Family Issues 

Family issues are among the toughest life experiences as it results in a challenging and frustrating home environment. If you are experiencing family issues such as divorce and parenting disputes, it is better to have a grasp and get a clear picture of what you might be dealing at the moment, and what options you could do when seeking legal advice from a family lawyer.

Divorce and Separation

Revoking the marriage agreed upon by two legally married people is called divorce. In simpler terms it the process of legally ending a marriage. It is worthy to note that property divisions, financial agreement, and parenting arrangements do not automatically come after the divorce and the process must done separately. Legal Services Commission of SA recommends applying for such issues before applying for divorce. The parties have 12 months after the grant to resolve any issues that need to be resolved upon divorce.

 What grounds should divorce be an option for in the family?

Opting for a divorce is grounded by irretrievable marriage breakdown. This is characterised by not living as a married couple for at least 12 months and that the relationship cannot longer be mended.

 Couples who do not have children and/or are only married less than two years cannot apply for divorce. They would have to present a certificate from a counsellor stating that the two parties have considered getting back together through marriage counselling; or ask permission from the court to go ahead even without seeking marriage counselling. In such event, the court will have you provide evidence in an affidavit what were your reasonable explanations of not opting marriage counselling or not trying to get back together.

Couples who separated but live under one roof during part or all of the required 12 months separation period needs to provide extra information such as an affidavit to state that they have separated but live in same house.One vital factor for a divorce application to be approved is the arrangements for the children under the age of 18 who were living with the couple at the time of separation.

Opposing divorce

Both of the parties must demonstrate that there is a chance for them to get back together. Agreeing to attend a counseling session will give the other party a chance of reconsideration. To be able to oppose a divorce a Response to Divorce must be completed within 28 days upon being served with the Application for Divorce.

Property Settlement

The importance of dividing the properties is to end the financial relationship between two parties. It is noteworthy however that property settlements do not only apply to divorced individuals. It could also apply to those married and in de facto relationship.While the length of a marriage is an important factor, a property settlement pertains to all assets and liabilities between the two. This means the Court has the power to alter the interests of each party after thorough assessment of the property’s value, individual contributions, future needs of the party, and consideration whether the settlement being proposed is just, reasonable, and equitable.

Parenting Order

All biological parents have a legal responsibility to their children under 18 regardless of their relationship. The court may say otherwise, which is known as a Parenting Order, where all concerns on children’s welfare and other arrangements for care are established. The court always considers the best interest of the child when making an order, and they presume that an equal parental responsibility is necessary. There are some cases however where equal shared responsibility is not the best for the children.

 The context of an equal time shared as a parental responsibility does not equate to having exact same time to be spent with each parent. In the events when an equal time is not suitable the court seeks to order a substantial and significant time, whereby children spend their time with the parents during weekends, weekdays, or holidays. The court always protects the best interest of the child, and therefore considers the following factors to decide between an equal time or a substantial and significant time:

  • Proximity of parents’ residence from one another
  • Other factors which the court thinks are vital
  • Current and future ability of parents to resolve any difficulties that may arise
  • Parents’ ability to talk to each other
  • Current and future ability of parents to care for the child
  • Family Violence

Violence between family members can occur by means of physical injury, psychological harm, social isolation, financial control, and emotional damages. An intervention order may be issued once it has reached the attention of the police. Criminal sanction and penalty does not apply to all forms of family violence in general.

In the events where the victim has to seek help from other services, Legal Services Commission advised for the abused individuals to make an arrangement and seek help on the following:

  • Financial Assistance –Centrelink income support payments
  • Housing Assistance – Assistance programs on private rentals such as Housing SA
  • Counselling or family therapy – Such as women or community health centres

Immigration Advice – For abused people on a spouse visa, or on-going partner’s visa at the time of abuse, they must immediately seek help and legal advice from their migration lawyer. They will make sure that your visa status will not be threatened due to unfortunate family violence and that you do not need to stay in the relationship for the application to commence.

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