of Western Australia.  We can assist you with completing your Divorce Application, or guide you through the process.

Do I have to register my separation?

No.  This is a fallacy.  There is nowhere to ‘register your separation’.  Your date of separation is the date you, or your partner, say it is.  The separation date can be different for either party too, which can cause some difficulties with your divorce.  It is important to remember that important time limits apply to your separation date if you were in a de facto relationship and you should see one of our lawyers at Perth Family Lawyers to get advice specific to your separation.

Can I change my name back to my maiden name?

Yes, at any time.  It won’t have any impact on your legal matter.

Do I have to change my name after I separate or divorce?

No. That is entirely up to you.

Can I change my children's names?

If both parents are named on the birth certificate, you will need consent from the other parent to change the children’s names, or an Order of the Court.  We can assist you with the process and have significant experience with these types of matters

Can I obtain a Passport for my child if the other parent won’t sign the Application?

If both parents are named on the birth certificate, you will need the other parent to sign the child’s Passport Application.  If the other parent will not sign the Passport Application, you will need to apply to the Family Court for an Order for the child to be granted a Passport.  We regularly undertake these types of matters and have considerable experience.

I want to go on a holiday with my kids and I have their Passports, can I go?

Legally you can, unless there are current parenting proceedings before the Family Court of Western Australia.  However, going on a holiday without informing the other parent is likely to lead to considerable conflict.  Imagine if the other parent did that to you, and you didn’t know where your kids were.  There is a right way and wrong way to go about things.  We recommend you get advice from Perth Family Lawyers as this type of behaviour can put considerable strain on your post-separation parenting relationship with the other parent.

I have a matter in the Family Court of Western Australia, what should I do?

Call us immediately on 08 9325 8675 and schedule an appointment to see a lawyer to obtain advice.  If you have a matter in Court, you should attend at Court personally.  Be on time, and dress relatively formally.  We recommend against wearing jeans and t-shirts.

I have just been served with Court documents, what should I do?

Call us immediately on 08 9325 8675 to schedule an appointment so we can review the documents you have received and give you advice about your options and the best way forward for you. You should not ignore any Court dates referred to in those documents as important decisions could be made in your absence.

I have just been served with a Violence Restraining Order, what do I do?

You must comply with the terms of the Order; we cannot stress this enough.  Do not do anything prohibited by the Order, as this is a criminal offence, and you can be arrested and charged.  Get urgent legal advice from Perth Family Lawyers, so we can give you the right advice and outline your options to challenge the Order or negotiate a resolution.

I can’t see my kids, what should I do?

Remain calm and child focused.  Your conduct at this stage may become the subject of attention by a Court later.  Do not send abusive messages to the other parent, or verbally berate them.  If they are refusing you time with the children, come and see us, so we can guide you through the process and your options to secure the best parenting arrangements for you long term.  Remember, how you behave now and treat the other parent, (even if they are not treating you well) can have a lasting impact on the time you get to spend with your children.

The Police are trying to get in contact with me – what should I do?

The Police may be contacting you for a variety of reasons.  They may be trying to serve you with a Violence Restraining Order or wishing to interview you regarding an allegation that has been made.  Call Perth Family Lawyers and schedule an appointment on 08 9325 8675 so we can assist you by providing advice, or by liaising with the Police on your behalf.

I've heard that the woman always wins in the Family Court, is that true?

Absolutely not.  This is exactly why you should seek independent legal advice from an experienced lawyer at Perth Family Lawyers rather than listening to mates.

Do you act for men and women?

Yes, equally.  We fight for our clients irrespective of gender to secure them the best outcome in the most cost effective and expeditious manner possible.

Do women always get primary care in the Family Court?

Not at all.  It is becoming more and more common that parenting arrangements are individually tailored to each different family’s situation.  Equal shared care, or a varied form of shared care (such as 8 or 9 nights per fortnight with one parent, and 5 or 6 nights with the other parent) are commonplace.  Don’t believe what you hear.  There is a lot of misinformation out there.  Get the right advice so you can get the best outcome for your kids.

I need to see a lawyer straight away. Is that possible?

Absolutely.  If you explain the urgency of your situation to our friendly team, we will do our utmost to reschedule our day to ensure you can see someone at Perth Family Lawyers straight away

Where's your office?

Our office is situated at Level 9, 256 Adelaide Terrace in Perth.  Conveniently, we are located just steps away from the Family Court of Western Australia, and the Perth Magistrates’ Court.  This means we are close by and you don’t have to pay for your lawyer’s travel time to get to Court, as is the case with other law firms.

How much will my legal fees be?

This is impossible to estimate without you meeting with one of our Perth Family Lawyers.  At your initial consultation, once we understand the circumstances of your matter, we will be able to give you an estimate of the range of costs you may incur.  Critically, Perth Family Lawyers are well known for delivering cost effective legal services at a high level.

What should I bring to my appointment?

When you schedule an appointment with Perth Family Lawyers, you will receive a list of documents that you should bring to your appointment.  Importantly though as a starting point we suggest you bring:

  • Communication you have received from the other party, or a solicitor acting on their behalf;
  • Details of any agreements you have with the other party, whether it be a parenting plan, draft consent orders or a verbal agreement;
  • Any Court Orders or court documents;
  • Violence Restraining Orders;
  • Any Police documentation (if applicable).

These (and other) documents may assist your solicitor with providing you with legal advice. If your matter relates to property settlement, it will also be of some assistance if you have a general knowledge of the current assets and liabilities of the relationship

Is there car parking nearby?

Yes, there is parking available at the City of Perth Parking located at 262 Hay Street, Perth (directly to the back of our building).  Otherwise, there is parking available at the Perth Concert Hall public car park, accessible from Terrace Road.  Alternate parking can be found at  Parking in the City of Perth requires payment of the associated fee and there are time limitations that apply when parking that you should take note of to avoid any fines or your vehicle being towed

How do I get Child Support?

Sometimes, parents can work out their own arrangements for his much child support should be paid. If you cannot reach an agreement about this, or are unsure how much should be paid, you should contact the Department of Human Services, specifically the Child Support Agency. If you want to make an application for child support, you can contact the Child Support Agency on 13 12 72.

I am unable to support myself, what do I need to show in order to obtain an order for spousal maintenance?

In order for a party to seek spousal maintenance they must show they are unable to support themselves due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • They have the care and responsibility of children under the age of 18; or
  • Due to their age, physical or mental incapacity which prevents them from gaining appropriate employment; or
  • For any other adequate reason.

Who is entitled to spousal maintenance?

An Order for maintenance can be ordered in circumstances where a party to a marriage (or a de facto relationship) has a reasonable need for financial support and the other party has the capacity to pay an amount by way of financial support.

Under the legislation, a person has a responsibility to financially assist their spouse or former de facto partner, if that person cannot meet their own reasonable expenses from their personal income or assets.

What is spousal maintenance?

Spousal or de facto maintenance refers to financial support paid by a party to a marriage or de facto relationship to their former spouse or former de facto partner in circumstances where they are unable to adequately support themselves. This can be done in a lump sum payment or on a periodical basis.

What are Child Support Agreements?

You are able to reach Agreement with the other parent as to child support to be paid.  This can be documented in either a Limited Agreement or a Binding Child Support Agreement and registered with the Child Support Agency.  It is crucial that you obtain advice as to child support matters and at Perth Family Lawyers we have considerable experience in dealing with this area of family law.

How much spousal maintenance am I entitled to?

The Court will assess the parties’ respective financial circumstances such as their income, property, and financial resources.  The Court will then consider each parties’ necessary financial commitments. In the event the Court determine that the party making the application has a need for financial support, and the other party has the capacity to pay, an order for maintenance can be made.

Are there any time limits when applying for spousal maintenance?

Yes. If you were married, generally applications for financial settlement including spousal maintenance must be made within twelve (12) months of your divorce becoming final. If you were in a de facto relationship, applications for maintenance generally must be made within two (2) years of your separation. There are, however, exceptions to this limitation period, so seeking advice from Perth Family Lawyers is imperative.