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Trusted Divorce & Family Lawyers in Sydney, NSW
CLW Family Lawyers are a dedicated team of highly experienced Family Lawyers based in Sydney helping people navigate relationship breakdown and divorce. We are sensitive to your needs and do all we can to expedite a practical solution that takes good care of you and your children.
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1300 997 269
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*Sorry, we do not accept requests for legal aid at this time.
Sydney’s Experts in Family Law
We are a friendly, understanding team of expert family lawyers that focuses on you, and the best possible outcome for your situation. We’ve been practicing in Sydney for over 25 years, and have experts in a broad range of family law matters including:
- divorce and separation
- child support and parenting agreements
- property settlement
- apprehended domestic violence orders
- wills and estate planning
We understand that every person’s needs and circumstances are unique – some people will contact us in one of the hardest times of their lives, such as during separation or divorce, for others we might be a small administrative step, like a pre-nup (Binding Financial Agreement), on the way to their wedding and one of the happiest days of their lives.
Unlike many law firms in Sydney that offer initial consultations with junior lawyers, we offer initial consultations with senior lawyers who can give immediate and accurate advice straight away, helping to give you a realistic understanding of the process for your particular circumstances.
We always work towards the best outcome for our clients, not just financially but also mentally and emotionally. For 97% of our clients we find a solution which is finalised outside of a court room, avoiding a long process that can be both stressful and costly.
The CLW Family Law team
We are a personable, approachable team of dedicated experts who work hard to find fair outcomes for all our clients in Sydney and across Australia. We act for many overseas Australians as well.
Our team is filled with a diverse range of experience in different areas of family law, so we are able to match the best fit for your particular circumstances. As well as experience in the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court, we have team members with expertise in property, business, commerce, accounting and child-related matters.
The Family Law Team has resolved thousands of diverse cases, from relatively straightforward separations to splitting businesses, trusts and property portfolios spanning multiple jurisdictions. While every family’s situation is unique our team has proven experience that will help guide your decision-making process.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the process of divorce or separation? Is it the same for married and de facto couples?
While de facto couples have the same rights as married couples, the processes for ending a marriage and a de facto relationship are a little different. The rules are the same for same-sex and heterosexual relationships – whether they are marriages or de-facto.
To apply for a divorce you have to have been separated from your partner for at least 12 months. However, it is generally a good idea to seek legal advice – or to take legal action – prior to this period. It’s often a good idea to speak to someone who knows how the process works, what you or your spouse need to do, and what the likely outcome will be.
There are several legal processes that can occur separately to the divorce, and we can help you figure out what services you will need depending on your circumstances. Some of the processes that you might need to consider are:
- the division of property
- spousal maintenance – where one (former) partner provides ongoing financial support for the other
- parenting and child support arrangements if children are involved
While de facto couples don’t necessarily need to make any formal legal applications to declare their relationship finished, they are still entitled to the same rights as married couples as far as property, spousal maintenance, parenting arrangements and child support are concerned.
How do we go about splitting our assets?
Assets considered in a property settlement include property (your home and any investment properties), businesses or business interests, superannuation, investments, shares, motor vehicles, jewellery and artworks. Financial resources (things that have a future financial benefit or the ability to generate income in the future) such as long service leave, a future pension entitlement, or an anticipated inheritance can also be included.
Obviously finding a fair way to allocate all these different things can be a complex process, and in some cases your spouse may even be trying to hide knowledge of assets from you. We have forensic accountants and valuers with experience calculating the total worth of assets and determining fair ways to divide them.
The legal process for determining the splitting of assets considers many factors, including:
- the financial contributions of both parties before, during and after the relationship
- the domestic contributions of both parties
- the future needs of both parties
- the needs of any children, and how that will affect each parent’s needs
- what is fair in the circumstances
What will happen with our children? Do we have to go to court to organise that?
When separating from a partner you have children with you do not necessarily have to go to court but it’s usually a good idea to make some sort of formal agreement, including getting advice from a lawyer.
A parenting agreement can include decisions about:
- where the children will live
- how often they will see each parent and how long they will spend with them
- how important or long-term decisions are made, such as where the children will go to school
- what will happen on special days like birthdays and holidays
- how much time children will spend with other people, for example their grandparents
There are several ways you can make parenting arrangements if you can reach some sort of agreement directly with your partner, or by each party’s solicitors negotiating on their behalf. These include:
- an informal verbal or written agreement with the other parent – this is not an agreement made in court, and it is not enforceable by a court if either party changes their mind, moves or breaks the agreement. This is usually only a short-term option.
- a parenting plan – an agreement reached by both parents, usually with the assistance of a third party (which could be a lawyer, mediator or family counsellor). A parenting plan is not enforceable by a court, but it will be used as a reference should a court case occur later on, so it’s important to get right.
- a consent order (or parenting order) – a formal document lodged in a court that outlines each party’s responsibilities. Consent orders can be made without physically appearing in court, but are legally binding.
If you and your partner can’t reach an agreement you may have to go to court, where court orders will be made that are legally enforceable. While it’s important for you and your partner to reach an agreement, the most important factor is what is best for the children – a court will always base its decision on what is best for the children. What children want is not necessarily the same as what is best for them, and while a court will take what they want into consideration how much weight they give a child’s opinion will depend on their age, and several other factors.
What about money? How do I organise child support and/or spousal maintenance?
Spousal maintenance and child support are separate payments, and eligibility is worked out separately. Spousal maintenance is for a spouse; child support is for children. Both are separate and additional to your property rights.
Child support is usually calculated by the Department of Human Services using complex formulae that assess how much time children spend with each parent, and how much each parent earns. However parents can choose to opt out of the government system and establish their own child support agreement. You should generally seek legal advice before signing an agreement, and in some cases you are legally required to receive independent legal advice before signing one.
Child support may continue past the age of 18 in some circumstances, such as the child still being at school, being at university or if he/she has a disability. In some states this is referred to as child maintenance, but in NSW it is still known as child support.
Spousal maintenance is less definite, and there are many variables that can affect if it is awarded, how much is paid, and for how long it is paid. People from both de-facto and married relationships are eligible. Divorcees must apply within 12 months of divorce, and partners who separate from a de-facto relationship must apply within 2 years of separation. Factors that are considered for spousal maintenance include your age, income, ability to work and whether your ability to work has been affected by your relationship.
Should I get a Binding Financial Agreement before marriage?
Binding Financial Agreements (BFAs, sometimes known as ‘prenups’ when arranged before a marriage) can actually be entered into before, during or after a relationship. They are a way of organising what both parties think should happen in the case of a relationship break down. If one or both parties have significant assets (see our brochure for clarification) a BFA is usually recommended, it can be a way to decide what will happen to those assets if a separation were to occur.
BFAs are certainly a useful tool. They can potentially save huge courts costs, as well as the emotional strain of negotiating during difficult times.
How much will it cost?
It depends on what is involved. No two families are the same and every family has different circumstances.
At CLW we will provide you with an estimate of our fees at your first consultation once we understand your particular circumstances. If necessary, we will provide regular updated estimates as we become aware of your facts, the other party’s allegations or demands, and the court’s specific rulings in your case.
How long does it take?
In any family law matter there are many variables to consider, and no two cases are the same. As with the cost, we will be able to provide a more accurate estimate of how long your case might take once we have spoken to you and know your circumstances. It’s important to note that in instances of family violence or abuse, where your safety or your children’s safety might be in danger there are options available to make applications to the courts very quickly.
Meet our dedicated team of family law solicitors
Rated a Best Law Firm in Doyles Guide 2018
97% of cases settled out of court
We make things easy, efficient and worry-free. Talk to us today.
Our Family Lawyers Testimonials
She was awesome! Spot on, efficient, no BS and yet very relatable. To the point and gets results fast.
I truly appreciate all the time, support, and care that Sheree, Tilley, Joyce and your good-self provided for me. You brought back my hope and optimism. That is such a priceless gift. You all achieved wonders and unfathomable achievement in what is such a complex and delicate area of life. You deal with people at their most raw, wounded and vulnerable and do so with such empathy and unrelenting positivity. I do not know how you do it – but am grateful that you did do it always without fail and with such professionalism and consideration. Thank you again and I sincerely wish you all the very, very best for the future.
Very quickly we established a sense of trust which made me feel calmer during a stressful time. They have offered excellent advice and always been quick to respond. I would not hesitate to use them again or recommend them to a friend.
They have provided me with outstanding advice and followed my instructions in an extremely timely manner. The firm always maintains professionalism of a high standard. I trust my lawyers and feel confident with their direction.
I always felt that my questions were thoughtfully and promptly responded to. I felt that there was a thoroughness and kindness to the support I received and that it was also personal in trying to help me come to a quick resolution.