Family Lawyers Perth
Get Expert Advice from our Family Lawyers in Perth
DS Family Law is a reputable and well-established family law firm with offices in Perth, Midland and Mandurah.
Practising exclusively in matters of family law, our family lawyers have years of experience in dealing with all issues arising from relationship breakdown, whether related to property settlement, parenting/child welfare or child support.
We are fully aware of just how traumatic the circumstances surrounding the separation process can be. Our team of expert family lawyers is highly qualified to assist you with understanding your rights during separation and help you move on with your life in challenging times.
If you are contemplating separation or, indeed, have separated already, we cannot over-emphasise the importance of being aware of your rights and entitlements under family law. In fact, any delay in obtaining proper advice may have adverse and far-reaching consequences.
On this page you can find everything you need to know about our family law firm, our family lawyers, our areas of expertise, the client appointment process, legal fees and more.
We would welcome the opportunity of providing you with comprehensive family law advice and sincerely hope that the information on this page helps you better understand the process of obtaining legal assistance from DS Family Law.
Our Point of Difference
DS Family Law is one of many family law firms in Perth, and the number of firms practising in the family law arena has mushroomed in the past few years.
Nowadays, family law consumers can take advantage of free 15-minute consultations, 20-minute telephone appointments, or even informal chats at a local coffee shop for a marginal fee.
At DS Family Law we do not engage in these cut-price initial “deals”, which we consider to be merely marketing gimmicks. We also don’t engage in “fixed fee arrangements” because we believe every case is different and requires a unique, tailored and pragmatic approach. Therefore, forecasting the outcome of all but the simplest of family law settlements with any degree of certainty is all but impossible.
Filling out a detailed questionnaire before your first appointment saves time for what’s really important.
A 15-minute, free consultation, however tempting, will almost never satisfy your need for informed, considered advice. It will not allow us sufficient time to get to know the relevant facts and circumstances of your case and consider those matters fully. Accordingly, it won’t result in the provision of meaningful advice.
At DS Family Law, prospective clients are required to complete a detailed questionnaire before the first consultation. That way, no valuable time is wasted on gathering basic information. If you then decide to come on board as a client, you will receive a thoroughly detailed letter of advice covering all aspects of your matter, including a range of likely outcomes.
Family Law Areas of Expertise
DS Family Law has a 15-year history of providing legal advice and assistance to (mostly) separating couples and helping them move on with their lives.
Generally speaking, people recognise the stock standard ‘divorce’ situation where couples go their separate ways after many years of building the family nest.
Therefore, property settlement and parenting issues are the family lawyer’s ‘bread and butter’, and probably consume a good 90% of all the time we spend on files.
But what about the other 10%? The remainder includes anything from pre-nuptial agreements to adoptions, child maintenance cases, even surrogacy issues and more.
Our team of family lawyers practises exclusively in matters of family law.
Family law has advanced leaps and bounds since the introduction of the Family Law Act 1975. Over the last 15 years, we have provided legal advice in countless disparate cases including same-sex marriage (or same-sex divorce!), superannuation splitting, surrogacy, the banning of corporal punishment, de-facto relationships and hair follicle drug-testing.
Even the definition of the words ‘family’ and ‘parent’ have undergone a massive transformation in the last half-century, culminating in the recent High Court decision in Masson v Parsons.
Situations considered unthinkable when the Act was introduced are now considered the ‘norm’, and the question is often asked – is the Family Court creating new norms or simply catching up with them?
Rest assured that DS Family Law remain abreast of the most recent developments in family law and if a pathway to resolution exists, we will help you find it regardless of how ‘unconventional’ your problem might be.
Regional Family Law Expertise
Through 15 years of practising exclusively in Family Law, DS Family Law has gathered a wealth of experience in many specific niche areas, largely through dealing extensively across numerous regional locations known for particular industries.
In addition to our current Perth, Midland and Mandurah offices, the firm has for lengthy periods operated practices in Darwin, Geraldton, Karratha, Kalgoorlie and Esperance. As a result, we are ‘across’ many of the intricacies involved in farming, mining and cray-fishing disputes and settlements.
This includes, for example, how to value a growing crop, the significance of the timing of such valuation and the importance of preserving the main, income-producing asset.
We are also acutely aware of the dangers of taking the value of cray-fishing enterprises straight from the balance sheet – cray boats are often ‘written down’ to minimal value but retain a market value of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Additionally, the mining industry usually involves different superannuation schemes and long, 12-hour shifts or ‘fly-in/fly-out’ rosters, making parenting arrangements much more complex.
Our expertise includes understanding and analysing complex valuations of income-producing assets.
In our Darwin office, which operated from 2009 to 2018, we particularly advised clients involved in the Northern Territory’s three largest industries: Government/Civil Service, the Military and Resources.
The valuation and splitting of Government/Military Superannuation Funds is something we still deal with routinely. Having worked intensely in those sectors provides us with a significant advantage over competitors who may be unfamiliar with the nuances of such industries.
Family Law in Perth and Western Australia
Family Law is, broadly speaking, applied uniformly throughout Australia, but there are important differences that can arise between WA and the rest of the States and Territories.
For example, despite years of promises from the State Government, it is still not possible for de facto couples separating in WA to ‘split’ their superannuation entitlements. This can be of great significance if superannuation is the principal asset of a long relationship.
Furthermore, Western Australia has its own State Act for ex-nuptial children – namely, the Family Court Act 1997. Whereas this broadly reflects the Family Law Act under which all other Australian children fall, there are differences.
And unlike the rest of Australia, de facto relationships in WA are defined as “a marriage-like relationship between two people for a minimum period of 2 years” – Section 13A Interpretation Act WA 1984.
‘De-facto’ in other States and Territories, however, requires a couple to “live together on a genuine domestic basis”. Even if the broad intention of the legislatures was the same, case law has demonstrated that these definitions can result in different outcomes, and parties can live together on a genuine domestic basis without necessarily living in ‘marriage-like’ relationships.
Family Law Beyond Perth and WA
In addition to servicing the wider Perth metro area, we have years of experience assisting regional or nationally-based clients resolve a myriad of parenting or property matters.
Although we can only advise on Australian law and procedure, we have helped countless Australians living overseas deal with the Family Court in Perth, including clients residing in the UK, Canada, US, South Africa, New Zealand and throughout Asia. These clients have benefited from our advice and expertise over many years, readily assisted by our willingness to embrace the new technology of the past decade or so that makes international communication so comparatively easy.
Although the majority of our clients do reside in the Perth metropolitan area (as well as in and around Midland and Mandurah, where we have conveniently located offices), we will willingly take on matters worldwide if required, so long as the legal connection to WA is clearly established.
Our Family Lawyers
At DS Family Law, all of our family lawyers have experience in the principal areas of family law – property settlement and parenting issues.
Our more junior lawyers work under the supervision of senior practitioners, some of whom have over 20 years of experience exclusively in the family law sphere.
The highly respected Doyle’s Guide has long recognised us as a leading WA family law firm.
Our Managing Director
If your matter involves a complex interim argument or trial, no-one in the Firm is better qualified to represent you than our Managing Director and In-House Counsel, Milos Supljeglav.
Milos’ resumé speaks for itself, and for the past 15 years or more Milos has personally conducted final hearings and appeals that most other family law firms would brief out to an Independent Barrister.
Having Milos’ input (and the benefit of his involvement) early in your matter provides you with a “checking mechanism” before you embark on what can be a lengthy and expensive journey through the Family Court.
As well as being an experienced litigator, Milos is also a long-standing accredited Mediator, Arbitrator and Dispute Resolution Practitioner. He is also one of a select band of Family Law Specialists as accredited by the Law Society of WA.
Our Track Record
People often ask us – do you win most of your cases?
If only it were possible to measure family law success in such simplistic terms. In many cases, success in family law is not defined by getting what you want, but what you can live with, in terms of the outcome being within a reasonable range of likely and/or expected outcomes.
In family law property matters, for instance, there is seldom a “right” or “wrong” outcome. In many cases, different Judicial Officers could reach different conclusions when presented with the same facts, without any of their decisions necessarily being “wrong”.
At DS Family Law our aim is to provide you with realistic advice about the most likely outcome, and ensure that you achieve a settlement that balances results against time, inconvenience, stress and above all, costs.
In child relocation cases, where an “all or nothing scenario” is much more common, our track record is particularly strong.
With property cases, our success lies in the minimal number of cases that proceed to a final hearing, i.e. we settle the vast majority of our matters by consent, before the Court is asked to decide the outcome.
We are a Quality Assured Family Law Practice
DS Family Law is a ‘Quality Assured Practice’ as certified by the Law Society of WA. This status recognises firms that have developed and adhere to prescribed internal processes dedicated to maximising client satisfaction and avoiding wastage.
To maintain this Quality Practice Standard we are subject to an annual audit to ensure our ongoing compliance with standards that go beyond the requirements of the relevant legislation. DS Family Law has been certified as a QPS practice since 2008.
Make an Appointment
Appointments can be made on a “face-to-face” basis at one of our offices or, alternatively, via telephone or Skype. You can also enquire about an appointment by filling out the Enquiry Form at the end of this page.
We understand that many clients do not live within an easy drive of Perth or an urban hub, or simply that juggling the demands of work and family can be onerous.
Generally, one of our experienced solicitors can accommodate an appointment – whether by telephone or in-person – within a day or so of your enquiry.
When you contact DS Family Law to enquire about making an appointment, one of the first things we do is a “conflict check” to make sure we have not given advice to other involved parties just a few weeks before!
These checks are by no means carried out to ‘pry’ on personal matters within the first few minutes – they are, simply, an essential part of the “safety net” process and an ethical requirement. The sooner any conflict is discovered and resolved the better (and more cost-effective) it is for clients.
Once you are booked in, you will be emailed a Client Interview Form to complete and return to us before your appointment. This form contains much of the basic data we’ll need in order to give you proper advice, which otherwise could take some time to obtain.
By “doing the homework” in advance, we can save valuable time in the information-gathering process, leaving us more scope to deal with the important issues in and actual merits of your case.
If your case involves a financial settlement we will also ask you for a basic Asset & Liability Schedule.
Again, this pre-meeting work undertaken by you frees up more time for us to get to the heart of your matter during your appointment.
Your appointed solicitor will have familiarised themselves with your Client Interview Form before you arrive for your appointment. You will not be charged for our time in perusing your Client Interview Form prior to the consultation.
Your First Appointment
For the most part, initial appointments will last around an hour, give or take.
It is difficult to adequately address the majority of issues in anything less, factoring in fact-checking, delving into the substance of the case, exploring important issues you may not have considered and giving measured initial advice.
Obviously, the more detailed information you provide to us beforehand the more likely we can provide you with “concrete” and sustainable advice.
Your family lawyer will be familiar with the details in your Client Interview Form at your first appointment.
As we’ve mentioned already, we don’t think this entire process can realistically happen in 15 minutes.
In our experience a short, free consultation is highly unlikely to leave you feeling either satisfied that you’ve had time to explain all the relevant background, or confident that the solicitor sufficiently understands your case.
So again, beware any “free” or minimal cost, short initial appointments. You will likely be asked for lots of basic information (which you could have made available in advance) and will be provided little in the way of substantive answers and advice.
At the end of your consultation there will be no pressure to take things further. In some cases, we simply provide sufficient reassurance to allow parties to negotiate a reasonable outcome between themselves.
If, however, you need to take things to the next stage with us, then – at your request – you will be sent:
- A letter of Client Engagement
- A standard Costs Agreement
- A request for an initial deposit into our trust account to cover anticipated initial fees and disbursements
All initial appointments at DS Family Law must be paid for either in advance or on the day of the consultation if you are coming into the office.
Let’s be frank – lawyers are expensive. Regardless of who you engage, you will likely be paying somewhere between $400 to $500 per hour in legal fees for good, comprehensive advice. Therefore, you need to be as certain as you can be that your lawyer has the knowledge, experience and ability to deliver results, but also to pull you into line if your expectations are “way off beam”.
Simply telling you what you want to hear is in neither your nor our long-term best interests.
Become a Client
When you become a client at DS Family Law we will, first of all, assess the level of urgency in your matter.
This is so we can arrange for the necessary legal and administrative resources to be allocated to your case. It will also determine how much you may have to deposit in our trust account for the requisite work to be undertaken.
Some matters may require “low-level” negotiations without specific time-frames. Other cases may need urgent and/or immediate Court intervention, where you will have to make yourself available at short notice and, possibly, for lengthy periods in assisting us to draft the necessary documents.
Assessing urgency will also enable us to plan for communicating with essential witnesses, and checking their availability to provide us with relevant information.
In all cases, we will provide you with a detailed Letter of Initial Advice, setting out in writing the known facts of your case as per your verbal instructions, the applicable law, and our initial advice.
Very occasionally we may have to draft, file and serve your responding Court documents before we can put our initial advice in writing, in order to comply with Court deadlines. But this is very much the exception and not the rule.
We encourage settling early for minimum inconvenience, stress and cost.
In property and financial cases, we’ll always try to give you a realistic estimate of the likely outcome based on the known facts and circumstances at an early stage, if possible.
In parenting proceedings, we will provide you with our views on shared parental responsibility, the likely time children will spend with each parent and on specific issues such as parentage testing, issuing passports, supervision, placing children on the airport watch-list, etc.
Our written advice may change as new facts, updated valuations, new circumstances emerge – but we will never shirk from placing our views in writing and be prepared to stand by them throughout your matter.
Our initial response will depend on where matters are at:
- Have you just separated and simply need basic advice?
- Do you require a letter to be sent to your “ex” setting out your position and asking for information?
- Is the matter already in Court?
- Has the case been advanced (or not advanced) by your previous solicitor in a way which caused you concern?
- Have things turned nasty, or are you and your “ex” still on good terms and looking to resolve your matter by an Application for Consent Orders?
All of these issues will dictate our proposed approach in the initial stages of your matter.
Rest assured that where proceedings have not commenced, we will always encourage you to settle your matter by negotiation and consent, if possible. From a cost, stress and inconvenience perspective, this is by far the most appealing means of resolution.
If proceedings have already commenced, we will look to explore every available avenue to achieve a settlement you can “live with”, without the delay, stress and cost of a Family Court Trial.
You need to be aware that the time from the date of filing your Court documents until the day you receive Judgment after Trial can take up to two years – and that is a long time for your life to be “on hold”.
DS Family Law has always encouraged early settlement to help you move on with your life. The Firm is always busy, and we like to think this is because we have cultivated a settlement culture where cases are not dragged through the Court system for years. Sometimes, of course, that is unavoidable, but it is certainly not our practising norm.
During the engagement process you will receive copies of all documents, emails and correspondence relating to your matter and prompt, detailed Court reports following any Court events.
Our written communication with you will be such that you should be able to “re-create” your own case file on your home system, and our Solicitors are always available at reasonably short notice to discuss your matter by telephone and answer the many queries which are bound to arise throughout the process.
Let’s meet, and figure it out
For practical advice about what you should do next, please call to arrange a no-obligation initial consultation.