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Chatswood Family Lawyers Helping You Take Control of Your Divorce and Regain Control of Your Life

At Chatswood Family Lawyers, we know how important it is that our clients understand the Family Law process. Knowing what to expect and how we’ll be there to assist you can give you peace of mind during this tumultuous time.

As with any process, the more advance planning you do, the easier your divorce can be. Prior to the commencing family law proceedings, spouses have a great influence on the tone of the proceedings and whether the process is cooperative or adversarial. It is helpful to have an open discussion with your spouse about your plans after marriage. Competing goals, such as custody of the children and ownership of certain assets, often require litigation. But if you and your spouse are not at odds about parenting or property issues, you may be able to work collaboratively on your divorce and reach a settlement agreement even before you file. An experienced family lawyer can counsel you on methods for obtaining an uncontested divorce.


Most Australian Family Law Matters follow a similar pattern. You can expect your family law matter to involve these aspects:

  • Eligibility

To file for family law proceedings in New South Wales, one of the spouses must be an Australian citizen, ordinarily reside in Australia or present in Australia at the relevant date.

  • Jurisdiction

A spouse seeking to file for family law proceedings must file in the court of a state where one of the spouses resides, in the case of a marriage they must file within 12 months of a divorce order and in the case of a de facto relationship they must file within 24 months of separation. Further, the filing party must have made a genuine attempt to resolve their dispute before starting a case.

  • Filing

The spouse who files the divorce papers at the court is known as the applicant. The other spouse is the respondent.

  • Service of process

The applicant must arrange to have the initiating application and affidavit delivered to the respondent. The way this is handled can influence the tone of future proceedings. Embarrassing your spouse can cause bitterness; a courteous phone call arranging a time and place for service sets a professional tone.

  • Response

The respondent has 28 days to file a written response to the application.

  • Disclosure

The spouses must disclose their financial information. In contested family law proceedings, negotiations of ancillary issues begin after a value has been established for the marital estate.

  • Conciliation conference

This is an informal settlement conference in the Registrars’ chambers. The Registrar will assist the parties to settle and make non-binding recommendations regarding a settlement.

  • Settlement

If you and your spouse reach an agreement, the family lawyers draft a document for the court. Judges usually approve negotiated settlements and incorporate the terms into a Family Court Order. The Court also accepts partial settlements, with the remaining issues being held over for trial.

  • Trial

Depending on the court’s calendar, the wait for a trial date may be up to two years. During that time, your family lawyer prepares your case by assembling documents, deposing any witnesses and consulting experts if necessary. When the trial date comes, both sides present their case to the judge, who rules on the issues and enters a final divorce judgment.


If you’re considering divorce, you want a family lawyer who you can rely on at every stage of the process. Contact Chatswood Family Lawyers today online, by email at or by phone on (02) 9412 4500 for a consultation. Our firm serves clients in the North Shore, throughout greater Sydney and its environs.