Maintaining family harmony for separated families

The Christmas / New Year season should be one of great joy and happiness for all Australian families.

However, unfortunately for many families, the festive season can raise disputes between separated couples that undermine the family’s enjoyment of the season.

Parenting disputes – before Christmas

The types of family law disputes we see in the lead up to Christmas each year include disputes about:

when the children will spend time with each parent;

whether the children are going on holidays with a parent;

money – such as whether child support or spousal maintenance is being paid, and is up to date;

what school a child will go to in the New Year; and

what kinds of extra-curricular activities the children will do in the New Year, and of course – who will pay for all these things.

Parents dealing with these kinds of disputes need to be aware that there is a Court deadline of 4pm on 10 November 2017 for filing Court Applications that deal with parenting arrangements for Christmas and the New Year period.

Parenting disputes – after Christmas

One of the most distressing and urgent issues that often arises amongst separated families over the Christmas/New Year break is the situation where a child is not returned to their usual residential parent after spending time with their non-resident parent.

This situation can arise because the non-resident parent has fears for the safety of a child returning to their usual residential parent, there is a dispute about the interpretation of the Orders, or there may even be no Orders – and as such – the parents involved have no legally enforceable agreement regarding when a child (or children) should be returned to the usual residential parent.

Fortunately, our Argent Law family lawyers Melbourne team is very experienced in dealing with this kind of disputes – including by resolving the disputes by negotiation, or bringing an urgent Court Application if necessary.

So, if over the Christmas/New Year period, you experience the stress and strain of a situation where:

You believe your child (or children) could be harmed by returning them to their usual residential parent: or

Your child (or children) have not been returned to your care after spending time with their non-resident parent (or some other person, such as grandparents).

Stephanie and Melissa will be available to be contacted for urgent legal advice and representation – even over the Christmas /New Year period when the Argent Law Office is shut down. Please email stephanie@argentlaw.com.au or melissa@argentlaw.com.au for urgent out of hour assistance.

Financial disputes

At this time of year, our family law clients may be struggling to make ends meet, or concerned that spousal maintenance or child support due to be paid to them has not been paid.

If you are struggling to make ends meet because of a Divorce or Separation, then it may be appropriate for you to negotiate with your former partner or spouse the payment of spousal maintenance – or you may be in a position to bring an urgent Application in the Court regarding spousal maintenance.

Alternatively, if you are not being paid the child support you are entitled to be paid for the care of minor children, you may require legal representation to assist you with getting paid, or otherwise making an Application to the Child Support Agency for them to bring enforcement proceedings against a non-paying parent.

The Argent Law Difference

If you require legal assistance to deal with any of the above issues – either before Christmas or over the Christmas/New Year break, our experienced family lawyers, Stephanie Hope and Melissa Patterson are experienced in dealing with all the above issues – including making urgent Applications in the Court where necessary.

At Argent Law, we are happy to consider payment-on-settlement arrangements for family law clients who do not immediately have available to them the funds they need to retain a lawyer. We pride ourselves in providing realistic, upfront information about expected legal fees; and we take a practical approach at all points in legal matters to ensure that our approach is as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

Finally, we understand that dealing with family breakdown over the Christmas and New Year period can be highly distressing. So if the prospect of having to deal with family law issues over the Christmas/New Year period has you feeling down and needing someone to talk to, urgent counselling is available free of charge from the following services:

Lifeline – phone 131114.

Beyond Blue – phone 1300 22 4636; and

Kids Helpline – phone 1800 55 1800.

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