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5 Common Family Law Myths

Our family lawyers chime in on their top 5 family law myths that you may not know about… A Couple need to live together for 6 months to qualify as a de facto relationship. We hear this one a lot, and we don’t know where it comes from! The Family Law Act says that in […]

5 Common Family Law Myths

5 Common Family Law Myths

Our family lawyers chime in on their top 5 family law myths that you may not know about…

  1. A Couple need to live together for 6 months to qualify as a de facto relationship.

We hear this one a lot, and we don’t know where it comes from! The Family Law Act says that in order to commence proceedings for a property settlement, a de facto relationship must have lasted for at least 2 years, or the couple must have a child, or the party to the de facto relationship who applies for the order or declaration made substantial contributions and a failure to make the order or declaration would result in serious injustice to the applicant.

  1. As soon as you “hit the threshold” of a de facto relationship, all of your property and assets will be divided equally with the other person in the event of a split.

Whilst in theory this is a possibility, there are a number of factors that the Family Law Act specifies a Court must take into account when deciding a property settlement division, and there is no automatic assumption of an equal split.

  1. If 2 parents who have separated have children and those children spend equal amounts of time with each parent, then no child support is payable.

Whilst on the face of it we can see why this is a common assumption, in practice this is not the way it works. If either parent applies to the Child Support Agency they will use a formula set out in the legislation to work out if child support is payable, and if so, how much. The amount of nights a child spends with each parent is one factor, but there are others, including how much each parent earns.

  1. If you didn’t get married in Australia you can’t get divorced in Australia.

Again we can understand why this seems possible, but in fact it is not the case. If one spouse is an Australian Citizen, or regards Australia as their home and intends to live here permanently, or ordinarily lives in Australia and has done so for 12 months prior to filing an application, then an Australian Court has the power to grant a divorce. That is of course provided that the couple were validly married in another country.

  1. The Court will “punish” the person who is at fault for the breakdown of the relationship.

When we meet with clients for the first time, we are often asked about the consequences of behaviour and whether behaviour is relevant – in effect will the Court decide who is at fault for the relationship breaking down, and will that affect the property settlement outcome. Whether you think that is a good or a bad thing perhaps depends on your perspective, but the legal position in Australia is that the Court will not investigate the reasons behind the relationship ending.

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