Navigating Family Law
ClearPath Navigating Family Law is a new concept consultancy and Family Law Firm offering lower fee structures and an understanding and empathetic approach to family breakdown.
ClearPath Navigating Family Law provides 2 distinct services:
Compare our fees with those of other services providers. You will receive outstanding service at a lower cost.
Principal: Marie Sullivan OAM
Service One – for Individuals - Australia Wide Family Law Litigation Support, Process Explanation and Strategic Planning Services
Have your own family lawyer, but find you are totally bamboozled by the whole process?
Obtaining the skills to provide your lawyer with quick, thought out instructions is critical. The more preparation you can do, the more knowledgeable you are about the process, the less time your lawyer needs to spend. Ensuring you respond promptly and comprehensively to requests, rather than having to be followed up, helps to reduce costs too.
With this in mind, ClearPath Navigating Family Law operates a unique and specialist consulting service which anticipates that you will already have retained your own family lawyer: you will retain Marie to assist you navigate your path through the family law environment, prepare instructions for your lawyer and present them in a clear manner, fill out forms comprehensively with confidence, and generally devise the best strategy. She can also refer you to other helpful support services such as forensic accountants, counsellors and child psychologists, as may be helpful in your circumstances. She will work hand in glove with your own lawyer and not as their competitor.
Clients have reported that Marie’s assistance has reduced overall costs, reduced stress levels and confusion, and assisted them to navigate the vexed family law process with confidence. Armed with a bank of knowledge and tools they would not otherwise enjoy, clients feel empowered.
You can speak with Marie by Skype or phone, in person or by email.
Marie has successfully assisted clients from all over Australia to navigate the minefield of their family law or estate law matter.
For Companies – Australia Wide Employee Assistance Program
Employees going through a messy family breakdown or wills and estate dispute are typically lost in a sea of unfamiliar personal trauma caused by the fracturing of the family unit. Enduring the frustration of drawn out legal processes and the application of laws they often do not understand, they need and benefit from assistance.
The enormous change in living arrangements and the separation from children typically caused by marital breakdown may drastically affect even the most stoic and best employees’ work performance.
ClearPath Navigating Family Law can prevent employee derailment and distraction and lessen working days lost resultant upon the emotional trauma caused by family conflict.
ClearPath Navigating Family Law can add considerable value to your company by lessening the effects of family breakdown. By giving them the tools they need, we enable your employees to remain efficient and focussed at work and to focus on the big picture, especially when it comes to children and the distribution of assets.
As yet another outstanding employee benefit offered by your company, one which differentiates your company from your competitors, our service may be included as part of your Employee Assistance Program.
As well as being armed with a bank of knowledge and tools they would not otherwise have, each participant will feel that they are being well supported emotionally during stressful times in circumstances where confidentiality is assured.
The company will enjoy fair and reasonable rates for the services and employees who perform to expectation. Speak to us about available packages.
Service Two - Traditional Family Law, and Wills and Estate Law legal advice and litigation services
ClearPath Navigating Family Law offers a broad range of traditional legal services for separated, married and de facto couples and interested third parties, such as also with a lower fee structure than many of ClearPath Navigating Family Law’s competitors. Where possible we encourage our clients to mediate a settlement rather than proceed to litigation, however we understand that each case will be different, and the level of co-operation between the parties will also be different. We can assist in the following areas:
What each area of our expertise may cover:
Property and Related Financial Matters include:
Parenting Matters include:
Marie is an experienced senior lawyer with over two decades of experience in Family and Estates and Corporate and Financial Services Law with deep experience in superannuation law. Marie is admitted to practice as a solicitor in NSW and Federal Courts.
Marie is also a FDRP and Nationally Accredited Mediator.
For services to the community, Marie was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours List in January 2012.
Marie is supported by Reema Doueihi, an accomplished senior administrative assistant who is well known for her high levels of expertise and superior customer service delivery.
Our method of working
Intentionally we only work with a small number of clients at any point in time to ensure they receive our full attention and focus, as one of our key objectives is to deliver robust and innovative solutions that meet the individual requirements of our clients.
The ClearPath Navigating Family Law team seeks to go above and beyond ordinary community expectations of what constitutes a consulting or legal service. Its clients will have access to advice that is both practical, commercial and meets their objectives but which will be delivered with Marie’s signature empathic and considerate approach which for Family Law clients feel that they are being well supported emotionally during stressful times at fair and reasonable rates as well as being provided with solid legal advice and strategic direction.
Navigating Family Law
What you need to know about the Australian Family Law landscape
Divorce is a process which terminates a marriage
A divorce does not resolve parenting and financial matters. To do so you need to make a separate application, or have a separate agreement about these matters.
There are strict time limits that apply in relation to when you can make an application for a divorce, and when you can make an application for financial matters after a divorce is granted. We can help guide you through this process and to make sure you make the right application at the right time.
Family Dispute Resolution
Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a process in which a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) helps parties to resolve their disputes. These disputes might include who your children will live with, who they will spend time with, and what to do about your shared property. FDR can help separating or separated couples or interested parties reach an agreement without having to go to Court.
If you are intending to ask the Court for parenting orders, or to make changes to current parenting orders, you will be required (except in very limited circumstances) to attend FDR and obtain an FDR Certificate before being able to commence Court proceedings.
There is no requirement for you to attend FDR if you only want to resolve property or financial issues. However, FDR can be a useful process to help resolve these sorts of disputes.
An FDRP is a person who has undertaken special training and is nationally accredited to satisfy certain legislative requirements and standards. An FDRP is independent of all the parties involved. FDRPs are specially trained mediators who are accredited by the Attorney General’s Department.
Marie has completed the NSW College of Law’s Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution Practice (FDRP) is registered with the Federal Attorney General’s Department as a FDRP.
She is a Nationally Accredited Mediator and is a member of LEADR and IAMA Association of Dispute Resolvers.
Please see: http://mariesullivanmediation.com/
During the mediation process, FDRPs help parents to discuss parenting issues, identify options and work out parenting and property agreements that are in the best interests of the children.
Mediation is a voluntary, confidential and impartial process in which the participants to a dispute, with the assistance of a dispute resolution practitioner (the mediator), identify the disputed issues, develop options, consider alternatives and endeavour to reach a future focused agreement.
Because mediation is designed to be self-determining and empowering, a traditional mediator does not advise on or make recommendations about the content or outcome of the dispute.
Mediation may be undertaken voluntarily or by order of a Court.
Where mediation is ordered by the Family Court, parties may participate in a form of mediation known as a Mediation Style Conference. This differs from traditional mediation in that the mediator is usually a qualified Family Lawyer who may be asked, with the agreement of all parties, to express a view to the parties about the issues in dispute and or the range of possible outcomes.
Negotiation involves lawyers assisting you with identifying the issues in dispute, developing options, considering alternatives and endeavoring to reach an agreement whilst providing ongoing advice and representation.
No matter what stage your dispute has reached we remain focused on applying our skills and expertise to negotiating a resolution, having regard to your needs.
We are experienced negotiators, and will use best endeavors to help you resolve your matter without the need for Court litigation.
In the event that you are unable to reach an agreement with your former spouse or partner, we are able to represent you in every aspect of Court litigation; equally, we may recommend retaining a barrister to represent you at Court which may in certain circumstances save costs. We regularly appear in the Family Court of Australia and may appear in the:
Do all family law matters have to go to court?
Not necessarily. And very few go to a final hearing.
There are a range of options for resolving disputes negotiation, mediation and arbitration, see: https://alternativecourtroom.com.au. Anecdotal evidence suggests that of those cases that proceed to court 95% settle without the need for a final hearing.
Do I need a lawyer?
We recognize that this may be a very distressing time in your life and we are well equipped to provide you with constructive guidance. We will help you find a clear path and navigate your way through your legal issues.
What time limits apply in family law matters?
If you are or were married, you must apply to the Family Court for property settlement and or spousal maintenance within 12 months of the date your divorce order takes effect.
If you are or were in a de facto relationship, you must apply to the Family Court for a property settlement and or spousal maintenance within two years of the date you separated.
Subject to the requirement to participate in there is no time limit in relation to when you can make an application to the Family Court in relation to children’s issues.
How long will it take to resolve my matter?
In the event you are unable to reach an agreement and it becomes necessary to commence proceedings, the Family Court of Australia estimates that matters will take approximately 2 to 2½ years to reach a final hearing.
What can I expect my costs to be?
Once we have had an opportunity to assess your matter we will provide you with an estimate of the likely range of fees. In the event your matter proceeds to Court we are obliged to provide you with cost notifications at various stages of the process.
What can you do?
One of the major concerns voiced by clients is the cost of litigation. We are often asked by our clients what they can do themselves to keep costs down.
If you are considering making an appointment with a lawyer, there are a number of things you can prepare that can save us time and you money.
For the first appointment:
You should ensure that you have the following information available to provide your lawyer:
You should endeavour to bring the following documents with you:
Don’t worry if you can’t provide the information or you don’t have access to the documents. We will be able to help you obtain these details and get the documents we need to properly advise you.