Family Law Hub WA

This hub is designed to act as a resource for those facing challenging family situations. Family law matters within Australia are handled by the Family Court of Western Australia, however in the majority of cases an agreement can be reached between both parties prior to going to court.


About the Family Court

Authority

The Family Court of Western Australia was established in 1976 as a State court under the Family Court Act 1975.

Jurisdiction

The court is presided over by judges, magistrates and registrars. It is vested with State and Federal jurisdiction in matters of family law and deals with divorce, property of a marriage or defacto relationship, matters relating to children, maintenance and adoptions. The Department of the Attorney General (WA) provides administrative and logistical support for the operation of this court, which is federally funded.

Structure

Judicial officers

  • Five judges
  • One principal registrar/magistrate
  • Seven family law magistrates
  • Two registrars
  • Non-judicial officers
  • One executive manager
  • Forty six registry staff
  • Twenty six judicial support officers
  • Counsellors
  • One director, counselling and consultancy service
  • One manager, counselling and consultancy service
  • Sixteen family consultants

Location

The principal registry is located at 150 Terrace Road, Perth, Western Australia. The court sits in Perth, but country circuits are conducted at specified regional centres at Albany, Broome, Bunbury, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Karratha and South Hedland. Local magistrates have limited jurisdiction in country locations, dealing mainly with enforcement matters and interim applications.

What Should I do if I have a family law issue

It's always best to handle family issues outside of court, as this provides the best chance for an ammicable agreement between all parties and gives everyone the opportunity to rebuild their lives and relationships in the future. Regardless of whether your matter is going to court or not, you should seek out the advice of an expert in family law. A proven family lawyer will be able to guide you through this difficult time, ensure you are aware of your rights and protected, and will look after your best-interest during settlement negotiations. If you are currently in a difficult family situation at home, we suggest looking at the articles below, as they hold useful advice and may help you better navigate your situation.


Useful Articles

What Does A Family Lawyer Do

Family law is a vast and complex legal practice. A family attorney takes care of all the legitimate issues that have to do with any individual from a family unit. This may include adoption, child custody, financial settlements, distribution of assets, visitation rights, guardianship, child abuse, neglect, domestic violence, visitation rights, separation, and divorce. Most of the time these lawyers focus on;

  • Representing clients in divorce and issues related to divorces like custody, marital property, alimony and support. Family lawyers can also represent the victims or perpetrators of domestic violence in civil protection order proceedings. They defend clients accused of domestic violence in criminal proceedings. Juvenile delinquency, adoption, guardianship, neglect and child abuse are also areas of family law.
  • Drafting important legal documents like court petitions, property agreements, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and litigate related matters.
  • Other matters that can be handled by a family lawyer include; wills, and inheritance, deaths, pension retirement, the validity of trust among other benefits. They also handle coverage and efficacy of insurance claims.

Here is what to expect from a lawyer when you visit them:

Review the potential issue

A family law attorney starts by reviewing the issues relevant to your case and makes an assessment based on the information you have provided. So make sure you give the lawyer all the relevant details about your situation. All info you provide is handled in a confidential manner.Client/solicitor confidentiality is a protection that should be accorded to clients. All the details of your case should be handled with the utmost privacy and respect for your privacy. They should act ethically at all times. They are subject to the principles and values that guide them in their practice.

Provide An overview of your right and responsibilities

Based on the assessment above, the lawyer will advise you on whether to pursue a cooperative process or if litigation is necessary.

Cooperative Process

A cooperative approach allows the lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. You may benefit from the mediation of your issues to arrive at a settlement that is right for both parties.

Litigation

If there is no amicable settlement, the lawyer should proceed to pursue litigation, with your approval. The family lawyer should, file pleading and motions as required and argues the case before the court. Most cases require input from a variety of people associated with the situation in different capacities. The lawyer may need to liaise and coordinate with professionals like doctors, psychologists, law enforcement officers, welfare authorities and social workers. This will help them deliver a seamless and unanimous argument before the court.

Litigation can be a long, stressful, time-consuming and expensive process. A good family lawyer should be aware of this and strive to progress your matter promptly. They should use their best abilities to help you achieve desired results as soon as practicable.

Expertise

We highly recommend that you schedule a consultation appointment to gauge their level of competency. This way, you can rest assured that they will bring their knowledge and expertise of the family law and legislation to the fore in your case. They should also provide you with clear and concise advice on the best way to resolve a family conflict or divorce.

Professionalism

A good family lawyer needs to be an effective communicator. They should keep you informed at all times of the proceedings and respective court-imposed deadlines, any foreseeable setbacks, delays and difficulties with your case. The lawyer should also provide you with sound advice on legal prospects and keep you informed of your legal fees. They should provide you with a detailed explanation and disclosure of your lawyer’s fees and accounts. The lawyer should also be easily accessible and answer your calls or emails promptly in case you need to need to make an appointment when the need arises.

Family lawyers hold a range of skills like drafting and negotiating contracts, pleadings and other legal documents; litigating contested matters, counselling clients on their constitutional rights, and attempting to resolve disputes. Hence, their role differs with the type of case they are handling. For instance, if you are filing for an open divorce, then the service of the attorney will be limited to filing your divorce papers and representing you during a court hearing.



When Should I Hire a Family Lawyer?

While representing yourself is acceptable, some situations require the expertise of a family lawyer to represent your interests adequately. When you are met with a legal issue that affects your family, getting professional and expert advice from a reputable family lawyer can make a big difference. When should I hire a family lawyer?

Divorce

This is one of the most complex and emotional legal processes in family law. However, you may not need a lawyer if you and your spouse are on the same page about what you want for your family. In such a case, you can negotiate a divorce settlement on your own. However, if both parties do not seem to agree on ideal outcomes with regards to child support, visitation, child custody, alimony, and property division, we highly recommend that you hire a family attorney. A lawyer will prevent you from getting into a bad deal or agreeing to something you do not understand.

Adoption

Adopting a child is a beautiful moment in life that is also accompanied by legal matters that require professional advice to navigate successfully. Adoption is a complex process that differs depending on the type of adoption, the child’s country of origin, among other factors. A family attorney will help you negotiate fair terms either with the adoption agency or birth parents. They will also represent you in court hearings and communication with adoption agencies on your behalf. The attorney will also make sure all your documents are in order and that the law protects the child.

Paternity

In most cases, paternity cases are usually filed by mothers looking to receive child support from an absentee father. However, there are cases when biological fathers can file for paternity to be included in a child’s upbringing. If you are looking to challenge, paternity, adjust visitation orders or even terminate your parental rights, a family lawyer will help you with the legal process. Since the procedures in terminating or exercising parental rights can be complicated and involve confusing paperwork, it might be in your best interest to hire a reputable and experienced family lawyer.

Guardianship

A family lawyer will come in handy when seeking guardianship. This applies when you are taking care of a child or children whose parents are deceased, unwilling or unable to take care of the child. Taking on legal guardianship will give you the right to make decisions regarding the child if the parent is not able to or is not allowed by law.

Document drafting

Document drafting such as a will is essential, especially if you own estates and properties. A will is an important family document as it gives instructions on how the estate and properties should be administered in the event of your death. A will that is drafted by a family lawyer is legally binding and should be administered.

Child custody

Child custody is one of the most common disputes in a family court. As expected, parents are usually concerned with the safety, education and overall well-being of their children. Custody issues tend to become harder following a breakup or divorce. To safeguard the best interest of the child, courts assign legal and physical custody to one parent or share them between both parents. If you realize that your ex is trying to limit your contact with your child, making last minute cancellation, or denying visits, you need to hire a family lawyer to represent you. The lawyer will help to define your roles as a parent to your children or bring both parents to an understanding. A family lawyer will also come in handy when trying to make modifications of custody orders, for instance. If you want to alter visitation schedule or revise the amount off of child support, your lawyer works hard to show how circumstances have changed since the order was entered.

Spousal abuse

A violent relationship can be shattering. Unfortunately, it is a common occurrence in most relationships, whether married or unmarried. While most people only feel that this law only caters to legally married women, the scope of this law is far-reaching. If you are in a violent relationship, including homosexual and heterosexual, consider seeking the services of a family lawyer. Other instances where you need to hire a family lawyer include substance abuse, alimony, property settlement, child abuse, child kidnapping, separation, domestic partnerships and civil unions, marriage, and court representation. Whatever issue your family may be going through, a family lawyer can be of immense help.

What Questions Should I ask my Family Lawyer?

Disagreements and conflicts happen in families. In all of them, women are the most affected right from simple domestic quarrels, physical assaults to worst scenarios of divorce and separation. Although some issues can be resolved quickly by close relatives and elders, certain situations require the help of a family lawyer especially matters related to child support, divorce, the division of property, child custody and legal separation and many more. These situations can be very stressful to handle and require a competent and professional lawyer with deep understanding and experience in family law. But how do you know that a particular lawyer is ideal for the job? Most likely you’ll need to ask them questions.

What questions should I ask my family lawyer?

Every case related to family law must begin with an initial consultation. As part of the research process, women struggling with family disputes can consider asking their potential lawyers the following questions.

How often do you handle family law matters?

Just like any other branch of law, no two cases are the same in family law. An experienced family lawyer understands how to handle a variety of cases right from the sporadic ones to the most popular situations. They also know how to apply different aspects of the law to find appropriate solutions. Although most family lawyers will reply that they’ve handled several cases, it is great to ask them the number of cases like yours they have successfully resolved. Complex spousal matters require skilled lawyers.

What are my available options?

While most family attorneys may prove to have handled many cases, it is excellent for them to give you a whole picture and overview of your case. He should lay down the available solutions that apply to your specific situation. If it means getting out of a courtroom, your lawyer should be capable of providing viable options. Such a move is vital in helping you understand an attorney who is overly enthusiastic to help you resolve your case. The last option in any family dispute is divorce, but before filing for it, you should have exhausted all the possible solutions. Dealing with a family breakup can be overpowering because the decisions you make can affect you for a lifetime. This is why you need a reliable resource and credible answers to all your queries.

Will you work solely on my case or someone else is involved?

Majority of family lawyers have teams like paralegals and support associates that help them work on complicated cases. Such an approach not only aids you to save money but is also responsive and flexible to the demands of your case. A lawyer can also opt to work with external consultants like a personal investigator, accountant or financial advisor to assess your assets in situations where property needs to be shared and many more. If such external experts are involved, it may work in favour of your case. It is also paramount to ensure that the involved parties are experienced with the services they’ll provide. Know in advance how much they’ll charge and how familiar they are with your lawyer.

Can you provide me with an estimate, and how do you charge?

Ask your attorney how they charge clients. Whether it is per hour basis or flat or retainer fee, the charges should fall within your budget. Also consider asking about other costs related to your case like outside consultants, court fees and travel expenses and many more. A reliable family lawyer will be transparent to provide you with upfront costs and how the entire billing process will work. If he charges a flat fee, then consider evaluating the scope of the services they provide. For hourly basis, consider asking them the factors that can affect the cost of your case like the behaviour of your opposing party, case facts, how long your case may take, and any other issue that may accrue.

What are the possible outcomes of my case?

Specific cases can be reasonably forthright like child support and custody. However, in certain situations, local rules and the amount of property can dictate possible solutions when determining child custody and support. Solutions vary, and judges can provide different solutions based on prevailing conditions. Cases of shared care are prevalent. Sole custody is not always the obvious solution. Ask your lawyer the possible outcomes of your case to know the approach to use.

What are the potential drawbacks in my case?

There’s no smooth case in family law. Remember that your spouse too will be fighting back. An attorney who doesn’t share potential problems can signal a lack of concern. Certain disputes are easy to overcome than others like the case of uncontested divorce. No court will warrant a separation when the other couple is not willing. Consider asking your attorney about this.

Conclusion

Family law is quite comprehensive and can be easy to get lost. Women are the most hit when families get into disputes or breaks. The above are practical questions every woman can consider asking their potential family lawyer. It pays to consult an expert. For more information on family law, domestic violence or how to deal with trouble at home please visit our HelpHub