1300 MFL LAW(1300 635 529)

To book your free 15 minute phone consultation

9.00am - 7.00pm weekdays

12.00pm - 3.00pm weekends.

Family Law Library

Search our articles to learn your rights

Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists has created many detailed articles answering the most common questions people have in relation to their rights and Australian Family Law.


Popular Articles

I have just separated from my partner with whom I have been living – What steps should I take?

If your former partner chooses to dispute the date you separated, you may be required to prove when the separation happened. You may be in a position where you live with your former partner temporarily while you make other arrangements. In this event, you will want proof of the date on which separation occurred. One way to prove you have separated from your partner is to have it confirmed in dated written format, ideally signed by both you and your former partner. If a written and dated document will be difficult to acquire, then a text message to your former partner can often suffice.

Proof of Separation

If a precise date of separation isn’t known because it was a gradual process that happened over some time, it may be required for the Family Court to determine when the separation occurred. In this circumstance, the Family Court will look at factors such as:

  • When did you and your former partner start sleeping in separate rooms?
  • Did either you or your former partner inform family and friends that you had separated?
  • When were you and your former partner’s financial affairs formally separated?
  • When were you and your former partner last intimate with each other?
  • When did you and your former partner stop carrying out domestic duties such as washing and cooking for each other?
  • When did you or your former partner lodge formal documents, such as ATO or Centrelink documents, on the basis that you were separated?

What are some of the first steps you can take following separation?

  • Setting up a bank account in your name may be a good first step to gaining financial independence. The date on which the new back account was created may also provide supporting evidence of when separation occurred.
  • Formalising your separation may include agreeing with your former partner to close any joint bank accounts you have together. Arrange for any scheduled transfers to now be facilitated via a personal bank account that only you can access.
  • Carry out a financial audit to identify and value all the assets, liabilities and superannuation – in your name, your former partner’s name or an entity controlled by you and / or your former partner.
  • Obtain a copy of your current superannuation member statement.
  • Consider if it is necessary to protect yourself against the risk of your former partner drawing down from your bank accounts or incurring credit card debt without your prior consent and instruct your bank as to any protective action you wish to have taken.

Take the next step, contact Mathews Family Law

The next step is to book a free 15-minute telephone consultation with an accredited family law specialist at Mathews Family Law and receive specific advice about your situation.

Book a free consultation online today.

I’m thinking of separating, what do I need to know?

Separation is never easy, especially when children are involved. There are always lots of issues that need to be addressed. You may need to organise new financial arrangements, possibly arrange new accommodation and transport. Then there is the difficult job of informing friends and family, which can affect your long-standing friendships. When children are involved a great deal of care needs to be taken to ensure their lives and wellbeing get impacted as little as possible.

Even if you are not married, separation can still be complicated and involve legal paperwork. When children, child support, maintenance and property are affected by separation, legal advice and formal documents of agreements reach is likely to be of assistance.

Disputes and Resolutions

Following separation, there may be disagreement about the management of parenting and financial issues. Family Dispute Resolution mediation, supported by your own legal advice, soon after separation may be of assistance and help to avoid disagreements becoming entrenched.

Family Violence

Family violence is a major reason for relationship breakdown. If you are experiencing family violence, please contact your local police who can provide immediate assistance and / or family violence support service who can support you to understand your situation and help you to formulate options for moving forward. Legal advice about parenting, child support, maintenance and property settlement issues may be of assistance at this time.

Talk with a Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialist

Just as no two experiences of relationship breakdown will be the same, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to the resolution of issues arising from the breakdown of a relationship – what works for one person may not necessarily be the right solution for you.

Mathews Family Law is one of the most experienced family law firms in Melbourne with the knowledge to guide you through the most challenging of experiences.

If you are contemplating separation or divorce, book in an obligation free 15-minute consultation with one of our accredited specialist family lawyers to understand your rights and options.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

MFL Radio Podcasts

Listen to some of our recent podcasts that discuss common issues in Australian Family Law.

Kuppy Nambiar discusses family law reviews

12 Mar

Vanessa Mathews discusses child support

7th May

Vanessa Mathews discusses the rights of grandparents

8th Oct

Kuppy Nambiar discusses de facto property settlements (Part 1)

23th Apr

Kuppy Nambiar discusses de facto property settlements (Part 2)

23th Apr

FINANCIAL LOSS DURING A RELATIONSHIP – CASE NOTE

In the recent Family Court case of Anaya & Anaya [2019] FCCA 1048, the principle in the long established case of Kowaliw and Kowaliw was re-affirmed that:

As a statement of general principle, I am firmly of the view that financial losses incurred by parties or either of them in the course of a marriage whether such losses result from a joint or several liability, should be shared by them (although not necessarily equally) except in the following circumstances:

  1. Where one of the parties has embarked upon a course of conduct designed to reduce or minimise the effective value or worth of matrimonial assets; or
  2. Where one of the parties has acted recklessly, negligently or wantonly with matrimonial assets, the overall effect of which has reduced or minimised their value.

In Anaya, the husband argued that investment funds (including an inheritance of $1,000,000) ‘lost’ by the wife should be ‘added back’ to the asset pool and treated as an advance on her property settlement. The wife argued that the losses were a matter to be taken into account generally and to have them ‘added back’ to the asset pool would likely result in hardship to her.

His Honour held that at the time the wife decided to enter into the high risk investment she was likely to have been depressed and angry at the husband about their separation but that her decision to do so was reckless and fell within the second category of Kowaliw. The wife’s awareness was exacerbated by the timing of her decisions – after Family Court proceedings had commenced and she had legal representation.

I often have clients ask me to seek redress for losses ‘caused’ by their former partner, for example, the reduced value of their share portfolio or investment in a now worthless time-share resort. For the majority, my answer is no, that these losses were incurred in the course of the marriage but for some however, the answer is ‘yes’, for example, money lost due to gambling.

It is important that each significant financial ‘win’ and ‘loss’ experienced during the marriage is objectively assessed in the context of its surrounding circumstances. An emotional assessment may be misguided and result in unrealistic expectations by the aggrieved client.

I am available to assist with this task – by offering an objective and realistic assessment of your client’s complex property settlements.

Please contact me on vanessam@mflaw.com.au or 9804 7991 if you would like to discuss your client’s situation.

Or have your client contact me to arrange a free initial 15 minute telephone consultation.

THE ROLE OF THE SINGLE EXPERT WITNESS IN CHILD CUSTODY MATTERS – CASE NOTE

The role of the Single Expert Witness / Family Report Writer was considered in a recent child custody decision by the Family Court of Western Australia (Worrall and Bartley [2018] FCWA 132).

In accordance with an earlier order that the interim parenting arrangements (child custody) for the nine year old child (who had been the subject of litigation for eight years) be reviewed after 12 months, the Single Expert Witness / Family Report Writer conducted his review and published a report.

The father sought that final parenting orders (child custody orders) be made in terms of the existing interim parenting orders or otherwise in accordance with the recommendations of the Single Expert Witness / Family Report Writer ‘on the papers’, that is, without cross examination of the parties and / or witnesses.

The mother objected on the grounds that:

  1. She did not consent to the making of final parenting orders as proposed by the father; and
  2. She did not accept the opinion evidence submitted by the Single Expert Witness / Family Report Writer and the child’s psychologist.

His Honour held that:

  1. It would be procedurally unfair to make final orders in reliance on the Single Expert Witness / Family Report Writer report without affording the mother the opportunity to challenge it in cross-examination;
  2. The simple acceptance of the recommendations of the Single Expert Witness / Family Report Writer, without affording the opportunity for cross-examination, might reasonably be perceived as an abrogation by the Court of its decision-making responsibility in favour of the Expert;
  3. A Single Expert Witness / Family Report Writer, no matter how experienced or qualified, is still simply that: a witness;
  4. The expertise of the Single Expert Witness / Family Report Writer renders his or her opinion evidence admissible, but the opinion remains subject to an assessment by the Court as to the weight to be given by it;
  5. While expert evidence is of great assistance to the Court and informs many of the decisions which must be made, the responsibility for making those decisions is the Court’s alone;
  6. A Court hearing will afford the Court the opportunity to ask questions directly of the Single Expert Witness / Family Report Writer and child’s psychologist, if appropriate.

For these reasons, His Honour declined to determine the matter ‘on the papers’ and the matter was listed for final hearing in the Family Court with cross-examination of the experts.

The Family Court child custody case upholds the principle of ‘procedural fairness’ and the importance of parties having the right to put all witnesses, including expert witnesses, ‘to the test’.

Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists is an award winning best family law firm in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs recognised for its expertise in complex Family Court child custody matters.

Please contact Vanessa Mathews on vanessam@mflaw.com.au or 9804 7991 to arrange a free 15 minute telephone consultation to discuss your child custody matter with one of the best family lawyers in Melbourne, accredited family law specialist, Vanessa Mathews, Kuppy Nambiar and Jeremy Hogg.