Family and Divorce Lawyers

We are proud to say that more than 95% of our family matters and divorces settle without going to court.

We understand that when a relationship ends it is a very stressful situation and you will face many difficult decisions.

You can be confident that we will guide you through the challenging process, advocate for you and ensure that no-one takes advantage of you.

You can guarantee that we are here for you.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

What is family law?

In Australia, family law regulates several matters which relate to family and other relationships of a domestic or personal nature. Australia’s family law deals with issues such as those relating to marriage, divorce, parenting, property, domestic violence and adoption.

Typical processes of family law include property settlements, spousal maintenance, the termination of marriages and the custody of children. Family law matters are commonly resolved outside of court through processes such as negotiation, mediation, and family counselling.

Family law in Australia legislates with regard to both married and de facto couples, concerning itself with the issues that arise following the breakdown of these relationships. In addition, the same legal rights and rules that attach to married and de facto relationships in Australia extend to same-sex relationships.

Family law matters have a broad range of complexity and require the considerations of each matters unique circumstances to be addressed properly.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

Why Brander Smith McKnight Family Lawyers?

We are Sydney based lawyers proud that more than 95% of our family matters and divorces settle without the expense of going to court.

We understand that when a relationship ends it is a stressful situation and you will face many difficult decisions. You can be confident that we will guide you through this challenging process, advocate for you and ensure that you are not taken advantage of.

We are committed to treating all our clients equally and respectfully and work hard to reach a practical solution that is good for you and your children.

We guarantee that we are here for you during what can be a difficult period.

The BSM Team

Brander Smith McKnight are highly experienced in all areas of family law including:

  • divorce and separation
  • child support and parenting agreements
  • domestic violence (ADVOs and AVOs)
  • wills and estate planning
  • property settlement
  • alternative dispute resolution
  • Same-sex couples matters
  • De facto relationship matters

Our lawyers have extensive experience across various areas of family law in Sydney, having expertise in both the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court.

Why We Are Better

We have a clear and proven process:

  • We offer a free 20 minute initial consultation to evaluate your case and provide an estimate of fees.
  • Within 2 working days we provide a concise written description of the total cost and the cost of each stage.
  • Upon receiving instructions we will immediately commence work.

We always communicate with you:

  • We listen to you and keep you informed.
  • We return all calls and emails within one working day.
  • We are always available for you to contact. Even if your lawyer is in court, someone will be able to provide immediate legal advice.
  • We provide drafts of all written communication and court documents to you, prior to sending

We are renowned for providing premium professional legal advice, vigorously advocating for you and achieving outstanding results:

We have over 50 years of combined legal experience dealing with complex matters.  We have over 5,000 satisfied clients.


We have Chinese Speaking Family Lawyers

Brander Smith McKnight takes pride in offering a range of legal services in Sydney conducted entirely in Mandarin with our Lawyer, Sophie Zhang.
Sophie has extensive experience in family law and is a strong advocate in all levels of the Australian judicial system.
Sophie has close connections in the Australian Chinese Community and will understand your needs.
Sophie 是一位经验丰富的律师,拥有法学学士(西悉尼大学)和法学硕士学位(悉尼大学),并被新南威尔士州最高法院录取为法律从业者。她的母语是普通话,英语流利。
Sophie 在商业、家庭法和刑法方面拥有丰富的经验,有足够的能力在澳大利亚各州的法律体系代理您的案件。

Frequently Asked Questions

chevronWhat is the process of divorce or separation? Is it the same for married and de facto couples?

Married and de facto couples share the same legal rights but the manner in which a married versus a de facto relationship are ended different. The same rules also apply equally to married or de facto same-sex and heterosexual couples. De facto couples are not necessarily required to make a formal legal application to finalise the ending of their relationship but they are still equally entitled to the same rights available to married couples relating to property, maintenance, parenting orders and child support.

To obtain a divorce, you and your partner need to have been separated for at least 12 months. Legal assistance should be sought before this 12 month period in order to gain an understanding of how the divorce process works, what each parties obligations are and what may be the likely outcome of proceedings.

It is important to note that various legal processes associated with separation can be carried out separately to a divorce. The relevance of each of these processes will be dependant on your circumstances, they may include:

  • The division of property
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Arrangements relating to Parenting and Children (child support, custody, spend time with orders)

chevronHow do we go about splitting our assets?

Property settlements can be a complicated legal process and includes consideration of all kinds of property and financial resources such as real estate, shares, vehicles, furniture, superannuation, future pension entitlements etc. Splitting such assets through a property settlement requires consideration of many factors which include:

  • Each party’s financial contributions (this includes contributions made prior, during and following the end of the relationship)
  • The domestic contributions of each party
  • The future needs of both parties
  • The needs of any children and the impact of those needs on the parent’s
  • What division of property would be considered fair?

chevronWhat will happen with our children? Do we Have to go to court to organise that?

If you and your partner separate and you have children you do not necessarily have to go to court. It is advisable for people to draft a formal parenting agreement and seek appropriate advice from a lawyer.

When making a parenting agreement, parties can make decision relating to:

  • A child’s living arrangements
  • The extent of time spent by a child with each parent
  • The manner in which a child’s long term or decisions should be made (this may include decisions relating to the child’s health or education
  • Arrangements for birthdays, holidays and other special days in the child’s life
  • The contact a child will have with other parties such as their grandparents

A parenting agreement may be made privately with your partner or through by each party’s legal representation. Parenting agreements may take several forms, they include:

  • An informal verbal or written agreement: these agreements are made outside of court and are not legally enforceable. This is not an advisable long term option.
  • A parenting plan: these agreements a formulated by both parents, typically with the assistance of a third party, they are not legally enforceable. Parenting plans, whilst not enforceable in court, are used as a reference in court proceedings should they occur.
  • A consent order (also known as a parenting order) – these are legally binding documents that are lodged in a court. Consent orders defines the responsibilities of each party. A consent order can be applied for by not only a child’s parents but also their grandparents and any other party that is concerned with the child’s welfare, care and development.

Where making a parenting agreement outside of court is unachievable you may need to go to court and obtain a parenting order determined by the court. All of the court’s decisions regarding parenting arrangements will be determined on the basis of what it in the best interest of the children. Determining what is best for children is a complex task and requires consideration of a several factors including factors such as:

  • the child’s relationship with each of their parents
  • the need to protect a child from physical or psychological harm
    any views expressed by the child
  • A parent’s attitude to a child and the responsibilities of parenthood

Your Family and Divorce Legal Team

William Onishi

Senior Associate

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Sam Bailey

Senior Associate

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Belinda Doyle

Senior Lawyer

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Sophie lawyer sydney

Sophie Zhang

Senior Lawyer

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Family and Divorce Legal Services