Family Law

Divorce, property, support, de-facto relationships, children, adoptions Lawyers Sydney

When family and de-facto relationships break down you need effective representation to protect your financial interests and the rights of your children. 

Gillian Wright is a highly experienced family lawyer and an Accredited Specialist in Family Law, as certified by the Law Society of New South Wales.

At the first conference, we find out what you want. We outline your options. We provide an estimate of legal costs.  We keep you informed as your case progresses.
Most people prefer a reasonable settlement to a knock down battle in Court. Our family lawyers are tough and skilled negotiators. We also use mediation and collaborative law.
If you need to use the Court to resolve your dispute, Gillian Wright, our senior family lawyer has more than 20 years experience as a litigator and is certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Specialist in Family Law.
We also know that the breakdown of a relationship can have a major emotional impact. We treat you with respect and empathy.
Family law services
Our experience includes the following:
  • pre-nuptial and binding financial agreements, cohabitation and separation agreements
  • divorce and nullity proceedings
  • children’s issues: parental responsibility; access; protection and welfare/abuse/abduction issues; child maintenance and support; Children’s Court matters
  • adoption, paternity/parentage issues
  • spousal maintenance
  • property orders including use and occupation of home, division of business assets etc
  • superannuation and tax issues
  • bankruptcy issues in family law
  • urgent orders including preserving assets of the relationship, restraining flight from jurisdiction
  • family trusts, unit trusts, and Corporations Act issues
  • claims arising from contributions and agreements
  • de facto relationships
  • domestic violence issues
  • wills and succession issues
  • same sex relationships
  • IVF/Donor Insemination issues
  • surrogacy.

PLEASE NOTE:  This firm does not provide any assistance, including referrals to agencies, in arranging surrogacy or adoptions.  This firm is able to provide legal advice in relation to these matters only.

Further information

Contact Craddock Murray Neumann Lawyers on (02) 8268 4000 for friendly professional service.

Family Law - Costs and offers to settle in property proceedings
Date: Oct 02, 2015

The general rule in family law matters is that each party bears their own costs of the proceedings. However, the Court has discretion to depart from the general rule and make any other order with respect to costs it considers “just”.

Property settlement after a short marriage
Date: Oct 01, 2015

As we know, couples can separate at any stage of their marriage. Some marriages last only a few years or even months. How will family law principles regarding property settlement apply to such marriages? Will short marriages be any different from longer marriages?

Sole occupation of the family home after separation
Date: Sep 01, 2015

It is not uncommon in family law disputes for one party to seek that he/she remain living in the family home, to the exclusion of the other party, while the parties negotiate property settlement.

Dissipation of joint assets post-separation
Date: Jul 20, 2015

Often our clients report to us that, following separation, their ex-partner or spouse has spent some, or all, of joint funds, before property settlement has been finalised, or that the other party has disposed of an asset that existed before separation and has used the proceeds for his/her sole benefit.

Trusts and family law disputes
Date: Jul 06, 2015

Many family law disputes involve issues relating to various trusts. Family lawyers are often approached by clients who are either trustees and/or beneficiaries of a trust. Often their children and other family members are beneficiaries as well.

Can a family law dispute affect your company?
Date: Jun 17, 2015

Often family lawyers have to provide advice to their clients with respect to property disputes involving a business, whether a family company or a company owned with fellow shareholders. Such a dispute may have an impact not only on the interests of the client, but on the interests of third parties as well.

Penniless partner: bankruptcy and family law property disputes
Date: Jun 08, 2015

In certain circumstances in the past, a situation could arise where a spouse facing family law property proceedings would file for bankruptcy or be declared bankrupt (the Bankrupt), with the result of becoming a “penniless partner” of a non-bankrupt spouse (the Spouse), whose claim might then be defeated in the Family Court property settlement proceedings. The only salvation for the Spouse was to apply to the Federal Court for annulment of bankruptcy on the grounds of some abuse of process.

Costs orders - who pays the costs of legal proceedings?
Date: Aug 25, 2014

The Court has power under Section 98 of the Civil Procedure Act 2005 to determine by whom, to whom and to what extent the costs of the proceedings are to be paid.

Caveats, interests in property and contracts – does my contract give me a caveatable interest?
Date: Aug 18, 2014

Section 74F of the Real Property Act 1900 (NSW) permits a person who claims to be entitled to a “legal or equitable estate or interest in land” to lodge with the Registrar-General a caveat, prohibiting the recording of any dealing affecting the estate or interest to which the person claims to be entitled.

Property Consent Orders
Date: Aug 06, 2014

There is an obligation on Family Court judges to be satisfied that any property orders they make are just and equitable, notwithstanding they are made by consent.

Child Recovery Orders
Date: Jul 22, 2014

When one parent refuses to return a child to the other, an urgent application to ‘recover’ the child can be made to the Family Court.

What happens if your ex-partner disappears to another country with your children?
Date: Jul 14, 2014

If your ex-partner goes on an international holiday with your children and decides not to return, or leaves without your knowledge, you may find yourself having to make a ‘Hague Convention Application’ to obtain orders for your children to come back to Australia.

Are marriages involving a transgender person valid?
Date: May 01, 2014

The current Australian position in relation to marriage is that it must be a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) (the Act), but how does the law treat marriages that involve a transgender person? Are the marriages valid? It’s an important question to ask and one that is worth exploring.

What are the necessary legal requirements to establish separation?
Date: Mar 05, 2014

For any parties to a marriage who have made the decision to undergo separation, there are a number of conditions that must be met in order to establish legal separation – namely, the intention to separate, acting on that intention, and unequivocal communication of the intention to separate.

Children and post separation arrangements: How does the law operate?
Date: Aug 08, 2013

When a relationship has come to an end and there are children involved, there are a number of issues that parents must deal with, and one of the primary matters that must be addressed, is post separation parenting arrangements. There is no hard and fast rule in how arrangements should be organised, and the overriding consideration is always what arrangements will best suit the child in the particular familial circumstance.

Date: Jul 03, 2013

Section 58(2) of the Succession Act 2006 requires an application for a Family Provision Order to be made not later than 12 months from the date of death of the deceased person unless the court otherwise orders “on sufficient cause being shown”.

Separation: Signs that a marriage has come to an end
Date: Jun 12, 2013

One of the signs that a marriage has come to an end, is if the parties to the marriage have engaged in the process of separation. Although the term may imply that both parties have agreed to undertake the action of separation, there is however no requirement that the decision to separate must be mutual, as outlined in s 49(1) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (the Act).

What is the effect of marriage on a will?
Date: Mar 13, 2013

There are a number of times in your life when you should review your will to make sure that it will give effect to your intentions in relation to your property and estate.

When can a parenting order be varied or terminated?
Date: Mar 05, 2013

The court has the ability to make a parenting order, and alternatively, they are also bestowed the power to alter or terminate such orders under the provisions of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)(the Act). An order to discharge, vary, suspend or revive some, or all of an earlier parenting order, is itself, a parenting order under ss64B(1)(b), 65D.

Date: Mar 01, 2013

A person convicted of a crime is not generally prohibited from benefitting under a will. However under the Forfeiture Rule, a murderer cannot benefit under the will or intestacy of the victim nor will the murderer be granted letters of administration.

Can a Minor Make a Will or Revoke a Will?
Date: Feb 28, 2013

A minor is the legal description of a person under the age of 18 years. As a general rule a minor cannot make a will.

Can child support still be collected when the other party is overseas?
Date: Jan 06, 2013

In a world where international connectivity and travel has never been easier – or cheaper – the ability for people to move trans-nationally can be as simple as a mouse click away. However, the flipside with the ease in which people are able to traverse across nations can lead to a situation where one party who is subject to a maintenance order or child support, is overseas, which may then cause potential difficulties for anyone who is supposed to receive maintenance.

LITIGATION - Frequently Asked Questions
Date: Dec 04, 2012

Deciding how to settle a dispute - Choosing a process - Commencing litigation - Pre-trial procedures - Discontinuance or withdrawal - Enforcement of judgments - Costs of Litigation - Time limits - Lawyers

If one party to a marriage becomes bankrupt: What happens to the property interests?
Date: Dec 01, 2012

When bankruptcy and family law collide, the results are how shall we say it? Difficult. Under s 58 of the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth), once a person becomes bankrupt, that person’s divisible property vests in the trustee. However, under s 116 of the Bankruptcy Act, certain property such as superannuation, tools of the trade, some furniture, and transport can be exempt, but the fact still remains, that the interaction between bankruptcy and family law is extremely complicated.

Can a child, rather than a parent, consent to medical treatment?
Date: Mar 02, 2012

As parents we obviously want what is best for our children and we strive to protect them from harm, therefore, it’s not a surprise that parents go to great lengths to ensure the safety of our children. As parents we try to minimise the risks of which our children will be exposed to, and in some instances, our need to look after our children will extend to matters involving health and medical treatment.

How does the family dispute resolution process operate?
Date: Feb 03, 2012

Some of us upon hearing the terms, ‘divorce’, ‘property’, ‘financial’ and ‘dispute’, will probably conjure up images of emotion charged court proceedings where one party is left desolate, while the other takes off with all of the matrimonial property and assets. However, the truth is rather more benign and most divorces don’t actually end up in court, and the parties more often than not, will reach some sort of agreement. Furthermore, the law encourages that parties whose union has come to an end, engage in the mediation and conciliation process – and in most instances, it is mandatory to do so.

Stamp Duty Exemption on a Property Transfer
Date: Jan 26, 2012

Parties may also be entitled to a stamp duty exemption if the Court makes Orders requiring a transfer of property.

Binding financial agreements: How an agreement is created, varied or set aside
Date: Jan 03, 2012

It’s not unusual to hear of the rich and famous before a marriage, enter into a prenuptial agreement with their spouse. If a person has substantial assets to protect, it’s probably not a bad idea to have a prenuptial agreement in place in the event of a relationship breakdown. In Australia, prenuptial agreements are more commonly referred to as binding financial agreements, and a valid agreement can oust the jurisdiction of the courts.

How the Family Law Court establishes a contravention of a parenting order
Date: Dec 01, 2011

If a person contravenes an order by acting illegally or by breaching the order intentionally, or the person has made no reasonable attempt to comply with the order, they can then be found to be in contravention of the order, and in such a circumstance the order can be varied or they can make a contravention application.

Family law and spousal maintenance
Date: Nov 02, 2011

Relationships that have come to an end, whether the parties were part of a marriage or a de facto coupling, are always difficult. Additionally if there are further issues relating to finance, the situation can be even more fraught – especially if one of the parties is in a weaker economic position. The Family Law Act (the Act) allows a party to a marriage or de facto relationship, to financially maintain the other party to the extent that they are reasonably able to do so, if one of the parties cannot support him or herself adequately. The courts then can decide to issue a maintenance order however, the Act mandates that certain requirements must be met before an order can be issued.

Inheritances and Gifts in Family Law, how are they treated?
Date: Nov 01, 2011

Consider this example: John and Jill have been married for 10 years and have recently separated. Around 2 years ago Jill’s father died and Jill received an inheritance of $100,000. These monies were deposited into a joint bank account and have been used by the parties to assist in the purchase of a property. Now that the relationship has broken down what becomes of Jill’s inheritance?

Family Dispute Resolution
Date: Oct 11, 2011

If you are in dispute with your partner regarding the care arrangements for your child you are required, by law to engage in what is called Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Do I need a pre-nup?
Date: Oct 06, 2011

In Australia couples who are considering living together, as a de facto couple (whether same sex or heterosexual) or are considering marriage have the option of entering into an agreement to protect their assets in the event they separate. This agreement can protect not only assets in existence now, but also assets the parties purchase throughout the relationship.

What is Family Counselling and Family Dispute Resolution?
Date: Oct 05, 2011

If you are involved in a separation or divorce then you may have heard the terms “family counselling" or “family dispute resolution practitioner”.

Domestic Violence in the context of Family Law
Date: Sep 05, 2011

Unfortunately in Australia many men and women are subjected to violent behaviour from their spouse or their de facto partner. Often victims are reluctant to come forward and report instances of domestic violence for fear of further violence from their spouse or for fear of criticism or judgement from the wider community. In recent times the family Court has obtained a deeper understanding of the types of violence and impact that domestic violence can have.

Financial contributions: My Spouse made more money than me; does that mean I won’t get anything in a property settlement?
Date: Sep 05, 2011

Often, especially in long relationship, one party is the traditional ‘breadwinner’ while the other stays home to care for children, or to maintain the home. The primary homemaker may only work part-time, or may not work at all. So what does this mean if the couple separate? What does each party get?

What is Family Counselling and Family Dispute Resolution?
Date: Sep 05, 2011

Family counselling is a process where a family counsellor helps people affected by separation and divorce to deal with personal and interpersonal issues in relation to the relationship or issues in relation to the care of children from the relationship.

Inheritances: What happens when a relationship breaks down?
Date: Aug 02, 2011

When couples separate, they typically need to sort out how to divide their property. This includes both assets and debts. There are a number of ways this can be done. Parties can agree on how to divide their property without any court involvement. These kinds of agreements can be formalised by the court by applying for a consent order, but they do not have to be. Where parties cannot agree on their own, it is possible to apply to the court for a financial order. Financial orders can relate to the division of property and the payment of spousal maintenance.

Basic Questions Relating to Parenting Orders
Date: Jul 05, 2011

Parenting orders are enforceable arrangements that deal with the welfare of a child. Orders can be made by the courts, however, the desirable outcome is for the parties to reach an agreement without the intervention of the legal system. If the separating parties are unable to resolve their issues, the courts will intervene.

Sharing Time in Relocation Cases
Date: Jun 06, 2011

When the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) was amended in 2006, it introduced the concepts of “equal shared parental responsibility”, “equal time” and “substantial and significant time”. Until the High Court of Australia decision in MRR v GR, [2010] HCA 4, the relationship between these concepts was unclear in relocation cases.

New Surrogacy Act 2010 commences: 1 March 2011
Date: Apr 01, 2011

As of 1 March 2011, it is an offence in NSW to enter into commercial surrogacy arrangements. The Surrogacy Act 2010 came into effect on the 1st March this year, making it illegal to begin commercial surrogacy arrangements after that date, however, regulations to be made under the Act do make provision for those who entered written agreements before that commencement date.

Financial Settlements – How is the Split Determined
Date: Mar 29, 2011

Financial settlements in both marriage and de facto relationship cases have been dealt with on the same basis since March 2009.

How does a judge assess credibility
Date: Mar 28, 2011

A small minority of family law cases require a decision from the Court, whether it involves parenting or financial issues. Where there is a different version of facts given by each party, one of the tasks of the Judge hearing the case is to make findings of fact. In other words, which version of events does the Judge believe to be the correct version.

Property Settlements and bankruptcy
Date: Mar 02, 2011

If you are involved in family law property proceedings and the other party to the marriage or de facto relationship goes bankrupt it will affect the way in which the Family Court is able to deal with the proceedings.

Grandparent rights under the Family Law Act
Date: Feb 03, 2011

In 2006 a grandparents right to contact with their grandchildren was finally recognised in the Family Law Act. Before this the word “grandparent” was not mentioned in the Act in relation to any rights to maintain a relationship with their grandchildren on the breakdown of a marriage.

Spousal Maintenance
Date: Nov 02, 2010

Spousal maintenance is the responsibility of one party to a marriage to financially support the other person after separation or divorce.

Can I use an injunction to stop my ex partner taking the children out of the state
Date: Oct 07, 2010

If you have reason to believe this will occur you should send a copy of the injunction order to the Federal Police and ask that your child's name be placed on the Airport watch list.

The Nuts and Bolts of Pre Nuptial Agreements
Date: Sep 02, 2010

In Australia it is possible to make Pre-Nuptial Agreements under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) ("the Family Law Act").

Changes to De Facto Relationship Law : A Move Towards Equal Treatment
Date: Aug 29, 2010

A Paper presented by Craddock Murray Neumann on the Changes to De Facto Relationship Law.

Parenting & Financial Matters in De Facto Relationships
Date: Aug 29, 2010

For many years de facto couples who separated with children faced having to use two different legal systems. Problems about their children were dealt with in the Family Law system, under Commonwealth law, while disputes about financial matters were resolved in State courts. In addition, the entitlements in financial cases were less generous for a financially disadvantaged party than in marriage cases, and superannuation benefits could not be divided.

All Relationships Under the one law
Date: Aug 22, 2010

Historically, the Commonwealth made laws dealing with marriage relationships, whereas the various States and Territories had the power to make laws dealing with matters arising out of the breakdown of de facto relationships, including parenting and financial issues.

Binding Financial Agreements – Handle With Caution
Date: Aug 22, 2010

Under the Family Law Act, parties to a marriage or de facto relationship may enter into a financial agreement to make provision for their financial arrangements during the course of their relationship, and for financial settlement upon the breakdown of their relationship.

Christmas Arrangements For the Children
Date: Aug 22, 2010

December is not busy just in department stores, it is a hectic time in the Family Law courts. For judges, Federal Magistrates and lawyers, December is the month where much time is spent working out where children will spend their Christmas when their parents cannot work it out. The number of cases with this issue outstanding before the Courts is so high, that the courts usually require Christmas cases to be filed no later than mid November.

De Facto Relationship Legislation
Date: Aug 22, 2010

In 2008 legislation was passed to amend the Family Law Act 1975 to allow de facto couples (opposite sex and same sex) to access the federal family law courts for property and maintenance matters.

Divorce or Annulment
Date: Aug 22, 2010

Some clients will say to their Family Lawyer, “I don’t want a divorce, I want my marriage annulled”. Usually this has to do with a religious belief. The law does allow for a court to declare a marriage a nullity, although such applications are not common. This is because the grounds to annul a marriage are quite limited.

Evidence of Minors in a Family Law Matter
Date: Aug 22, 2010

In the 2008 case of Beckett & Horan the issue of permitting a witness under 18 years of age to give evidence in family law proceedings was raised. The proceedings in question concerned both parties seeking parenting orders. An application was made by the mother for a non-relative aged 17 years of age to give evidence. Counsel for the father objected.

Financial Settlements – How is the Split Determined
Date: Aug 22, 2010

The purpose of a financial settlement is to bring to an end the financial relationship between the parties, by dividing and allocating their net assets, so that nothing is left in joint names.

Financial Support: Spouse/De Facto maintenance
Date: Aug 22, 2010

Married couples, and now de facto couples, have a legal obligation under the Family Law Act to provide financial support to one another. If that financial support is not forthcoming, then either party to a marriage or de facto relationship is entitled to apply to a Court for orders that the other party pay maintenance to them.

Intercountry Adoption Agreement between States and Commonwealth
Date: Aug 22, 2010

A n agreement between the Commonwealth and States and Territories to administer and improve intercountry adoption in Australia exists.

New Child Support Scheme
Date: Aug 22, 2010

The new child support formula is part of the overhaul of the Child Support Scheme implemented a few years ago.

Overseas Travel With Children
Date: Aug 22, 2010

The 2008 case of Dart v Graham dealt with the issue of a father wanting to take his children on an overseas holiday to Bali for his wedding. The mother opposed the children travelling to Bali due to advice issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) warning travellers to Indonesia that the country has risks associated with travelling there.

Protection from Domestic Violence
Date: Aug 22, 2010

Domestic violence is commonly thought of as physical abuse. However, it can also include other conduct such as sexual, emotional or psychological abuse.

Same Sex Divorce
Date: Aug 22, 2010

For those people in a same sex relationship who have married one another in a civilised country where same sex marriage is available, and reside in Australia, what happens if your relationship irretrievably breaks down? Can you apply for a divorce in Australia? The simple answer no.

Superannuation in Financial Settlements
Date: Aug 22, 2010

Most working Australians have some superannuation and for many their superannuation can be quite a substantial part of their financial future. Before 2002, dealing with superannuation entitlements often posed problems in family law financial settlements because there was no ability to divide them. The outcome usually was that the party with the greater superannuation would get a lesser share of the other property to compensate for the other party not being able to access the greater superannuation fund.

Surrogacy Laws in Australia
Date: Aug 22, 2010

With Queensland introducing new surrogacy laws in 2010, altruistic surrogacy has become legal throughout Australia. However, a lack of uniformity with regard to individual State’s legislation means that intended parents can become confused. This is compounded by the impact of Federal laws, particularly immigration laws, on overseas surrogacy and has caused many parents to be held up in foreign countries awaiting immigration papers for their child.

Taking Children From Australia
Date: Aug 22, 2010

Australia has many residents with family ties overseas. It is not surprising, therefore, that taking children overseas can often become an issue between separated parents. If the parents cannot agree upon whether a child can travel overseas with one of the parents, a court will make the decision, and the decision will be based on what is best for the child.

Trusts: Can you trust a Family Trust?
Date: Aug 22, 2010

When a family is blessed with some wealth, it is not uncommon to find a family trust involved.

What is Family Law?
Date: Aug 22, 2010

The Family Law Act is a long and often complicated piece of legislation. The area of Family Law is also affected by the Child Support laws and by laws regarding domestic violence.

What to expect from an initial consultation at Craddock Murray Neumann
Date: Aug 22, 2010

We understand that it is often a very big step for people whose relationship has broken down to take that first step and approach a lawyer for advice. We consider the role of a family lawyer to be more than just explaining what the law actually says. Case management and management of the client’s needs, sadly seems to be underrated. However we take it very seriously.

When a divorce is alleged to have occurred in a foreign country
Date: Aug 22, 2010

In the 2009 case of Taffa v Taffa , the wife made an application for divorce. The husband disputed the application for divorce on the basis that they were divorced in Lebanon on 24 November 1998 by the Jaafarite Canonical Court. The decision of whether the wife's application for divorce could proceed in the Family Court was dependent upon whether the Court recognised the divorce granted in the Lebanon court.

When is a relationship a De Facto relationship?
Date: Aug 22, 2010

In late 2008 various States in Australia surrendered to the Commonwealth Parliament the power to deal with the financial aspects of the breakdown of de facto relationships.

Which Court Do We Go To?
Date: Aug 22, 2010

There are a number of courts which can deal with family law matters, whether parenting and/or financial matters between couples, whether marriage or de facto relationships. Choosing the right court can save time, money or both, and the choice is one which family lawyers have to make all the time for their clients.

Same Sex Relationships Bill 2008
Date: Aug 22, 2008

The Federal Government has introduced legislation that aims to remove the discrimination against same-sex couples currently present in Acts governing Commonwealth superannuation schemes.

Same Sex, Same Laws
Date: Aug 22, 2008

The Commonwealth government removed discrimination against same-sex couples in more than 100 pieces of federal legislation in 2008.

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