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Family Law

Gold Coast Family Lawyers

Move towards a better future with the Gold Coast’s best family lawyers. 

At Bell Legal, we stand with our clients during life’s most difficult moments.

We’ve been helping people just like you since 1955 – longer than any other family law firm on the Gold Coast.

Using our professionalism, our experience and our exceptional reputation, we’ll make sure you receive the best possible outcome for your family law case.

Separation, asset division, parental custody – we’ll stand with you, through all of it.

Don’t wait.  It’s time to talk to the Gold Coast’s best family lawyers.

 

 

Family Law Services

 

Why do I need a family lawyer?

Hiring a family lawyer can be intimidating.

You’re concerned about the cost of legal fees.

Your partner has told you they “don’t want lawyers involved”, and you’d like to keep things amicable between you.

You’re worried about how going to court could impact your children.

Although each one of these concerns is valid, retaining a lawyer is the best way to help you and your family move forward to a better future.  Here’s why.

  • 97% of separated parents don’t go to court, and instead settle their parenting arrangements through verbal agreements, parenting plans, legally binding agreements, arbitration and mediation. You don’t need to go to court if you don’t want to, and having a lawyer can ensure that any agreements you make are fair, equitable and legally enforceable.
  • Of the 3% of separations that end up in court, 54% involve domestic violence, 85% involve emotional abuse, 59% involve mental health issues, and 42% involve substance misuse. In situations like these, you need a skilled and knowledgeable family lawyer by your side to save your children from an emotionally destructive and possibly dangerous environment.
  • In 73% of separations, mothers are the sole or majority carer for their children, with just 21% of separations resulting in shared care-time, and only 5% of separations ending with the father having sole or majority care for their child. A family lawyer can help you receive parenting arrangements that are fair for both you and your children.
  • Fathers struggling to get access to their children may have a better chance in court than through mutual arrangements. In 19% of family court cases, fathers win majority care of their children, as opposed to just 2% in the normal population.
  • Most divorces don’t end in court-decided property disputes. Many couples settle asset division through mediation, arbitration or solicitor-to-solicitor negotiation.  Having an experienced family lawyer by your side is essential for quickly and affordably navigating a separation, especially if your lawyer can help you avoid complicated court battles.

Ultimately, the most compelling reason for engaging a family lawyer has nothing to do with court outcomes or custody statistics.  It’s the simple fact that, during one of the most stressful, traumatic times in your life, you’ll have a trustworthy, reliable and experienced professional in your corner to defend your rights.

For families big and small, for cases complex and simple, in mediation or in court, Bell Legal will stand beside you.

Together, we’ll find a path to the future you and your family deserve.

 

How does family law work in Australia?

Australia’s family law system is designed to provide resolutions for the legal aspects of family relationship issues.  This includes the resolution of parenting arrangements and financial/property settlements following family relationship breakdowns.

In parenting cases, the family court is required to make orders that are in the best interests of the child.

In property/financial cases, the court considers a number of different factors before dividing the family’s assets in a manner it considers just and equitable.

 

What is the Family Law Act 1975?

The Family Law Act 1975 is the federal Australian law which deals with divorce, property settlement after marriage or de-facto breakdown, spousal or partner maintenance and issues relating to parenting arrangements after separation.

All judges must make their decisions in accordance with the provisions of the Family Law Act.

 

How does family law work in Queensland?

Family law in Queensland is governed by the Family Law Act 1975, which is a federal law – this means all Australian states and territories use the same family laws. The only exception is Western Australia, which has a state family court, although this court also complies with the Family Law Act.

Domestic violence is not covered by the Family Law Act, and is dealt with under state criminal laws.

 

How do I choose a good family lawyer?

The best way to find a good family lawyer is to find a reputable law firm with good online reviews and arrange an initial consultation with them.  Some of the most important skills a family lawyer should have are:

  • Knowledge of the law and how to apply it to your case
  • An understanding of your case and what you want to achieve
  • Being able to listen to and advise you about your concerns
  • Being able to explain matters so you can understand the law
  • A commitment to getting the best result for you
  • Giving good value for the result achieved

 

What is family court?

When you hear people talking about ‘family court’, they’re normally referring to the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, which deal with family law matters.

Both courts have specialised, highly trained judges and staff to assist Australians with complex legal disputes. Normally, the Family Law Court of Australia will deal with the more complicated disputes, while the Federal Circuit Court deals with regular family law cases.

Importantly, both the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court are very different from civil or criminal courts.  You can find out more about the difference between them here.

 

Talk to our Gold Coast family law experts

Explore your options with a free 30-minute consultation, either in person, via phone or through a video call.

 

 

Family Law FAQs

 

Do I have to tell the courts about family violence?

Not necessarily.  The family courts have processes in place to deal with domestic violence and to protect anyone, including children, who may be at risk.

If you’re in a situation where you’re experiencing or are at risk of domestic violence, or you know someone who is, contact us immediately so we can help prevent harm to you and your loved ones.  We’ll only disclose family violence to the courts or the police if you instruct us to. However, if a person’s life is at risk, we have a duty to inform the police.

 

If you believe someone is in imminent danger, contact the Queensland Police immediately by calling Triple Zero (000).

If you have suffered or are suffering domestic violence and want someone to talk to, call a free and confidential domestic violence helpline.

 

Do family lawyers help with divorce too?

Yes, we do. Divorce is the legal ending of a marriage, which many people choose for a range of different reasons. After a year of separation, a Divorce Application can be made by you alone or together with your former partner.

We recommend seeking family law advice no matter how simple or complex your divorce circumstances are, to ensure your rights and interests are protected.

 

How much should a family lawyer cost?

The exact amount you’ll pay for a family lawyer depends on how complex your family law dispute is, and how long it takes.

As a client, you should be provided with a costs agreement before your lawyer starts doing any work.  A costs agreement outlines which family lawyer will be assisting with your matter and specifies their hourly rate.

Depending on their experience and seniority, a family lawyer’s hourly rate can range from $350–$650. All lawyers should seek the approval of the client before doing any work on their behalf.

Normally, law firms will also provide clients with a cost estimate for each stage of the matter. A good lawyer will ensure you understand the cost of the work before they begin, so there are no surprises when the bill arrives.

It is also important to note that, normally, you and the other party bear your own costs for any family law dispute, although the court can make a costs order if the circumstances require it.

 

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process where a neutral third party, known as a mediator, helps you and the other conflicting parties resolve the issue by coming to a mutually acceptable solution.

Unlike family court, which involves a judicial officer (a judge or registrar) eventually making a judgment and imposing a solution, mediation involves both parties meeting somewhere in the middle with the help of an impartial mediator.  Mediation can be significantly less expensive and stressful than going to court, and is often a good approach for emotional situations like divorce or child custody.

 

Does my family law matter have to go to court?

To get a divorce or to formalise a parenting or financial arrangement, you need to apply to the court. If you can’t reach an agreement with your former partner, you’ll have to attend court so a judge can decide the outcome.

In many cases, family law matters are settled without having to go to court. The law encourages people to settle their matters quickly and inexpensively. Mediations and arbitrations are highly effective ways of having your matter settled without the need for court.

 

What happens to my children?

The family court’s first priority is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of your children.  As long as there are no child safety issues, the court encourages children to maintain positive relationships with parents, grandparents and other relatives during and after family law disputes.

Custody agreements and parenting plans depend on your individual circumstances, so, if you’re worried that your partner might be trying to prevent you from caring for or seeing your children, book a free family law consultation with us for legal advice.

 

How do we formalise an agreement?

To formalise an agreement, you need a legally binding agreement.  This is a document that makes verbal or written agreements between you and your partner legally enforceable, which means there may be consequences if either of you breaks the agreement.  If your agreements aren’t legally enforceable, either party can apply to the courts for a completely new arrangement.

The parties in a family law dispute have two options when obtaining a legally binding agreement for each party.

 

Binding Financial Agreements

A binding financial agreement (BFA), also known as a prenuptial agreement or ‘prenup’, is a contract between you and your partner that details how your assets will divided if you ever separate.  Both de facto and married couples can enter into BFAs.

To ensure your BFA is legally binding and free from loopholes, it’s important that it is drafted by a qualified lawyer who has reviewed both your and your partner’s assets, which may include companies, trusts and self-managed super funds.

 

Consent Orders

If both parties agree on an arrangement, they can make an Application for Consent Orders. A judge can only make the proposed order if he or she believes they are just and equitable (for financial matters) or in the best interests of the child or children (for parenting matters).

 

Family Law Resources

 

Marriage, Families & Separation

 

Learn about family law with this information brochure from the Family Courts.

Family Court Fees

 

Review the different costs you might have to pay the court as part of your family law proceedings.

Family Relationships Online

 

Learn about your options for counselling, dispute resolution and family finance.

Relationships Australia

 

Many family problems can be prevented with early intervention.  Find out how to strengthen and grow your relationship with your partner.

Child Support Estimator

 

Use the Child Support Estimator to calculate what your child support payments might look like.

Family Law Dictionary

 

Confused about family law jargon?  Find out what each term means with this free online dictionary.

 

 

Relationships and the law

No two relationships are ever the same, meaning that the legal issues for every relationship may vary enormously. Don't take a chance. Get professional legal advice to find out where you stand.

Separation

When separating there are many things to consider. Property, children, money, new relationships. We can help guide you through the legal maze.

Pre-separation advice

If you're thinking about separating contact us for a consultation to find out where you stand and for advice to save you pain later on.

Divorce

If the time comes we can handle your divorce application from start to finish, with professionalism and discretion assured.

De facto

Family Law applies to unmarried couples too. Contact us to get advice for your situation.

Same sex relationships

Unmarried same sex couples receive similar treatment to heterosexual de facto couples. Find out about your rights.

Property Settlement in Family Law

Dividing property including superannuation can be a real headache following separation. Get advice from our expert team to make sure you know where you stand.

Binding Financial Agreements

Whether you want a pre-nup or to avoid the courts, binding financial agreements are a way you and your partner can work out property division between you. We can prepare and advise about all types of Family Law Act financial agreements.

Spousal Maintenance

If you need advice about claiming spousal maintenance, or if you are worried that your ex may claim against you, get advice from our team to find out more.

Parenting

Children and arrangements for their care must be dealt with sensitively and with their best interests at heart. We are experts in finding the right outcome for your family. Click here to find out more about post separation parenting.

Child Support

We offer advice about child support, including drawing up private agreements.

Family Violence

Contact us if you need expert and compassionate legal advice about any domestic or family violence issue affecting you.

Consent Orders

Where you agree about property, parenting or both you can apply to the courts for consent orders without ever having to go near a court room. We can take care of everything for you.

Mediation

If you can't agree sometimes mediation can help. We are very experienced in organising and guiding our clients through the mediation process.

The Family Courts system

Our team have vast experience in courts around Australia and overseas. Contact us to make sure you are receiving the best representation.

Margaret Miller

Partner

Dispute Resolution / Litigation / Estate Disputes / Employment Law / Business & Compliance / Family Law

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