Frequently Asked Family Law Questions

When can I apply for a divorce?

The only ground for divorce is an irretrievable breakdown of marriage. This requires living separately and apart for 12 months. You can only file an application for divorce after the 12 month period has expired.

For more information about divorce, click here.

What if we still live in the same house?

It is possible for you to live separately “under the one roof”. However, you must have independent evidence of the breakdown of your relationship.

What if we never actually got married?

Generally, if you co-habit for a period of 2 years or more, or have children together, you have legal “de-facto couple” status. This means that you may apply to the Family Court for property settlement as if you were married.

When should I start proceedings for a property settlement?

You must initiate proceedings for property settlement (at the latest) within 12 months of your divorce order being granted, or within 2 years after the date of separation for a de facto relationship. Otherwise, you will need to apply to the Family Court for leave to file an application.

What if we have already made our own agreement?

If you and your spouse make an agreement that the Court does not ratify, it is not enforceable and could easily be overturned by the Family Court.  Usually, such agreement would be documented via a Application for Consent Orders or in certain circumstances, a Financial Agreement.

What if we delay in dealing with child residence or contact issues? (Now referred to as "lives with" and "spending time with" arrangements).

A delay can be devastating, especially where a “status quo” develops. The Court may be reluctant to let you change existing arrangements unless you can prove there is a compelling benefit for the children or other parties involved. Prompt action on separation is essential to avoid this.

For more information about parenting arrangements, click here.

How will our property be divided?

The Family Court decides how to divide your property. There is no automatic presumption of an equal division of property. The Court will consider the extent of the asset pool to be distributed; the financial and non-financial contributions of both parties; and their respective future financial needs.

For further information regarding the property settlement process, click here.

Is a Child Support Assessment final?

No, an administrative assessment of child support is not final. If you or your former spouse’s circumstances change, you should notify the Child Support Agency immediately.

For more information about child support, click here.

What about the super?

Superannuation is now regarded as property which can be divided when a marriage breaks down. However, this does not yet apply to de-facto relationships in Western Australia. You should ask for legal, taxation and financial planning advice before proceeding with a superannuation splitting order.

Are Binding Financial ("Pre-nuptial", "Co-habitation" and/or "Separation") Agreements valid?

Yes, they are legally valid and enforceable if they meet certain strict legislative requirements. However, this applies only to such Agreements made after December 2000.

For more information about Financial Agreements, click here.

Why choose DS Family Law?

You will receive top level advice from experienced Family Lawyers at a long-established Family Law Practice – at competitive rates.

And with additional offices in Midland and Mandurah, there are various options for face-to-face meetings without having to endure the city “rush”. That said, our Perth office is centrally located, close to bus and rail services, with plenty of on-street parking.

For more information about DS Family Law, click here.

How do I know DS Family Law will be able to assist me with my family law matter?

DS Family Law practises exclusively in all areas of family law and will provide you with reliable, considered advice on all issues arising from relationship breakdown including property settlement, parenting arrangements, child support and more. We also advise on de facto relationships, same-sex relationships and “pre-nuptial” agreements.

Do you offer free initial consultations?

No – we don’t engage in initial “deals” or fixed-fee arrangements. Every case is different and requires a tailored, unique perspective and approach. We believe in a professional “value-based” approach, not gimmicks. Many of our clients complain about “free 15 minute consultations” they have had with other lawyers and how dissatisfied they were with them.

Please see Our Point of Difference for more details.

How can I make an appointment?

You can call one of our offices, fill out and email our enquiry form or visit to make an appointment in person. At DS Family Law, we embrace all forms of technology and you can even do an initial consultation with one of our Family Lawyers via skype.

For more information on what to expect from your first appointment with us, click here.