Separation can be made even more difficult if you and your ex-partner are from different faiths, and it can be confusing trying to understand what it means for your children after you separate.

There are more than 4,000 religions Australians may belong to, so this is not an uncommon issue.

You and your ex-partner may both want your children to follow your individual religions, which can cause conflict that can have a negative impact on your family, particularly the children who may experience confusion as to which religion they should follow.

This is a matter that the Family Court has struggled to settle in the past, however there are a number of factors considered when attempting to solve such cases.

  • The court will not be biased towards any particular religion when considering parental arrangements for the children.
  • The court will encourage a middle ground approach that allows both parents to educate their children on their individual religions, but the court will also have a hand in the final decision of which religion will be chosen if it is not in the child’s best interests to follow both parents’ faiths.
  • The court will then consider which of the two religions the child should learn and which should be discarded.
  • The court does not weigh up which religion has the higher value. Instead, they view religion as a lifestyle choice and consider which religion would facilitate a better lifestyle for the child. Whichever religion appears to be a better fit for the child’s best interests will be taken into account.
  • The court will also assess the extent to which each parent will attempt to educate their child on their chosen religion even if the decision has been made for the child to follow the other religion. If the decision has been made for the child to follow your ex-partner’s religion, it would not be in the child’s best interests for you to continue educating them on your own religion.
  • The court will not interfere with the parents’ right to continue following their chosen religion after the decision for the child is made.
  • The court also notes that some religions are exclusive. If your ex-partner’s religion was decided for you child, and your child is feeling excluded from you, the Family Court may order the child to be removed from your ex-partner’s care and thereby removed from your ex-partner’s religion.
  • If your child has already become attached to your religion, the court is unlikely to order that they switch to your ex-partner’s faith, as this drastic change would not be considered in the best interest of the child.
  • It is important to note however that once a child grows into an adult, they are free to decide for themselves which religion they wish to follow.

If you are struggling to decide what is best for your child, No Lawyers’ Family Law Resources can help you consider the best possible outcome of your situation.

Separation and divorce will introduce you to a whole new world of rules and regulations – there are laws dealing with the separation of property and assets, and stringent guidelines to follow when working out custody agreements.

While this can be overwhelming at first, it is also genuinely helpful – because in a stressful and emotional time like this, it can be quite comforting to know that at the very least there are rules to follow and forms to fill in to make sure the settlement is as fair as possible.

In regards to possessions and shared children, the law is reasonably straightforward; but what about shared pets? How do you determine who gets to keep the dog, the cat, the snakes…any pet acquired during the relationship?

If you can, work it out privately.

Even though you might love your pet as you would love a child, all pets are classified as property when it comes to the law.

Regular family pets – cats, dogs, guinea pigs etc – are not considered valuable assets and the courts will generally frown up any disputes concerning such pets. There are exceptions, of course. If an animal has a genuine monetary value, like a race horse or a pedigree dog sought after by breeders, the courts will take this into consideration and include such an animal in the property settlement. The same goes for animals that generate a substantial income, such as cattle.

As a general rule, the courts encourage separating partners to work out care arrangements for their pets without getting lawyers involved; so it might be worth having a sit down (or at the very least a civil phone conversation) and try to find a solution.

If you can’t – here are your options:

If you absolutely cannot agree on who will keep the dog – and are unwilling or unable to share doggy custody – you can get the courts involved. Remember, this is not a matter of custody, it’s a matter of property settlement.

If you apply for a property settlement, you are going to have to participate in Family Dispute Resolution (FDR); it’s basically mediation that will hopefully lead to the matter being settled out of court.

However, if there is simply no working it out, the matter will go to family court as part of your property settlement, where some of these points may be considered:

  • Who paid for the pet?
  • Is the pet registered in one party’s name?
  • Was one party the main caregiver of the pet?
  • Who has the accommodation best suited for the pet?

If your pet becomes part of the property settlement process, it is up to the court what happens next – that means the court can theoretically order the pet to be sold so you can split the proceeds, the same way it might with a house or a car.

If you have shared human children, the court might decide that the pet should stay with the children, meaning that it will travel with them between the parents’ houses depending on custody arrangement; or alternatively order the dog to stay with the parent who sees the children less to decrease their stress and solitude.

Keep in mind, once the court has signed orders, it is very hard to appeal the decision, so it’s often in everyone’s best interests to settle pet matters privately.

 

With international travel hopefully not too far away, you and your ex-partner may want to start thinking about making arrangements for future holidays. One of the most important factors to consider is your child’s passport.

It is important that you understand the rights you have after separating from your partner, particularly when your child is involved. Obtaining a passport for your child works differently after you separate. This article will explain the process and your obligations as a parent post separation.

Parental responsibility is described by the Australian Passport Act 2005 as someone who is the child’s parent, lives with the child or has responsibility for the child, and has guardianship or custody of the child.

As outlined in The Australian Passport Act 2005, for a child to be issued with a passport, either the consent of both parents must be obtained or a State, Territory or Federal court has granted permission for the child to travel, live with or spend time with someone outside of Australia.

If you are worried that your ex-partner will attempt to apply for your child’s passport without your consent, you may want to apply for a Child Alert with the Australian Passport Office. A Child Alert requires the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to give special consideration to your child’s passport application. However, it is important to note that a Child Alert does not guarantee that your child will not be able to obtain a passport or travel overseas. You may also wish to seek a court order to prevent the issuing of your child’s passport, to make changes to the handling of your child’s passport if it is already issued, or to prevent your child from travelling overseas entirely.

On the other hand, if you are wanting to apply for your child’s passport and your ex-partner does not consent, there are also steps you can take. You can apply for a court order requiring your ex-partner’s consent for the passport. Your situation may also meet certain circumstances present in The Australian Passport Act 2005.

  • Your ex-partner who is non-consenting is missing, presumed dead or cannot give consent due to being medically incapable;
  • There is a family violence order made against your ex-partner;
  • No contact has been made with your ex-partner for a significant time period;
  • An order has been made under child welfare law that gives parental responsibility to the parent who is consenting rather than the parent who is non-consenting;
  • A family crisis has resulted in urgent need for the child to travel overseas; or
  • The welfare of the child would be drastically impacted if overseas travel was not allowed.

If you do meet any of these circumstances, you and your child may be able to travel overseas without the consent of your ex-partner. However, it is important to remember that court procedures can take time, so you should not book international travel until any issues present with your child’s passport have been fully resolved.

If you are concerned that an issue with your child’s passport may arise after separation, No Lawyers’ Family Law Resources can help you understand your rights and options moving forward.

Considering the legalities of your relationship can feel a little weird and clinical; after all, it’s all about love, right? That said, there are moments in every long-term relationship when you need to be aware of your legal rights and obligations – be it for tax purposes, health reasons or during a break-up situation. The legal recognition of same-sex relationships has evolved rapidly during the last decade, so it’s fair enough if you are feeling a little confused regarding your rights.

However, it’s actually not as complicated as it might seem. Here’s what you need to know:

Same-Sex Relationships are fully legally recognised.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Australia since December 2017; however, even if you are not married to your partner, your relationship has the same legal validity as any other de facto relationship. You can make your de facto relationship extra official by registering a civil union or domestic partnership, if you choose. In any case, you have the same legal rights and obligations as heterosexual couples.

Rights and Obligations While You’re in a Relationship
Since 2008, the Australian government no longer discriminates against same-sex couples and their children when it comes to everyday legalities. That means if you are living together, sharing expenses and familial responsibilities (i.e. shared children, pets, mortgage etc.), your relationship is subject to the same laws as any other de facto relationship or marriage. That means:

  • you have to report to social services as a couple (i.e. disclose your partner/wife’s income when applying for any government assistance)
  • you are entitled to include your partner/wife in your will and as a beneficiary of your superannuation
  • both of you will appear on your child/children’s birth certificate, registered as “mother” and “parent”, if they were conceived through invitro fertilisation
  • you can grant your partner/wife power of attorney regarding your affairs and vice versa
  • you can grant your partner/wife statutory health authority and vice versa
  • you have equal parental responsibility
  • you can sponsor your partner/wife in case of immigration and vice versa
  • you are able to adopt and/or foster children

Rights and Obligations in case of Separation or Divorce
If you are in a same-sex marriage, you have the exact same rights and responsibilities when going through a divorce as any other married couple. You will have to go through the process of property division and, if you have children, make custody arrangements suitable to your respective situations.
It used to be a different story for de facto relationships; however, since 2009 de facto couples separating may apply for a property settlement provided:

  • they have been living together for two years or more
  • one partner has contributed significantly to the joint property (financial or otherwise)
  • you have shared children

In case of separation/divorce you and your partner/wife will both still have parental rights and responsibilities, provided you both appear on the child/children’s birth certificate.

If domestic violence has occurred during your relationship/marriage, you can apply for domestic violence orders and are entitled to protection and legal representation.

 

 

Ending a relationship is a difficult time in anyone’s life, whether you are married or in a de facto relationship.

A de facto relationship involves two people (including same-sex) who aren’t married but have lived together as a couple for at least two years without separation.

In order to be in a de facto relationship, there must be evidence of a ‘genuine domestic relationship’. Some factors that indicate this exists are the degree of financial dependency, whether a sexual relationship exists, the degree of commitment to sharing your lives, ownership of your property and caring for children if any exist.

Once these factors are determined, the court can make orders regarding the division of property and assets.

De facto couples are granted many of the same legal rights as married couples. Under the Family Law Act 1975, de facto couples are entitled to make prenuptial agreements about their property. De facto couples are also able to apply to the court for property settlement, however the application must be made within two years of the date of separation.

You also have the right to apply for spousal maintenance from your de facto partner if you feel you cannot adequately support yourself. The outcome will also depend on your partner’s ability to provide financial support, your age and your ability to work.

If you are ending a de facto relationship, it is always beneficial to seek legal aid, particularly if children and joint property or assets are involved.

To end a de facto relationship, you do not have to un-register your relationship or receive a separation certificate, there must simply be an intention to separate communicated to the other party. Similar to married couples, this can then be actioned by one party moving out, or remaining separated under the same roof.

It is not uncommon for arguments or disagreements to arise during the separation process. If you and your partner are struggling to come to terms with your de facto separation, it can be helpful to seek legal assistance.

No Lawyers’ Family Legal Resources aim to guide you through the process of ending your de facto relationship and provide tips on how to transition to the next chapter of your life.

Going to court can be an overwhelming experience, especially if it is your first time. All cases are different and your options will depend on the specific circumstances of your case.

There are a variety of disputes that can arise in the Family Court, such as parenting orders, property settlement, child support or spousal maintenance.

Often, couples can resolve these disputes by not going to court and instead seeking out other methods such as mediation, where couples discuss their issues with a third party.

However, some couples will be unable to reach a mutual agreement without consulting the court.

Many individuals wonder if taking their case to court will result in justice. Unfortunately, court cases do not always end up with an outcome that satisfies both parties. Taking your case to court will result in a decision being made or a dispute being resolved, which does not always appear to have delivered justice.

You are able to represent yourself in a Queensland court, however you may wish to contact a lawyer to discuss the more complex legal matters that you may find difficult to navigate without legal training or experience. If you choose to represent yourself, you must have knowledge about the law and the court process.

Some individuals choose to represent themselves rather than seeking legal advice if they cannot afford the fees, do not qualify for a grant of legal aid, do not want to engage a lawyer, or believe they can handle the process on their own.

The cost of legal representation will depend on your individual situation. For example, for some cases, only one court appearance is required, however for other matters, more than one court appearance is required, rendering the process more expensive. However, engaging a lawyer and allowing a professional to take control of your case can often remove a lot of stress involved in the court process.

There are both advantages and disadvantages of going to court. Advantages include finding closure with the court’s decisions, having legally enforceable orders that can result in consequences if breached, utilising the powers and methods of the court, reaching a final outcome, and the urgency that can be brought to your case if needed.

Disadvantages include the possibility for court cases to be delayed or extended, the cost of legal fees, the risk of the situation becoming emotionally draining, and the possibility of parties not agreeing with or being content with final orders made in court.

The decision you make should be based on your individual circumstance and whether or not you and your partner can come to mutual decisions without the court’s help.

One Lawyers’ Family Law Resources can help you consider what is the best decision for you to achieve the outcome to suit your situation and specific needs.

Coparenting, in a nutshell, is the process of raising shared children after a divorce or separation. It is also one of the biggest challenges former partners face once their separation or divorce has become finalised.

Especially in the early days, when you might prefer to limit your contact with the ex to approximately nothing at all, having to be in constant communication and seeing them regularly can be hard. However, it is something that has to be done in order for both parties to establish a stable and productive coparenting relationship.

Coparenting can take many forms; every arrangement is different. The days of weekend dads are coming to an end and a lot of coparents choose to take more of a fair-share approach when it comes to time with the children.

Whatever arrangement works for your family depends on a myriad of factors; like living arrangements, employment status and work hours, the ages of the children, the school and childcare hours… the list goes on.

That said, there are some universal rules that can be applied to any coparenting relationship in order to make things run as smoothly as can reasonably be expected.

 

Doing it for the Kids

No matter how much you may loathe your former partner – and vice versa – this does not change the love you both have for your children – and vice versa. No matter what has happened to get your relationship to breaking point (unless there have been incidents of domestic violence and/or substance abuse issues), now is the time to put it firmly aside and commit to a civil coparenting relationship for the sake of the children. You don’t have to stay together for them, that would be insane, but you do have to keep it together for them.

No Trash Talking

You may not speak ill of your former partner in front of your children. You may not.
Once the kids are asleep or at their other parent’s house, you can vent to your friends to your heart’s content; but in front of the children you must maintain a positive, or at the very least neutral, tone when talking about your coparent. There is nothing worse for a child than having to question a parent’s fundamental goodness, so whatever ugliness has occurred between the adults is not kids’ business.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Commit to a respectful dialogue with your coparent. There’s no need to talk about anything other than the children, unless both of you feel the need to, and there is absolutely no point in getting into arguments. You both want the best for your kids, so you need to get on the same page with as little conflict as possible. If you feel a conversation is taking a turn towards unproductive anger, it’s perfectly fine to call a time-out and continue at a later time when you’ve both calmed down. This is hard enough for everyone as it is, there’s no sense in making it harder.

Be Organised

Family life is a juggling act and coparenting is no different. In order for this to work with minimal stress, it is vital for both parents to be organised and on top of everyone’s schedule. Both of you need to know about important dates and times; not just for the kids’ stuff (i.e. soccer practise, dance recitals, field trips, sleep overs, friends’ birthday parties), but also for the adult things (i.e. work travel, best mate’s wedding, health appointments). If both of you know what’s going on, you will be able to navigate through the everyday madness without having additional surprise challenges thrown in.

Be Flexible

Even the best plans and schedules sometimes get thrown off track by unforeseeable events. If your coparent comes down with gastro, has a death in the family or is called away for a work emergency, plans will have to change. Just like in any other family, no matter what its structure, you need to be able to roll with the punches to some extent. There is no point in getting overly resentful when your coparent asks you to help them out; a little give and take goes a long way to keep everyone as relaxed and happy as possible.

Trust

This is a tough one, considering your trust in your ex is probably rather shaken at the moment. That said, even though they might be a rubbish partner or spouse, they are probably still a very good and most committed parent. So, while you may not necessarily trust your former partner to look out for your best interests, you have to trust that they would never deliberately do anything to upset, harm or disadvantage your kids. Knowing that the children are well taken care of when they are with your coparents, gives you the freedom to enjoy your adult time – so you can welcome the kids back recharged and ready to go.

Take Your Time

This is a new situation for everyone. It’s bound to feel weird at first and there will be tears and tantrums and lots of feelings – for everyone, adults included. The best thing you can do it keep trying, re-negotiate when something is genuinely not working and maintain open communications. Also, you are allowed to cherish your kid-free time and use is as you see fit. If you want to be productive, clean your house, get lots of work done – that’s cool. If you’d rather go to the beach on your own, binge a series or – scandalous – go to an actual party and stay out late – that is also cool.

 

Every family has its struggles, no matter what its shape; so try not to worry too much when things aren’t running smoothly. You learned on the job when you first became parents and becoming coparents works the same. Stay calm and keep on trying.

Ending a relationship can be an emotionally draining experience for anyone, however if children are involved the process often becomes even more difficult.

Many couples believe that after they separate, their child will be able to choose who to live with when they reach a certain age. However, under the Family Law Act, there is not a particular age that a child can make these decisions.

While the child’s age is taken into consideration by the court when determining their living arrangements, there are 16 other factors that ultimately form a decision that will put the child’s best interests at the forefront.

The two main factors the court will consider are the child having a solid relationship with their parents and both parents being able to shield the child from harm. Where your child wants to live is therefore not one of the court’s primary considerations as this may not be in line with their best interests.

The court will however grant a certain weight to your child’s wishes, depending on their maturity level, understanding of the situation, and whether or not they have been influenced by a particular parent.

For example, if a child says they wish to stay with one parent because they are a better cook, the court will apply limited weight to this for the final decision. However, if a child wants to stay with one parent because their other parent is violent towards them, the court will consider this to be in the child’s best interests, which will influence the decision.

Your child can be evaluated by a family consultant or a court expert to determine these factors and provide a thorough report that will assist the court to understand what is in the child’s best interests based on their individual circumstances.

It is recommended that you attempt to organise parenting arrangements without requiring assistance from the court. No Lawyers’ Family Law Resources aim to assist you with this process and provide information necessary to guide you to a decision that will benefit you and your child.

However, if you have just undergone a separation and are struggling with your child’s wishes, you may wish to consult legal advice so you can be confident you are making the right decisions for you and your family.

 

Separation can be a stressful and emotional experience, particularly depending on the living circumstances of each person after the break up.

After separating from your partner, you may decide to move out and live somewhere else, or you may choose to remain separated under one roof. This article will help you understand how your situation might be affected by living with your partner once you have separated.

Being separated under one roof means you and your partner are still living at the same residential address despite no longer being in a relationship.

In 2019, almost 39,000 people were registered with Centrelink as being separated under one roof in Australia, so it’s likely more common than you think.

There are various reasons a couple may wish to do this, for example, if they are waiting to finalise their divorce or financial settlement.

Couples may also wish to save money by remaining in the one house, or live together for the sake of the children.

Whatever the reason you have for being separated under one roof; it is important to seek legal advice so you are well informed on the legal implications this living arrangement may incur.

The legal date of the separation is important if you are going through a divorce, and being separated under one roof may make it difficult to determine the specific date.

In order for a divorce to be granted, a couple must have remained separated for twelve months and one day.

The separation date is also important for de facto couples who have two years from the date of separation to apply for a division of property.

If you have been separated under one roof, you must prove to the court that you have made your partner aware of your intent to remain separated.

You should move out of the bedroom you previously shared, alert your friends and family to your changed circumstances, and undertake certain activities on your own.

It is also important to keep track of any relevant documents or changes you have made to convince the court of your separation.

The court will consider all of these elements, such as changing your finances, holiday arrangements or social activities to determine if you really have remained separated despite living under one roof.

This is known as establishing a ‘consortium vitae’ and is essential to begin the division of assets and liabilities and to finalise the divorce.

If you have just gone through a separation and are feeling stressed or anxious about living under the same roof as your partner, the legal firms listing in the No Lawyers Support Services can help. They can explain the implications of the law to your individual situation and provide expert advice so you can feel confident in your decisions and actions moving forward.

 

 

Co-parenting is perhaps the biggest challenge couples face after separating; it is a minefield of emotions and can occasionally feel like an organisational nightmare, especially once children start school.

Suddenly, a routine centered largely around play and flexible pick-up times becomes a lot more rigid and there are many more things to remember. However, there is no situation that can’t be wrangled into submission with cooperation, and the handy hacks below.

Review your Schedule

Depending on your co-parenting arrangement prior to your kids going to school, you might have to make some small changes to make sure the transition is as stress-free as possible.

Mid-week change overs, where the kids move from one parent to the other during the work week, might throw out their school routine, so it might be wiser to re-schedule their moving day to the weekend.

Also, check out the dates for public holidays and term breaks to make sure both parents know when to take time off work.

Sync Your Calendars

No matter where the kids are staying any given day or week – depending on your co-parenting arrangement – both parents should have all school-related events penciled in their calendar.

Free dress day, excursion, school swimming, sports carnival, book week parade… the list of special events throughout the school year is endless and it’s easy to lose track.

By syncing your calendars, both parents are accountable, the kids don’t miss out on the highlights of the school year and everyone can relax.

Two of Everything

To avoid mad post-bedtime dashes to collect essential school stuff from your co-parent’s place, make sure both of you have (at least) one set of everything the kids might require during the school week.

Uniforms, swimmers, sports gear, lunchboxes – if you have a child in school, these items should be living at your house permanently, even if the kids don’t.

Inform your School

To ensure things run as smoothly as possible, it’s important for your kids’ school to know about your family situation and childcare arrangements.

They need to have both parents’ contact details and addresses; and they need to know who is responsible for the kids on any given day/week, so they know whom to contact if there is an emergency.

Yes, it can feel weird to explicitly lay out the details of your co-parenting to the folks at the school admin office, but try not to worry about it.

It’s in the children’s best interest – and you are hardly the first separated couple in the catchment.

Last – but not least – Communicate

Good communication is key if you want to co-parent successfully; and this becomes all the more important during the early school years when everyone is adjusting to this new chapter.

Being frank in your communications with your former partner won’t safeguard you against all conflict, but it will keep unpleasant surprises at bay and give everyone a sense of security.

You are still in it together, as far as the kids are concerned, so it’s important to be on the same page.

Yes, the start of the school year can be daunting – but don’t be scared. Remember, you’ve made it through 2020 in one piece; there is nothing the new year can throw at you, your former partner and your children that you can’t handle. You’ve got this.

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