It’s surprising how many myths surround family law. The complex nuances of family law get trapped under a myriad of myths and misconceptions. When a potential client meets with a family law specialist, it becomes the lawyer’s responsibility to disabuse the client of their misconceptions. The law is expansive and complex, so it is understandable that the general public find it to be confusing and a little overwhelming.
The opinion that women get ‘’everything’’ in a divorce is one of many widespread myths. Men frequently complain about how the law is set against them, unfairly favouring women. This is not true. In family law, each case is looked at individually; there is no one-size- fits-all approach. Spousal maintenance is granted after careful consideration of both parties’ financial situation, employment situation, and other pertinent factors. Settlements vary according to the concerned Judge’s discretion of what is considered “just and equitable’’.
In cases where the marriage ends in a divorce as a result of an affair, the ‘’innocent’’ party should not expect to be compensated with a favourable property settlement—or expect the party at fault to be penalised in any way for their behaviour. Australia has a no-fault jurisdiction, which means that the court will not pass judgements based on morality in such cases.
This is another assumption that most people have. Property might be divided up equally between both parties in some cases, but that only happens when all the factors considered by the court lead to such a decision. Equal division of property is not a foregone conclusion in divorce cases, as many people believe. Property division is another very unique area where many factors come into play in deciding the results. The law looks at the financial and non-financial contributions of both parties, their future needs, and the length of the relationship to determine how the property should be divided.
If the child tells the court who he/she wants to live with, the court has to take that into consideration, right? Well, not necessarily. Unless your children are teens (in which case their views are taken into consideration), the court looks at other more pressing factors before making its decision.
If a property is in one party’s name, the other party has no claim over it. This is not true. In a marriage where a property is registered in one person’s name, it is still considered to be an asset of both parties and gets added to the asset pool.
This is another misconception that has been debated about over and over again. Fathers claim that mothers are given preferential treatment and automatically given custody of the children. While this is not true, it’s easy to see how it might look so.
We must keep in mind that the law makes the children’s best interest its top priority. And since it is in a child’s best interest to have a stable living arrangement with one parent—at least till they reach 5 years of age—mothers tend to get primary custody of the children. This is because young children have a stronger bond with their mothers (in most cases). But as the children grow older, spending time with the other parent becomes beneficial for them.
The law does not make provisions for ‘’sharing custody’’ of pets. Pets are considered property and the court will allocate it to one of you, as a part of the property division. In most cases, parties come to a mutual non-legal agreement on how much time each party will have with the pet. If there is any dispute regarding sharing time with the pet, the court will resolve it by simply allocating the pet to one of the parties.
Family law is an extensive area of law and cannot be fully explained in one article. If you have any specific concerns and are looking for guidance, look for family law specialists in Sydney to help you navigate the complex law and gain a better understanding of what you can and cannot expect the law to do for you. Knowing the law and your rights is the first step to making a positive change to your situation.
Read More: The Global Dispatch
By: Colin Steinway
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