For whatever reason it appears the honeymoon period is over. If you are one of the many thousands of couples proceeding with divorce you will know it is a challenging time. The divorce process is highly personal; and the outcome may significantly impact your life.
Indeed, few of us have any prior experience with the legal ins and outs surrounding divorce. It is known for being a delicate process in which the emotional and financial stakes are high. Add to this, subsequent decisions around parenting, property, and finances; and one may suddenly realise the need for professional counsel. Thankfully, Canberra’s divorce lawyers are family law experts ready to offer their services as needed.
Bet it walking you through the process, understanding alternatives, and filing of documents they are there to help. Furthermore, their expertise in negotiation may prove invaluable throughout the settlement process. Some believe that finding the right divorce lawyer can even help to expedite the process and keep costs low.
But if you don’t know what to look for in a divorce lawyer, how do you know you’re investing all your money, hopes and dreams in the right one? Choosing a divorce lawyer is an important decision, however if you proceed with care, you may just find the help you need. So where to find the best in Canberra? Read on below.
What makes a great divorce lawyer?
The right divorce lawyer can help fast track your separation and take the stress out of what is already a challenging experience. Moreover, great divorce lawyers understand your position, listen and advise well, whilst keeping your best interests at heart. Here are some things to keep in mind as you evaluate potential candidates:
- Qualified & experienced. Law is an incredibly complex field, requiring years of tertiary study. Following a degree, all lawyers are required to gain formal admission to the profession by the Supreme Court of the ACT. Additionally, they require a practising certificate as issued by the Law Society. To support these qualifications, look for experience. Good divorce lawyers have years of experience and the case history to prove it. Moreover, the best divorce lawyers are fluent in a range of legal areas that straddle divorce such as property, trust, and family law. Finally, consider their skill set, things like communication, negotiation, and problem solving are all important.
- Family law specialist. Finding a lawyer with experience in all areas of family law – not just divorce – is incredibly important. Why? Because divorce proceedings often work in tandem with family law matters. Often a divorce can present other family law issues such as parenting and child support matters, property settlements, and spousal maintenance. Moreover, the divorce process may also require a range of ancillary services. Things like financial experts, forensic appraisers, parenting coordinators, and counsellors may each have a valuable role to play. Consider whether any would be relevant to your case and assess your lawyers’ access to these resources.
- Personally compatible. As human nature states we often surround ourselves with likeminded people that we relate to – and feel comfortable with. Choosing a divorce lawyer is no different. The right lawyer for you is someone you trust and feel at ease with. Importantly, they support your overarching philosophy on divorce and operate in a style that is compatible to you.
- Compassionate. For many people, the divorce process is a painful and emotionally charged time. This makes finding a divorce lawyer who genuinely hears and understands you ever more important. The best divorce lawyers are emotionally intelligent, empathetic, and are deeply compassionate. They are sensitive to the needs of both parents and exhaust all options to minimise negative impacts on children. Therefore, look for a family lawyer that you connect with. One that understands your position and is willing to support it.
- Reputable. Reputable lawyers are known for being leaders in their field, ensuring you will receive considered and well thought out advice. The best divorce lawyers often come recommended. Speak to colleagues, friends and family, other lawyers, and soon you will have a list of the most reputable options in Canberra. Verify these recommendations with some research. And, even if you have no intention of heading to trial, review each lawyer’s trial record. Their history of success in court is a great track record and a good indicator of their success in negotiation.
The best divorce lawyers in Canberra
RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.
DDCS Lawyers are Canberra’s leading relationship lawyers, specialising in family law, including divorce, as well as wills and estate planning. With 11 members on the team and an award-winning reputation, DDCS Lawyers offer some of the best legal advice and representation in the Canberra region. The firm’s founding partners consistently rank as leading family lawyers.
The firm’s dynamic team of lawyers, with a breadth of experience and diverse backgrounds, has helped thousands of clients, whether starting or ending a relationship, needing advice for parenting agreements, or needing to protect assets and loved ones with estate planning.
DDCS knows what matters most. The team understands the emotional and financial stress of divorce and uses a unique blend of confidence, skill and compassion to guide clients. DDCS also recognises that families and couples come in many shapes and sizes, each with their own unique challenges. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution with divorce. DDCS has the experience and expertise required to navigate the unexpected and reach optimal results with minimal disruption.
As satisfied client Cedar Hernandez wrote on Google, “Di Simpson and her team were truly amazing. She articulates everything that is most important and fought for my best interests. I felt fully supported and found the Family Law process empowering even through the stress and emotional turmoil. I was involved in the process which was important to me. Di listened to me and understood the big picture I wanted her to understand. I felt validated. The expense was worth it.”
Baker Deane & Nutt
Baker Deane & Nutt (BDN) is a full-service law firm providing expert advice with a personal touch, including with family relationships, divorce and custody. Reliable, trusted and experienced, the firm has been supporting clients for more than 150 years.
BDN lawyers understand that separation and divorce is difficult and guide clients through this complex, challenging, and sensitive time with care. Clear and close lines of communication reassure clients every step of the way.
Services include property settlements, parenting arrangements, consent orders, division of superannuation, domestic violence and same-sex relationships. Mitigation of financial risks and reduction of stress is the aim for every client from the outset. Whether using collaborative law or the Family Court, BDN provides expert advice, guidance, and representation through tailor-made legal services.
Ben Day wrote on Google, “Absolutely hand’s down the best lawyers in the business. Compassion, empathy and understanding. Professionals to the highest degree.”
Parker Coles Curtis
Parker Coles Curtis is a boutique family law firm led by specialist family lawyers. The firm’s talented and devoted team supports clients before, during and after a break-up.
Combining expertise with extensive legal experience, lawyers provide care, choice and practical solutions for changing relationships or family law problems. The team provides advice to and represents clients in challenging situations like separation, divorce, parenting and custody disputes, family violence, domestic violence, property settlement, child support, spouse maintenance and wills and estate matters. An accredited mediator is available.
Parker Coles Curtis tailors options to suit clients needs. With their Australian-first ‘Loungeroom Lawyer’ service, clients can access affordable and accurate legal advice when it best suits. Loungeroom Lawyers makes it easy to seek legal advice. Clients don’t visit stuffy corporate law offices, book and pay for babysitters or take time off work. Instead, Loungeroom Lawyers visit clients in their homes or through video-consult, at a fixed fee.
Parker Coles Curtis helps clients regain control and get their life back. The firm works with culturally and linguistically diverse families and LGBTIQ+ families. Contact Parker Coles Curtis for a free 15-minute chat.
As Ben mentions, "Everyone is top notch with outstanding law knowledge, professional knowledge, and a witty human touch. I am in the perfect hands for my rather complex family matters. On top of it all Debra is very well connect and can bring in other experts, e.g. migration, to marry different law matters. Overall I really enjoy working with everyone at Parker Coles Curtis and feel I invested in the right top notch people. You are at the right address here if you are looking for the best in the game with outstanding standards and professionalism."
Snedden Hall & Gallop
Snedden Hall & Gallop has provided legal services in the Canberra region for 60 years. The family law team, backed by extensive experience and expertise, supports clients to resolve their family law matters as swiftly and amicably as possible. Clients are guaranteed considered advice and strong representation, including on property (such as the division of assets and liabilities following separation), parenting disputes and family violence or protection order matters.
As Mary Pezzella wrote on Google, “I would like to publicly congratulate the team at Snedden Hall & Gallop for their ongoing professionalism and thorough knowledge of current legal matters.”
Balance Family Law
Award-winning Balance Family Law helps couples and families separate the smart way, with kindness, respect and without court. From finalising child support to documenting clear parenting agreement, Balance Family Law offers the best legal advice and supports clients to save time, money and rest easy. Lawyers are trained in conflict coaching, collaborative law practice and human services.
On Google, Erin Hagerty wrote, “Thoroughly recommend Pepe and Jono at Balance Family Law. They are both knowledgeable, kind and compassionate lawyers.”
For the best law firms in the region have a read of our article on the best law firms in Canberra. Your situation may also require the services of our best chartered accountants, wills and estates lawyers, along with the best psychologists and child psychologists.
If you’re seeking a less-expensive alternative to going through the court system or working with a divorce lawyer, you might like our article on the best mediation and conflict resolution services in Canberra. And, for those considering reconciliation perhaps our article on the best marriage counsellors may be of interest.
Your experience with divorce lawyers in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you had experience with any of the divorce lawyers listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
When can I apply for a divorce?
To apply for a divorce separating couples must demonstrate that their marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’ with no likelihood of resuming and that they have been separated for 12 months or more. Moreover, couples need to be Australian residents or citizens, or regard Australia as their permanent home spending at least 12 months residing in the country before lodging the application. Any couples married overseas can also apply for a divorce in Australia provided the meet these criteria. Couples married less than two years must either attend counselling with a family counsellor and file a counselling certificate or obtain permission from the court to apply for a divorce without one. Finally, it is worth noting that a divorce application can be applied for by one person alone, or jointly.
How do divorce lawyers charge for their services?
This varies from firm to firm. A good rule of thumb is that the more legal input required, and the more time involved, and the higher the expense. Some law firms may offer a fixed fee structure, some offer a no win no fee structure, while others work to an hourly rate. Hourly rates typically range from $200 per hour for a junior lawyer to upwards of $600 per hour for a senior partner or principal. Additional charges may also apply for things like extra meetings or court attendances. Always review the payment structure for your divorce lawyer to understand how they charge, and any additional billable components therein.
Do I have to be divorced to finalise parenting or property arrangements?
No. The granting of a divorce denotes the legal ending of a marriage; however, it does not determine arrangements for parenting, maintenance, or property. If you want to apply to the Court for orders in relation to property, however, you need to do this at the latest within 12 months of your divorce becoming final. These arrangements must be addressed separately and can commence at any stage. For assistance here you may wish to speak to an experienced family lawyer to understand your rights and obligations in relation to property and parenting matters.
How is a divorce settlement worked out?
Typically, a divorce settlement includes the review of a couple’s net property pool; their contributions including financial, non-financial, homemaking or parenting; along with anticipated future needs. From this review, the settlement process results in a percentage division of property between spouses. It is worth nothing that time limits for filing property settlement proceedings currently apply; being 12 months from the date of divorce for married couples or 2 years from separation of de facto couples. Calculating the settlement percentage is an incredibly complex process, and professional counsel from an accredited family or divorce lawyer can be helpful.
Are there any alternatives to the Family Law Court system?
Yes, there are alternatives to traditional litigation. One option is mediation; where separating couples effectively determine their own arrangements either independently or assisted by a trained neutral third party such as an accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. Another option to consider is a collaborative divorce. Like mediation, a collaborative pathway is designed for parties who wish to avoid litigation. Under this option, separating couples and their respective lawyers enter a written agreement whereby parties will not litigate or threaten to litigate during the divorce process. Additionally, lawyers will not advise clients to threaten litigation. For further information see https://www.familyrelationships.gov.au/.