Please have a read through for our most commonly asked questions.

I am thinking of separating. Would it help to see a lawyer before I do?

Yes, it would.

Seeing a lawyer before you separate can give you more options. Sometimes it becomes clear to you that you do not really want to separate and we can refer you to other professionals who may assist. Other times it becomes clear that you need more time to decide what to do. Seeing us helps make these decisions easier.

If you do separate, it can make matters less complicated if you have obtained advice about your rights and entitlements early on. Our family lawyers will support you through the separation process.

Alternately, if the break up has come as a shock, you should obtain family law advice as soon as possible so you know where you stand. Some of the most important decisions are made at or very soon after the time of separation and it is important to be fully informed when making these decisions.

Do I need a lawyer?

When you are faced with family breakdown one of the key decisions you need to make is whether you need a lawyer. Many families manage their way through the legal side of things without any formal legal advice. It really depends on your situation and how easy it is for you to communicate with the other party.

You may think that seeing a lawyer is a big step and one that will antagonise the other party. Using an experienced family lawyer will not do this as we can provide realistic, easy to understand advice which helps everyone in the long run.

Some of the questions we routinely ask our clients indicate whether it is likely to be of benefit to you to see a family lawyer:

  • Are there children involved?
  • Are you unsure what property assets your partner has and what you may be entitled to?
  • Has your partner hired a lawyer?
  • Is violence an issue or a possible issue?
  • Are there substance abuse or mental health issues at play?
  • Do you feel emotionally unprepared to handle the negotiations yourself?
  • Is there likely to be a disagreement over the dividing of the property or assets?
  • Is your partner likely to want to move interstate, overseas or far away with your children?
  • Are you transferring assets between yourselves and require assistance in obtaining an exemption from the payment of stamp duty or tax?

If you do need a lawyer, please contact us to discuss your situation.

What should I look for in a good family lawyer?

A good family lawyer will have strong knowledge of family law and other relevant areas of law. A good family lawyer will also be a strong communicator and explain the law to you in an easy to understand way.

They will also provide you with cost effective advice that tells you what you need to know and hear not necessarily what you want to hear.

An excellent family lawyer will have all these qualities plus compassion and understanding.

We pride ourselves on being excellent family lawyers.

How experienced are your lawyers?

All of our lawyers practice exclusively in family law.

George Athanasiou, Helene Athanasiou and Evangeline Athanasiou have combined family law experience of over 40 years.

George, Helene and Evangeline will provide you with the very best advice, guidance and representation in family law.

I work full time. When can I come and see you?

Our office hours are Monday to Friday 8.30am-5.00pm.

However, we recognise that it is difficult for some people to come to appointments during that time. We are flexible with our times and can make ourselves available after hours on request.

We are also child friendly and understand if little ones need to come with you for your appointment.

What should I bring to my first appointment?

The key initial step is to prepare before visiting so you can get the most out of your first appointment.

Firstly, If you have been served with Court documents or you have a letter from your partner’s lawyer, it is best if you send them in to us before the appointment, so our family lawyers have a chance to consider them (at no extra charge) before we meet with you.

Otherwise, to the initial appointment, it is very helpful for us if you bring in the following:

  • Please bring a statement to your first meeting which sets out the details of you and your partner, and your children. This will include:
    • The relevant dates of your relationship
    • Living arrangements for you and the children
    • A list of assets and liabilities
    • Details of how you acquired or paid for those assets and liabilities.
  • Provide your family lawyer with documents relevant to the case including:
    • Your marriage certificate
    • Birth Certificates for children
    • Copies of any previous Court documents
    • Documents which establish your financial circumstances which could include:
      • Tax returns
      • Most recent superannuation statement
      • Pay slips
      • Bank statements
      • Centrelink statements.

I've been served with family court documents. What should I do?

The Court documents you have received will have a date and time filled in by the Family Court of Western Australia (in the right hand corner of the first page of the Application) for when your matter will first be in Court.

You will need to call us as soon as you receive the Court documents and, if possible, well before the first Court date.

The first court date can be critical and often matters are negotiated at that Court date which can shape the entire Court process. This is why it is extremely beneficial to have a lawyer attend your first court listing with you.

Given we appear at Court on an almost daily basis we know what to expect at Court and can explain likely outcomes to you of each Court event.

An experienced family lawyer will not only relieve the stress you feel at having to attend the Court date but be able to carry out all the negotiations for you as well as providing you with on the spot advice as to what is happening.

The other main benefit in seeing a family lawyer before your first court date is they will help you with the drafting and filing of your responding documents.

My relationship has broken down but I don't want to go to Court. What are my options?

Seeing a lawyer does not mean that you will end up in Court.

We help the vast majority of our clients reach an agreement about their family law issues without going to Court. There are many different ways of resolving family law disputes such as mediation and other types of negotiation. Our family lawyers can assist you to choose the best approach for your situation.

We have considerable expertise in negotiating matters and attending both informal and formal mediation conferences on behalf of our clients.

We've already come to an agreement. What next?

Many of our clients come to see us because they have already come to an agreement but want to make sure they document their agreement properly.

We can draft your consent documents and make sure your documents are completed so that your matter can be finalised properly.

Are there any time limits which apply to Family Law that I need to know about?

Yes. There are strict time limits which apply to family law matters that must be complied with. These are as follows:

  • Property Settlement and Spousal Maintenance Applications for De Facto couples– The deadline for filing an application for property settlement or spousal maintenance arising from a de facto relationship is two (2) years from the date of separation.
  • Divorce – There is no time limit by which an Application for Divorce must be filed, however, no Application for Divorce can be filed unless there has been a period of 12 months of separation between the parties. That period of separation may be under one roof. If this applies to you, you should ask us about the evidence the Court will require.
  • Property settlement and Spousal Maintenance Applications for Married couples – The deadline for filing an application for property settlement for couples that have been married is 12 months from the date of divorce, however, an application can be filed at any time prior to this date and after separation.

There are ways to seek the Court’s permission to file applications once a deadline has passed, but this can be difficult and costly and is best avoided. If you do need to do this please contact us to discuss.

I'm starting a new relationship and want to ensure my assets are protected. What can I do?

You and your partner can enter into a Financial Agreement which provides how your assets, liabilities and superannuation will be divided if you separate.

These Financial Agreements are sometimes referred to as Pre-nuptial Agreements, Cohabitation Agreements, Binding Financial Agreements or BFAs. For example, a Financial Agreement can provide for you to keep the assets you had at the beginning of your relationship if you and your partner later separate.

Our family lawyers can advise you about the law, discuss your options and prepare a Financial Agreement for you. However, for the Financial Agreement to be binding, it must meet strict legal requirements, including a requirement that each party obtains their own independent legal advice. For this reason it is essential to consult with one of our experienced family lawyers before entering into a Financial Agreement.

Lawyers have a reputation for being expensive. How much is this going to cost me?

The benefit of a good family lawyer far outweigh the costs. However, at Ferrier Athanasiou & Kakulas we understand and are extremely conscious of keeping a lid on legal fees and disbursements.

We’ll support you in your legal journey by giving you a clear and concise estimate of predicted costs. We also send itemised bills to our clients on a monthly basis so they know exactly how much their legal spend is from month to month and how much time has been spent on each task completed.

We find this transparency means clients rarely complain about their costs and there are no nasty billing surprises at the end of a matter.

We are also happy to answer any billing queries at any time and at no charge.

Where is your office? Is it near public transport? Is there parking?

We are conveniently located in the centre of the Perth CBD.

We are located at Level 1, 15 Howard Street, Perth. Howard Street is a small street that runs between St Georges Terrace and The Esplanade.

We are in walking distance to both the Elizabeth Quay and Perth Underground train stations.

We are also a 5 minute walk to the Perth City Convention Centre Car Park if you should wish to drive and a similar walk to the Busport.

Click here for our contact details and location map.

The Law Society of Western Australia Family Law Practitioners Association of Western Australia Law Council of Australia Family Law Section