Going through a separation is stressful. It’s tempting to bend an ear of a friend or family member who’s been through a divorce for advice, but everyone’s circumstances are different, and their outcome may not be the same as yours.

The best plan is to seek legal advice about your individual situation from a family  lawyer. Sounds expensive? It doesn’t have to be.

In an Australian first, New Way Lawyers have created a Facebook group where you can ask the pressing legal questions you have without paying a cent.

Every lunch time one of their experienced family lawyers is available to answer your questions, absolutely free.

It can be difficult to know what to ask when you’re in the middle of a separation, so here are five common questions you need the answers for.

1. Can we decide on parenting and property arrangements without lawyers?

You and your ex-partner can decide on what to do with parenting and property arrangements. If it is safe to do so, and if there are no family violence orders preventing communication, you can have direct discussion to work out arrangements.

If you are unable to reach agreement, seeking assistance from a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner can be beneficial. Family Dispute Resolution is a cost effective and emotionally supportive process that assists separating parties with identifying issues in dispute and reaching agreements. For more information visit Family Relationships.

Separating? The best plan is to seek legal advice about your individual situation from a family  lawyer. Best of all, it doesn’t need to be expensive.

2. Do we need to formalise our property and parenting agreements?

When separated parties reach agreement through direct discussions or mediation these agreements are not legally binding. It is important to obtain legal advice regarding options for how agreements can be recognised as legally binding and enforceable.

For parenting agreements, options may include preparing and lodging an application for consent orders with the Court. For property matters a Binding Financial Agreement or an application for Consent orders can be considered.

3. Who gets to stay in the family home?

Following separation, unless there is a family violence order preventing a party from remaining in the property, or a family court order providing for one party to have exclusive residence of the family home, both parties are entitled to remain living in the family home.

While it may not be the most comfortable arrangement to remain living under the same roof after separation, this is an arrangement many separating couples have while they take steps to finalise their separation.

At all times the paramount consideration is everyone’s safety and wellbeing. If you are experiencing, or are at risk of experiencing family or domestic violence or abuse, contact the Police and 1800RESPECT or seek advice from a family lawyer.

It is important to understand that leaving or remaining in the family home does not directly affect entitlements to property / financial settlement.

4. How do we figure out child support payments?

Following separation it is normal to have lots of questions about child support. There are various approaches to child support arrangements and the best approach really depends on all the individual circumstances.

The most common arrangement is for child support to be paid according to an assessment made by the Child Support Agency. The assessment is based on a formula which considers several factors including the income of each parent, the care arrangements for the children, the ages of the children and any other dependent children of the parents from previous relationships.

Either parent can apply to the Child Support Agency for an assessment. If you are wondering about child support payments, it is helpful to visit Services Australia.

Sometimes however parents elect not to use the assessment by the Child Support Agency and instead wish to reach their own agreement about financial support for the children. These agreements can take the form of a Limited Child Support Agreement, or a Binding Child Support Agreement. It is always wise to get tailored legal advice about child support arrangements.

5. I want to relocate with my children, am I allowed to do this?

It’s not unusual after a separation to want a clean break, and a fresh start away from all the memories. If there are children involved, you will need to get the consent from the other parent before relocating  and make ongoing parenting arrangements for your children. It’s a good idea to seek advice from your lawyer prior to making any major changes following a separation.

If you have any questions you would like to ask about family law or domestic violence head to New Way Lawyers Lunch with a Lawyers Facebook group, one of New Way Lawyers family lawyers would be happy to help.