We Have Expertise in Family Court Litigation
You have, or your partner has, commenced property and financial proceedings in the Family Court already. You may be representing yourself, or you may have a lawyer but are seeking a second opinion. Regardless of which stage of the court proceedings you find yourself at, we can provide you with guidance, advice and legal representation.
How To Fairly Divide The Assets Of The Relationship?
Unlike in other countries, the division of the assets and liabilities of a relationship in Australia is not automatically 50/50.
Family lawyers and the Family Court use a four-stage process for determining the division of assets and liabilities.
The first stage is determining the net asset pool. This means:
The second stage involves determining each party’s contributions, specifically: contributions at the commencement of cohabitation, or what are known as initial contributions; commencements during the relationship; and commencements since the date of separation.
There are three types of contributions:
Based on each party’s contributions, the Family Court or a family lawyer will determine an appropriate percentage division of the net assets of the relationship.
The third stage involves determining what each person’s needs will be after the end of the relationship. These are commonly referred to as “future needs” factors. “Future needs” factors include things such as: a person’s age and health; a person’s income, earning capacity and financial resources; care of children under 18; and whether a person is receiving child support.
If one party has greater future needs than the other, they will get a percentage adjustment in their favour.
For example, a percentage division of net assets based on the parties’ contributions might be 50/50. However, the wife may then get a 10% adjustment in her favour, because she has greater future needs than the husband. This would result in a final percentage division of net assets of 60/40 in favour of the wife.
The fourth and final stage of this four-stage process is to make sure that the proposed percentage division of net assets is just and equitable. This is because the Family Court has a duty to make property and financial orders that are just and equitable.
We can help you understand what a fair division of net assets looks like in your situation.
How Your Case Could Settle?
The fact that you are in the Family Court does not mean that your matter cannot or will not settle. The good news is that the vast majority of cases in the Family Court settle before they ever get to a final hearing or trial. The Family Court also actively encourages the parties to reach a resolution before they reach the trial stage.
In a property case, one very important court event is the Conciliation Conference. This is the Family Court of WA’s one and only attempt to mediate the property dispute between you and your ex-partner. Conciliation Conferences are often successful in helping the parties reach a final agreement.
A Conciliation Conference is essentially a mediation-style conference with a Family Court Registrar or Magistrate, who does their best to encourage the parties to reach an agreement and avoid further court proceedings. It involves sitting in a conference room with your ex-partner and your lawyer (if you have one). The court normally allocates about 2 hours for a Conciliation Conference. If the parties reach an agreement, then the lawyers can draw up your agreement in a document called a Minute of Consent Orders.
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5 BenefitS of Getting Legal Advice Early
Speaking to an experienced family lawyer is often the first step to get clarity about your rights, your options, and what to do next.
We have a wealth of experience representing people in your situation at Family Court hearings and conferences. We are familiar with most of the judges, magistrates and registrars at the Family Court of WA, how they operate, what they look for, and how best to present your case to them.
The Family Court process can be stressful and confusing. There is also a lot of paperwork involved. We can help demystify the process for you and also help you understand all the various court forms and documents you are likely to come across.
The good news is that most cases in the Family Court of WA settle before they ever get to a final hearing or trial. As experienced negotiators, we can help you negotiate a final settlement with your ex-partner or ex-partner’s lawyer. Our priority is always to solve problems and reduce conflict, rather than escalate it.
A good family lawyer is child-focused and committed not just to ensuring the best possible outcome for you, but more importantly, the best possible outcome for your children. “Child-focused” means focusing on what is in the best interests of the children, rather than on the best interests of other people such as the parents or grandparents.
You Are In Experienced Hands
Jeff Hewitt is head of MKI Legal’s family law team. Jeff is a senior family lawyer with over 15 years’ experience.
Jeff practises exclusively in family law, and has extensive experience in property and financial matters, parenting and childern’s matters, de factor property matters, family law matters affecting same sex couples, superannuation splitting, spousal maintenance, divorce, child support, child support agreements, binding financial agreements, and consent orders.
Jeff is an experienced nefotiator who takes great pride in resolving disputes and keeping people out of court as much as possible.
In his spare time, Jeff enjoys spending time with his family, playing guitar, reading, meditation, and supporting his beloved footy team.
Jeff is a member of the Family Law Practitioners’ Association of Western Australia.
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