Family Lawyers Gold Coast | De Facto Lawyers

Divorce, De Facto & Family Lawyers Gold Coast

At Bruce Legal, we are committed to the attitude that an early resolution of a family law dispute is often the best alternative to a litigated outcome.

We consider our clients deserve representation which is robust and committed to their goals, but also with caring and understanding of the emotional issues.

Our team of experts at Bruce Legal have the expertise and experience to help you through all your family law matters, including divorce, spousal maintenance, property settlement (including superannuation), parenting issues, child support and domestic violence.

Founding Solicitor, Murray Bruce and our Queensland Law Society Family Law Accredited Specialist, Angela Grigg, will manage your family law matter with compassion and understanding. At Bruce Legal, our priority is looking after our client’s needs and providing them with cost effective solutions. As your trusted Family Lawyers on the Gold Coast, we can assist you with all your family law matters.

If you are seeking more information on a family law matter, please get in touch with us today on (07) 5503 0233 for a confidential discussion about how Bruce Legal can help you.

Family Lawyers Gold Coast

As part of our Gold Coast Family Law services, we offer FREE initial case assessments, advice and representation in the following Family Law areas:

Please contact us now for your free initial case assessment.

If you are unsure about which area of Family Law you need advice in, please get in touch with us for clarification.

Free Family Law Case Assessment

Are you in need of Gold Coast Family Law Services for advice or representation? Don’t know where to start? Want to know what your legal entitlements are?

Our expert and understanding Gold Coast Family Lawyers are here to help you.

As compassionate and experienced lawyers, we understand that every family has a different set of dynamics and we are committed to providing you with a customised approach that has the best interests of your family as a whole.

At Bruce Legal, we believe in transparency in the solicitor - client relationship, and as part of our approach, we offer FREE Family Law case assessment consultations.

We are leading Family Lawyers Gold Coast wide and can be trusted to provide sensitive and pragmatic advice on your Family Law matter.

Our obligation free initial Family Law case assessment consultation will provide you with the following:

  • An opportunity to meet with Angela Grigg, our Queensland Law Society Accredited Family Law Specialist; who will provide you with a general assessment of your matter and what options may be available to you;
  • A general assessment of your matter and the options that may be available to you;
  • General advice about the law that applies to your matter;
  • A clear outline of the services we can offer and an estimate of our costs.

If you are experiencing Family Law issues, we encourage you to book your FREE initial Family Law case assessment consultations with one of our Family Lawyers by calling us on (07) 5503 0233 or by contacting us online.

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What You Can Expect When Engaging Us

Our expert and understanding Gold Coast Family Lawyers are here to help you.

We will assess the facts of your matter and advise you, in plain English, your likely entitlement, your options and the steps involved to bring about a resolution to your matter. As compassionate and experienced lawyers, we understand that no two families are the same and we are committed to providing you with a customised approach, tailored to address the best interests of your family.

We understand that in difficult circumstances, it is essential that we ensure, to the best of our ability, that you understand and are kept up to date with how your matter is proceeding. We will provide you with the information to enable you to make decisions with a clear understanding of the process.

Family Law FAQs

Below we have included some answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Family Law matters. If your question has not been addressed here, please feel free to call us on (07) 5503 0233 and book a free initial Family Law case assessment consultation with one of our Family Lawyers.

What is the difference between a Parenting Plan and a Consent Order?

If both parents reach agreement after the mediation or at any stage during court proceedings, there are 2 types of formal arrangements that can be made about parenting:

  • A parenting plan; or
  • A consent order.

Parenting Plan
A parenting plan is a document about the child’s welfare, signed by both parents and free from threat, duress or coercion. It is not filed in the court and is not binding or enforceable by the court.

The Court must have regard to the terms of the latest parenting plan when making a parenting order, but will not necessarily enforce the agreement if contested. The Court may find the parenting plan is not appropriate because it is not in the child’s best interests or reasonably practical. The Court has the power to make whatever orders are appropriate in the circumstances.

Consent Order

This is an agreement that has been drafted in the form of an order, signed by the parties and filed in the Court. A Judge or Registrar of the Court will consider the document and make the order in terms of the agreement if satisfied the arrangement is in the best interests of the children. The order is binding and enforceable.

We can assist you in navigating your children’s matter by providing advice in relation to your legal rights and obligations which promote the best interests of your children.

What are the grounds for divorce?

Broadly the technical criteria required for a divorce to be granted is that:

  • The parties have separated and have lived separately (even if still cohabitating at the same residence) for a continuous period of 12 months; and
  • There is no reasonable likelihood of cohabitation

In determining the above criteria, the Court may consider such factors as:

  • Whether the parties continue to cohabitate;
  • Whether the parties continue to engage in sexual relations;
  • Whether the parties present themselves in public as a couple;
  • Whether they care jointly for any children; and
  • Whether they still support and protect one another.

Do I have to pay child support if the child is not mine?

  • As a rule, child support is only payable by the parent of the child. Accordingly, the Department of Human Services (the Department) is unable to accept an application for a child support assessment unless the person listed in the application is the legal parent of the child in question. Note that the law considers biological children, adopted children and children as defined under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) to be eligible for child support.
  • Under s 107(1) of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth), if the Department accepts an application for child support from you, you can apply to the court for a declaration that they should not be assessed because you are not the parent of the child. If the court makes that declaration, s 107(5) holds that the Department is presumed to never have accepted the application your child support, and your obligations for this will end that day

What is a de facto relationship

To determine whether parties to a de facto relationship can be considered as a ‘couple’ under the law the following factors may be considered:

  • The length of the relationship;
  • The nature and extent of the parties who were living together;
  • If the parties were engaged in a sexual relationship;
  • The type of financial arrangements between the parties;
  • The type of property arrangements between the parties;
  • The degree of mutual commitment of a shared life between the parties;
  • Whether the relationship was registered in either State or Territory law;
  • The care and support of any children;
  • The reputation and the public aspects of the relationship.

The above factors are considered on an individual basis and there is no obligation to prove each and every of the above factors when establishing the existence of a de facto relationship.

It is important to note that the law is designed to expressly include both heterosexual and same sex relationships.

What are the circumstances which require mandatory notification to child welfare authorities?

A number of professions carry mandatory notification requirements where there is a reasonable concern that a child may be suffering abuse.  Some of the professions include teachers, doctors and other medical or mental health professionals, and community service workers.

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), compels court staff members, family and child counsellors and dispute resolution practitioners to report any information or suspicions of child abuse to the relevant child welfare authority.

Each party to Court proceedings concerning parenting matters is required to file a Notice of Risk that sets out any allegations of child abuse or family violence.

Do I have a right to have equal time with my child

There is no presumption of equal time.  The Court will often find that equal time may not be in the best interests of the child, for example, when:

  • There is evidence of high conflict between the parents;
  • There is evidence of domestic violence;
  • There is a significant distance between each of the parent’s residences;
  • There is a difference between the parenting styles of each parent;
  • The parents demonstrate in inability to communicate effectively; and
  • The child concerned is very young.

The Court will only make an order for equal shared time if that arrangement is in the child’s best interests and that the arrangement is reasonably practicable.

Am I eligible for spousal maintenance

The Family Law Act provides that if a party to a marriage/ de facto relationship is unable to support themselves by reason of:

  • Having the care and control of a child of the marriage/ de facto relationship under 18 years of age;
  • Age or physical or mental incapacity for appropriate gainful employment; or
  • Any other adequate reason.

the other party is liable to maintain that party, to the extent that party is reasonably able to do.

Can I get child support for my child over eighteen years?

Generally, child support ceases when a child turns 18 years or when a child finishes secondary education and obtains employment.  However, in circumstances where maintenance is necessary to enable a child to complete his or her education or because of a mental or physical disability of the child, it may be payable beyond the child turning 18 years.

At what age can my child decide where to live

Client’s often ask, “what age can my children decide where they want to live?”

The answer is that there is no specific age.

While the Court takes the wishes of a child into account it is not bound to make a decision in accordance with those wishes.  The weight given to a child’s wishes will depend upon the age and level of maturity of the child.  The court is more likely to consider the wishes of an older child but may still make orders contrary to an older child’s wishes if it is in the child’s best interests to do so.

A child cannot give oral evidence in the court proceedings so their wishes are usually presented to the court via a family report.

Can I agree with my husband about child support instead of going through the Child Support Agency?

Parties can make their own private arrangements in relation to child support and either enter into an informal agreement or a formal “Child Support Agreement”.  If a parent is on Centrelink payments, that parent may be required to obtain a child support assessment. If the agreement is correctly prepared and signed it can be enforced if a parent does not comply with it.

The agreement can be by way of a Binding Child Support Agreement or a Child Support Agreement.  In the case of a Binding Child Support Agreement, the parties must each obtain independent legal advice, prior to signing off on the agreement.

What can I do if the other parent takes our child?

A Court can issue orders to locate and recover the child and invoke the assistance of the Australian Federal Police in urgent situations.   An airport watch can be put in place in some circumstances to prevent the child being taken out of the country.  In some cases, an order can be made for publication of the details of the abduction in newspapers or the media.

If the other parent or someone related to the child removes the child from your care you should seek urgent legal advice

Will our child get a say in Court?

The views of the child are usually put before the court after an interview of the child by a court appointed expert, usually a psychologist or social worker, who will provide a report in relation to a variety of matters, including the child’s wishes if they are mature enough to express them.

What are my rights as a Grandparent?

The Family Law Act 1975 recognises the role of extended family members and significant people in the child’s life, along with the benefit to the child of maintaining such relationships. Extended family members can apply for orders under the Family Law Act.    It is common for grandparents to take on a larger role on birthdays and special occasions such as Christmas, Easter and holidays.   In some circumstances the child may be ordered to live with an extended family member, for example when there is evidence that it is not in the child’s best interests to live with a parent.

How can I pay my legal fees if my partner controls all the money?

It is not unusual for there to be a significant disparity in income between a separating couple.  In cases where one party controls the money and the other has no access to money for legal fees, the party without access to funds may be entitled to apply for an order that the other party fund part or all of their reasonable legal costs.  .

Whether you are entitled to this type of payment will depend on your own, very specific set of circumstances.

Can I move away with my child?

When a proposal is made for child to move to a location where it will make it more difficult for the child to spend regular time with the other parent, this is referred to as relocation.

Relocation cases are difficult because the court must balance the right of the child to have a close and meaningful relationship with both parents with the possible advantages to the child of allowing the relocation (for example better educational opportunities, financial benefits, job opportunities and the like).

Each case is decided on its own facts.  It is for the court to decide which proposal (i.e. the proposal of the relocating parent or the proposal of the parent opposing the relocation) is in the child’s best interests.

You should seek legal advice before moving away with a child without the other parent’s permission.

Can I access the cash in my superannuation splitting Order?

Not unless you meet the usual conditions of release relating to age or are otherwise eligible to access your superannuation. The money transferred to your own superannuation fund will be treated the same as your existing superannuation.

I had my business for years before we met, why is my partner entitled to any of it?

All assets and liabilities of each of the parties at the time of property settlement are generally in the pool available for division after separation including business assets. The court will weigh up your contribution to the value of the business at the commencement of the relationship as well as direct and indirect contributions during the relationship.

I had house when we started living together many years ago and my partner had nothing. Do I get compensation?

The court does not provide compensation but rather looks at the financial and non financial contributions of each party to the assets and to the relationship. The longer the marriage, the more likely that the other party has made other financial and non financial contributions.

My partner is a beneficiary in her family's trust but says that is nothing to do with our settlement.

Much will depend on the nature of the trust and your wife's entitlements but it will be a matter that will be given proper consideration in the property settlement.  It will either be taken into account as property available for division or as a financial resource of your partner, possibly leading to an adjustment in your favour depending on the circumstances.