Family Law: Family, Marriage, Civil Unions, Children and Personal Relationships

Most people find they need family law advice at some stage of their lives because they are part of a family or wish to build one.

Family law is unique. It involves the most important things in your life – your relationship with your husband, wife or partner, whether or not of the same sex, your children ( adopted or created naturally or by using fertility techniques), your home, your belongings, often, your business and always, your plans for the future which must take into account sickness, death and disaster.

Disputes over these matters are usually emotionally charged, complex, difficult to manage and resolve without the expense of time and money.

Our team specialises in all those aspects of family law. We are problem-solvers and solution-finders.  We know how important circumstances are to you.  They are unique.  We recognise this, share them with you and respond appropriately, listening to you and tailoring our approach to achieve the best possible outcome in all the circumstances.

And while our family lawyers focus solely on family law, they are able to draw on the knowledge of other experts in the firm in areas such as family trusts, wills property, business and litigation. Unlike other firms, who may deal only with family law, we are able to handle all aspects of your family law matter “in house”.  We do not need to refer you to different lawyers if further work is required (for example, if a house is sold, a trust needs review or urgent action is required in New Zealand or elsewhere for the protection and custody of children).

We  provide you with expert advice, expressed clearly and simply so that it is easy for you to understand. We know how important your problem is for you.   We respond appropriately, working with you, listening to you and tailoring our approach to achieve a result..

Many of our clients come to see us at a crisis in their  lives, for example when their relationship has broken up, where their ‘ex’ is proposing to move out of town or to another country with their children, where a spouse or partner has a major health or behavioural problem (mental or physical ill health or a drug, gambling or alcohol dependency) or perhaps where  a relative has died and the client has  been cut out of the will.

Increasingly,  clients are also approaching us when all is going well.  They may be looking forward to a new relationship where both parties already have children and assets and existing families and relationships are to be  blended.

Typically, in those circumstances the parties want to know where they stand legally and take positive steps to plan for the future to build the new family.

A developing area is where couples have difficult in having children of their own and wish to create a family using assisted reproduction and surrogacy techniques where someone else bears the couple’s child.  We have significant expertise in this area.  We deal with the parental status of the couple and the surrogate, the citizenship of the child, the terms and enforceability of the surrogacy contract and the information rights of those who donate genetic material.

Another developing area is the result of globalisation and immigration: the breakup of families splitting parents and children across countries and their respective rights under the Hague Convention and other laws to see each other and to be supported as they grow up.

Whatever the circumstances, we can assist. We keep up to date with the latest legal developments and the appropriate family law responses to them (a recent example being same sex marriages).  We have the hands-on knowledge and expertise that comes from dealing with family law issues and solving any resulting problems on a day to day basis.  Our expertise includes the following areas:

  • Adoption
  • Child custody (care, parenting orders, relocation)
  • Divorce, dissolution of marriage, civil union or personal relationship
  • Death (wills and relationship property claims).
  • Domestic violence (physical and mental)
  •  Estate administration
  • Estate claims
  • Estate dispute resolution ((wills and family protection)
  • Elder law (retirement homes, residential and hospital care)
  • Enduring powers of attorney
  • Guardianship of children
  • Maintenance of spouses and child support
  • Protection of Personal Property Rights
  • Paternity
  • Relationship property (pre-nuptial, existing relationship and blended families)
  • Relocation
  • Trusts
  • Wills
  • Welfare guardians or property managers for the mentally or physically infirm

By way of illustration, before or during your relationship we can:

  • Refer you to counselling
  • Advise you on  “where you stand”
  • Assist your future planning using contracting out agreements, trusts and wills.
  • Deal with property agreements/trusts/wills
  • If domestic violence is an issue, provide you with advice about protection orders and police safety orders  and prevention programmes
  • Obtaining or defending protection orders
  • Referrals to programmes

If you are breaking up, we can:

  • Work out  arrangements for your property division, financial support and your children
  • Represent you in negotiations, mediation or through the Court
  • Draft  and certify relationship property agreements resolving the relationship
  • Transfer property as agreed between you
  • Advise on the reality of “trust busting” and the creation of new trusts.
  • Dealing with the dissolution of marriages and civil unions.

In respect of children we can:

  • Resolve disputes over care arrangements, contact with your children and other issues
  • Deal with child abduction and Hague Convention issues as well as relocation
  • Advise on adoption, assisted reproduction and surrogacy
  • Advise on child support and guardianship

We are committed to providing prompt and efficient advice, sympathetically, confidentially and realistically so that you have an objective view of your position.

Wherever possible, we try to obtain early resolution of disputes, encouraging clients to explore alternative and cost effective methods of settlement. Through this process, we will advise you fully of your options and allow you to elect what suits you best. Where negotiation proves impossible or is not the best tactical approach, we have the benefit of many years experience in conducting Court cases and obtaining the best results for clients in litigation. We understand that litigation can be a stressful process and our family lawyers will guide you through this, keeping you informed and ensuring you are well prepared.

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Our Family Professional Staff