(i) Overview

The breakdown of marriage and families is a stressful and often confusing experience. Issues are often complex, diverse and carry an emotional burden.

We provide you with friendly, empathetic, prompt and professional advice to enable you to make the right decisions following the breakdown of your relationship.

Our aim is to assist clients in resolving matters amicably and promptly without the need for contested and expensive litigation in the Family Court.

We understand your concerns in relation to the cost of resolving family disputes and will provide upfront and accurate quotations for all work to be performed. We will work with you to find the best way to expeditiously resolve your matter.

Our family law team has superb technical and legal knowledge with a depth of experience across all areas. Our family law team also has access to the resources and knowledge of our company's other specialist teams, such as commercial law, property law and settlements.

This allows us to provide clear, concise advice to guide clients and enable them to make this difficult transition in life as quickly and easily as possible.

We have expertise in the following areas:

  • Disputes between married and de facto couples (including parenting, property and child support)
  • Advising you in relation to claims against deceased estates and representing you in litigation
  • Preparing your Will, Enduring Power of Attorney and Guardianship and Advanced Health Directive, and advising you generally with respect to your succession planning requirements
  • Representation in the Family Court (parenting and property matters), Supreme Court (estate litigation) and the State Administrative Tribunal (Guardianship and Administration)
  • Mediation services
  • Binding Financial Agreements (Pre-Nups)
  • Personal guarantees

We provide litigation representation, strategy and advice in relation to the successful resolution of disputes. We are committed to guiding clients right through the various stages of any matter and will act diligently to provide regular comprehensive updates.

While the services we provide cover most disputes a client may face, we maintain a strong association with other experienced professionals such as barristers and accountants who provide representation and specialist advice when required.

(ii) Property Settlement

After the breakdown of a relationship the division of property will be of upmost importance to the financial future of both parties. Because of this it is prudent to seek legal advice before negotiating a property settlement with your partner.

At Cullen Macleod we can advise you on your likely entitlements and offer you a range of options to achieve settlement such as negotiation, mediation or court proceedings.

Where parties can reach an agreement, we can advise you of the most appropriate and cost efficient means of formalising matters to ensure security in the future.

If however, an agreement cannot be reached we have experienced lawyers who can represent you in the Family Court of Western Australia.

(iii) Spousal Maintenance

Parties to a marriage or a defacto relationship, including same sex couples, are entitled to seek ongoing financial support from each other.

The party who is seeking spousal maintenance must not be able to adequately support themselves and the other party must have a capacity to pay such maintenance.

At Cullen Macleod we can advise you about your claim for spousal maintenance or advise you in response to a claim.

(iv) Parenting & Child Welfare Matters

Cullen Macleod are experts in negotiating agreements between parties who are in dispute over their children. In our experience, being able to resolve child welfare matters through negotiation assists parties in preserving family relationships, which benefits the children.

If negotiations are successful, we can translate the agreement into a parenting plan or consent orders that can be filed in the Family Court of Western Australia.

Upon separation parents must consider a variety of arrangements for their children. These include:

  • where will the children live?
  • how will the children divide their time between parents (and possibly extended family such as grandparents)?
  • what will the parenting arrangements be?
  • who is going to pay for the school fees and extra curricular activities?
  • if the children live with one parent most of the time, when will they spend time or communicate with the other parent and other close family members?
  • will the parents make decisions affecting their children together or unilaterally?
  • who will care for the children after school?
  • who will children spend special days including; birthdays, Father's and Mother's Day, Christmas and Easter?
  • how will handover be conducted?
  • arrangements for things such as schooling, health care, sport, or religious matters, and
  • the parents cannot agree, who will consider the best interests of the children?

At Cullen Macleod we can assist you and your partner to reach an agreement swiftly and to protect the best interests of your children.

We are experienced in a variety of complex and diverse child welfare matters including child abduction matters.

If parents are unable to agree on the arrangement for their children proceedings in the Family Court of Western Australia may become necessary. At Cullen Macleod we can advise and represent you accordingly in these proceedings.

(v) Binding Financial Agreements

In a world where divorce is becoming more of a regular occurrence than marriage, clients are concerned about protecting their assets from any future claim by a new partner or spouse.

A binding financial agreement (commonly referred to as a 'pre-nuptial agreement'), can be made before, during or after a relationship. They can also be used by de facto, married and same sex couples.

When executed correctly, these agreements are binding and therefore prevent the financial matters contained in the agreement from being dealt with by the Family Court of Western Australia.

At Cullen Macleod we can provide you with legal advice in relation to the preparation and review of Binding Financial Agreements.

(vi) Child Support

Issues relating to child support can create difficulties for many people after the breakdown of their relationship.

In most cases, child support will be determined by the Child Support Agency (CSA) upon a party lodging an application.

People can choose to reach an agreement on the matter of child support privately. Such an agreement can give you greater flexibility in the amount of the payments, the frequency of the payments and whether payments are made directly towards expenses that benefit the child.

At Cullen Macleod we can advise you on your basic legal obligations and guide you on the amount you should be paying. We can also assist you with managing the process through the CSA, or assist in the drafting of a private child support agreement.

(vii) Advice in Relation to Surrogacy Agreements

Surrogacy is an agreement that a woman will carry a child during his or her gestation and upon his or her birth, give over all the indicia of parenthood to another person.

Entering into a surrogacy agreement can be a complex and stressful process. At Cullen Macleod we can provide you with prompt and clear advice to enable you to get on with 'making babies'.

(viii) Divorce

Divorce is the formal legal recognition by the Family Court of Western Australia that your marriage has ended.

Cullen Macleod can assist you in making or responding to applications for Divorce and ensure that all necessary steps in relation to the divorce are taken.

(ix) Adoption

Adoption is the legal process by which a child ceases to be the legal child of his or her birth parents and becomes instead the child of the adoptive parents as if born to them.

The consent of the mother or guardian of the child is required before an adoption order will be made.

At Cullen Macleod we can help you with the process of adoption.

(x) Guardianship & Administration Matters

The State Administrative Tribunal can make a Guardianship order in respect of a person of 18 years of age or more who is:

  • Incapable of looking after his or her own health and safety;
  • Unable to make reasonable judgments in respect of matters relating to his or her own person;
  • In need of oversight, care or control in the interests of his or her health and safety or for the protection of others; and
  • In need of a guardian.

There is no requirement that the person's incapacity has resulted from any disability.

Cullen Macleod can prepare the necessary applications for guardianship orders and represent you at the hearing.

We can also refer you to our specialist Wills and Estate Planning Team to ensure clients have current Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney if necessary.

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