If you are a lesbian experiencing a family law separation, we understand the issues and aim to achieve a successful and fair outcome, whilst providing a welcome environment.
Australian law recognises that same-sex couples and their children are entitled to receive the same level of protection under the law as heterosexual couples and their families. Reforms to Australian law regarding same-sex couples came into effect over time gradually and most importantly since March 2009 for lesbian couples in Victoria. The reforms then ensured that same-sex couples and their families had the same entitlements as opposite-sex de facto couples when it came to issues of property settlements. Then changes to the law meant that for all purposes lesbian couples are treated legally the same as married heterosexual couples which was another major step. Later again, after the plebiscite, marriage was legalized, but that didn’t change the law relating to separation. The history of the legal fight for equal rights is fascinating and complex. But the law today and where we stand today is the priority if you find yourself separated from a lesbian relationship you need to know where you stand.
However as no two families are the same, the application of the law may vary. Family law judges have discretion within the legal framework and different results can flow from slightly different application of their discretion. Broadly speaking our experience is that same sex couples, if they do have children have much in common with heterosexual couples. In these same sex property cases the issues of future needs of the primary carer are often are at the forefront.
Lesbians still face discrimination, but not legally and officially in the court system. Our experience has shown that there are a few recurring issues particular to lesbian separation compared to heterosexual marriages and heterosexual de facto couples. We have found that compared to heterosexual couples there are more disputes about primary care of children of the relationship and these disputes are fought sometimes intensely. A criticism levelled at the Family Court is that there is prejudiced assumption that in a heterosexual couple the female is the primary carer. No such issue occurs in lesbian separation. There are generally far more equal divisions of parenting roles in lesbian couples. Shared parenting after separation is therefore more likely too.
Lesbian couples with children, sometimes have very challenging legal concepts, based on the method of conception and birth, and we have been involved in cases where there are more than two “parents” or people seeking a right of custody or time with children.
We are aware of recent cases where same sex couples have, on the particular facts of the cases, received a different outcome to what others have expected. We need to assess which approach suits your case and argue those aspects of the law that add value to your case and minimise those factors that don’t.
We have also dealt with separations with women leaving heterosexual relationships for a lesbian relationship. A common theme is acrimony, extended family and friends in uproar, and denigration of the female parent to the children. The urgency is often greater and prompt action and court orders are often needed.
In Victoria the law recognises in the preamble to the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 “family violence is predominantly committed by men against women”. However this isn’t really helpful for lesbian couples where there are claims and counter claims of domestic violence. For those exiting heterosexual relationships into lesbian relationships and dealing with male anger it is a powerful statement.
If you’re separating in a lesbian or same sex relationship and want more information on your legal rights, or need help negotiating financial, property and parenting issues should your same sex relationship break down, please contact us to discuss your situation.
Family Law Solicitors
Just Family Law is dedicated to providing advice in all aspects of family law. The compassion and integrity of the family law solicitors at Just Family Law together with our extensive experience in lesbian and gay same sex couples will leave you comfortable and confident throughout the process of separation and divorce and family law issues including property and financial settlement and arrangements for your children.
WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE JUST FAMILY LAW?
- Independently approved Accredited Specialist –Law Institute of Victoria
- More than 25 years experience
- All solicitors and all staff just do Family law, all the time.
- We realise and care that this is a difficult and sensitive time but…
- We are commercially minded to get the job done
Please call 03 9793 7888.