FAQ

Do I need a lawyer?

No.
However, meeting with a lawyer at O’Sullivan Davies (even if just for the initial consultation) can assist you by:

○ Giving you an idea of what to expect when dealing with parenting, child support, property, and maintenance matters;
○ Equipping you with the “next steps” for you to take to reduce any disputes;
○ Providing you with practical tips to make arrangements for the care of children or to protect your financial situation.

All of our lawyers are very experienced and working with us early on can help to resolve your matter at an early stage without going through the cost and time of litigating matters in the Family Court.

It can also help prevent issues from arising in the future that may have been spotted if legal advice was obtained early on.

If I see a lawyer do I have to go to Court?

Absolutely not.

Many of our clients attend the initial consultation just to obtain specific and targeted advice about their situation (in relation to parenting or financial issues) and seeing a lawyer does not mean you will end up in the Family Court.

Separation can be one of the most stressful times in a person’s life and we can give you guidance as to what the next steps should be, provide you with dispute resolution suggestions to keep your matter out of Court, and empower you to resolve your matter as quickly and amicably as possible.

When should I see a lawyer?

As soon as possible.

Many of our clients have a first meeting before they formally decide to separate. You can be assured that any meetings or discussions you have with us will remain confidential.

We can provide you with advice to ensure that you are not disadvantaged by any action that your partner/spouse may then choose to take during the separation process.

What is the process to engage O’Sullivan Davies?

Please call or email O’Sullivan Davies. You will be required to provide your full name and the name of your partner/spouse so that we can ensure that there is no conflict. Once that is established, a law clerk will call you back to schedule a free 15 minute telephone call with one of our lawyers to give you an idea of what to expect and what to prepare for the initial consultation.

We will then invite you to meet with us for an initial consultation which is generally 1 to 1.5 hours in duration.

This can be conducted at our office in the Perth CBD or via Zoom/Skype.

What should I bring to my first meeting?

Prior to your first meeting, we will forward you a New Client Instruction Form to complete. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the form. You should also bring any correspondence you may have received from your partner/spouse’s lawyers and any previous Court Orders, Parenting Plans, or signed Agreements.

We will also request 100 points of ID so that we can verify your identity.

Why should I use O’Sullivan Davies?

O’Sullivan Davies has been assisting families in Western Australia to resolve their disputes since 2000 and has been named a First Tier Family Law and Divorce Firm in Western Australia every year since 2013.

All of our lawyers practice exclusively in family law.

Andrew Davies and Trevor O’Sullivan, founding Partners of the firm, continue to practice at O’Sullivan Davies and are consistently regarded as two of the leading Family Law & Divorce Lawyers in Western Australia and Australia. Both Andrew Davies and Trevor O’Sullivan also practice as experienced mediators.

Partners James Claringbold and Nicola Watts, and Consultant Nicola Jansen have also been recognised as leading Family Law & Divorce Lawyers in Western Australia. The firm has 4 Accredited Family Law Specialists who have passed a comprehensive examination process proving their skills and expertise in the area of family law.

The structure of the firm allows us to assist parties in a professional and cost effective manner – generally you will have a senior solicitor assigned to your matter, assisted by a junior solicitor or paralegal, so you will have two points of contact at all times. All work conducted by the junior solicitor and paralegal is supervised so you can be confident you receive quality legal services at the appropriate price point.

We are client focused and provide clients with clear direction and advice to enable them to make decisions during this difficult period of their lives. We are committed to dispute resolution methods to allow clients to resolve problems outside of the Court system wherever possible.

LIMITATION PERIODS 

What are the relevant deadlines?

Parties can make an application to the Family Court in relation to children at any time after separation.

Parties to a marriage must make an application to the Family Court for property settlement and/or spousal maintenance within 12 months of their divorce order taking effect (however, if they never get divorced, or if they are divorced overseas, this time frame never expires).

Parties to a de facto relationship must make an application to the Family Court for property settlement within 2 years of their separation.

DISPUTE RESOLUTION 

Do we have to go to Court?

No.

If you and your partner/spouse can reach an agreement, it can be drawn up in Consent Orders or a Financial Agreement. Consent Orders are submitted to the Family Court but no appearance by either person or their lawyers is necessary.

Agreement can be reached through discussions, or by various other alternative dispute resolution options (set out below) well before the need to commence proceedings arises.

What is a Financial Agreement?

Financial agreements deal with property, financial resources, and/or maintenance for couples before, during, or after their marriage or before, during, or after their cohabitation.

Both people require independent legal advice (i.e. their own lawyers) to enter into a Financial Agreement.
Approval by the Family Court is not required for a Financial Agreement to be binding.

A Financial Agreement can be useful for couples who are entering into or who are already currently in relationships, as it is the best way to provide for what you want to happen in case of a future relationship break down. You do not need to be separated to enter into a Financial Agreement. A “pre nup” usually refers to a Financial Agreement made before marriage or cohabitation.

I don’t want to go to court – what are some other ways to resolve my property matters?

Separating parties can consider non Court based options including informal conferences, mediation, a Mediation Style Conference (assisted by lawyers) and arbitration.

The quickest and most cost effective way to resolve any family dispute is by agreement. With parenting matters, an ongoing relationship with both parents is likely until the child turns at least 18 years of age, and therefore we recognise that preserving such a relationship is important and is most likely to happen when an amicable agreement can be reached.

We can assist you by:
Providing you with timely and accurate advice on your rights and entitlements, so that you are fully informed to attempt a settlement as early as possible; 
Guiding you in a facilitative and practical way rather than positional way to try and reach agreement faster; 
Ensuring your matter is well prepared. 

What is Family Dispute Resolution?

Parents are encouraged to resolve matters concerning the welfare of their children without going to Court.

Unless an exemption applies (e.g. where there are circumstances of urgency or family violence) parents are required to obtain a Certificate from a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner before commencing proceedings in the Family Court.

We can assist to refer you to a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner suitable for your circumstances.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process where a trained person (the Mediator) helps the parties to negotiate a resolution to their dispute.

The Mediator will facilitate discussions, identify any issues in dispute or concerns, and identify and explore options to resolve the dispute.

Parties to a mediation have more control over the process, including which mediator they select, the date and time and location of the mediation, and the privacy of having the matter discussed in a non-Court setting.

Lawyers can assist parties during the mediation, usually also known as a “Mediation Style Conference”.

We can assist to refer you to a Mediator suitable for your circumstances.

Andrew Davies and Trevor O’Sullivan also chair mediations regularly if you are looking for a mediator to assist in your dispute.

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is a process where parties submit their arguments and evidence to an Arbitrator, who then makes a decision about the dispute.

It is similar to a Trial, however, parties to an arbitration have more control over the choice of arbitrator, and it can also often result in significant time savings (as if you navigate the Family Court system it can take 2 to 3 years before you are allocated a final Trial date).

An arbitration can be convened for specific issues, or to finalise all issues in dispute.

What if I am already in Court?

We can still assist you with alternative dispute resolution options as set out above.

Even after a matter has commenced in the Family Court, couples can still reach a settlement at any time during the proceedings. There is no need to wait until a final Trial to have the matter determined by a Judicial Officer.

Less than 5% of matters commenced in the Family Court end up at a final Trial, and we are committed to assisting you to achieve a quick and amicable settlement.`

LEGAL COSTS

What will my legal fees be?

Unfortunately it is difficult to estimate your legal fees until we have met with you and have an idea of what issues are in dispute in your case.

Some lawyers/law firms do not charge for an initial consultation. We charge for our initial consultation because we provide specific, detailed, and targeted advice for your matter to provide you with a clear pathway forward.

After our initial consultation, we will forward you a Costs Agreement which sets out our fees and our estimates of your costs up to certain stages of the matter. Each of our lawyers and paralegals charges on a per hour basis and we will provide you with regular account updates to ensure that you are aware of your costs at all times.

Hourly rates can range significantly between lawyers within Western Australia. We consider our hourly rates appropriate for the level of experience and expertise we provide to your matter. The team structure at O’Sullivan Davies also enables us to assign the right person to the right task, ensuring that your costs are minimised as much as possible.

Can the other party pay my costs?

In the Family Court generally each person needs to pay his or her own costs. However, the Family Court can make orders for costs to be paid by the other person in certain circumstances at the finalisation of a matter.

It is also possible in some circumstances for a person to seek that their spouse/partner pay their costs before a matter is finalised to ensure that they have the same ability to access legal representation.

O’Sullivan Davies can assist you to assess if you might be eligible to make such an application (or to defend such an application).