Family Law


Our Family Law services 

Separation can be an ordeal for families and partners. Either prior to or at the time of separation you may need to quickly decide on practical issues, such as the welfare of your children or the division of your assets.

It is important that you seek independent legal advice before you separate or as soon as possible after separating.

Suzy Graham has spent 20 years assisting clients with family law matters ranging from straightforward ‘out of court’ settlements to complex disputes regarding children and property.


Suzy Graham has over twenty years experience in Family Law

Court proceedings

Not all Family Court or Federal Circuit Court proceedings are simple and straight forward. Disputes over parenting or property matters can be quite complex and/or intimidating, particularly if you have not previously been involved in court proceedings or had to deal with the breakdown of a relationship.

Suzy Graham and her team can prepare the necessary documents on your behalf and represent you along the way. Suzy prides herself on clear communication and being upfront and realistic about likely outcomes.

Court proceedings should be considered a ‘last resort’ and we will always work with you to avoid court proceedings, if at all possible.


When applying for a divorce, the Court does not take account of the causes of marriage breakdown. It simply requires that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

If you are married and you have been separated for at least twelve months, you can apply to the Court for a divorce.

If you have been married for a period of less than two years, you will normally require a counselling certificate before applying to the Court for a divorce.

If you have children, the Court has to be satisfied that you have made proper arrangements for your children’s welfare, before granting a divorce.

Divorce marks the legal end of your marriage. However, your divorce will not settle the parenting of your children, child support, and the division of the property of your marriage.

Where no agreement can be reached between you and your former spouse, these require separate proceedings.

You can apply to the Court for orders for property settlement and this may be done at any time. However, the Family Law Act sets a time restriction of 12 months after your divorce for you to apply for a property settlement.

If you and your former partner are able to agree on how to divide your assets, you can ask the Court to make orders by consent.

Whether you agree or not, the rules governing the division of assets and financial resources are complex, and you should seek legal advice from us, before making a final decision about how they will be divided.

Parenting disputes

After separation both parents continue to have joint responsibility for making decisions about the care, welfare and development of their children.

Many separating parents wish to distinguish their rights and responsibilities for children and negotiate orders to stipulate care arrangements for children. There are three main types of Parenting Orders:

  • ‘Lives with’ Orders – orders that specify the parent with whom the child lives.
  • ‘Spends time with’ Orders – orders that specify the parent with whom the child will spend time and when.
  • Other matters – orders dealing with any other aspect of parental responsibility generally relating to the special needs of a child or children for example, regarding religion, schooling, relocation and the like.

Most Parenting Orders are negotiated directly between parents or with the assistance of Family Dispute Resolution practitioners or counsellors, or with the assistance of lawyers.

If there is any dispute about appropriate arrangements for children, then an application can be made to a court to determine appropriate orders and the court makes its decision based on a number of factors, but the paramount consideration is the welfare of the children.

Parenting Orders may be applied for by any person concerned with the care, welfare and development of children. This is normally the parents, but also may include other people – for example, grandparents, step-parents and other persons that have significant involvement with the children.

We can assist you by advising about appropriate Parenting Orders, negotiating Parenting Orders, drawing appropriate documents, acting in court proceedings or assisting in Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) mediations.

Property settlement

After separation it may be important to divide property (“property settlement”). It is important to obtain advice about property issues as soon as possible after separation (or even prior to separation, if possible) to ensure that your rights are protected and to give you the advice and information you need to achieve a fair and reasonable property settlement.

Delay in obtaining advice can sometimes result in assets being dealt with or possibly disappearing before you have had an opportunity to receive your entitlement.

Property settlements as between married partners and domestic partners (including same-sex relationships) are determined pursuant to the principles in the Family Law Act 1975 and any disputes can be referred to a court.

Property includes all assets and financial resources owned either jointly or individually and includes (but is not limited to) real estate, motor vehicles, furniture, bank accounts, businesses, shares, collections of precious items, investments, interests in companies, inheritances, assets held with third parties and superannuation.

A property settlement should be addressed as soon as possible after separation – you do not need to wait until you are divorced.

The property settlement process

The first step in the property settlement process is to identify and value the asset pool. It may be necessary to obtain valuations (e.g. from real estate agents, accountants or other valuers) if there is any dispute as to the values of any items in the pool of assets.

There are two main factors for determining property entitlements:

Contributions – This includes both financial and non-financial contributions made by either party and also an assessment of any separate or special contributions made by either or both parties. Non-financial contributions may include contributions as homemaker, stay-at-home parent or caring for a child with special needs. Separate or special consideration may include lump sums made by (or on behalf of) either party eg redundancies, payments of compensation, lotto winnings, inheritances, significant gifts etc.

Future needs – This includes (but is not limited to) factors such as who will be responsible for any children under 18 post-separation, the special needs of any child or party, the income and future employment capacity of each party, age and health and availability of other financial resources.

It is essential in any negotiations for property settlement, that each party provides full disclosure as to their assets, contributions and needs so that a fair adjustment can be reached.

Most property settlements are achieved through negotiation with the assistance of lawyers.

It is important to formalise property agreements through appropriate documents so as to prevent further claims in the future. These documents include court Consent Orders, Binding Financial Agreements and Superannuation Agreements.


Between separating couples superannuation can also be dealt with as part of the property settlement process.

One option in dealing with superannuation is a “splitting order” which divides one partner’s superannuation entitlement with the other partner.

The rules and laws relating to Superannuation are complex and constantly changing.

If you require further information about the Superannuation entitlements of you and/or your former spouse we would be pleased to provide you with further information upon request.

Spencer Gulf Law
Unit 1/7 Church Street, Port Augusta, South Australia, 5700
(08) 8641 0666

Po Box 1845 Port Augusta SA 5700


Get In Touch

Spencer Gulf Law
Unit 1/7 Church Street, Port Augusta, South Australia, 5700
(08) 8641 0666

Po Box 1845 Port Augusta SA 5700


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