We offer a wide range of services

Initial consultation

At Gentles Family Lawyers we understand that you are probably feeling emotional and a bit nervous at the time you enter our office for the first meeting. We will show you empathy and will do our best to make you feel comfortable when taking the first instructions from you.  If you need to see us urgently we can make your initial consultation after usual business hours if that is necessary and suits your needs.

The initial consultation takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes. We may ask you to bring any documents you think are relevant to that initial consultation. For example, if you wish to apply for a Divorce you may be asked to bring a copy of your Marriage Certificate with you.

We charge $363.00 (GST inclusive) for this consultation, which is paid either beforehand, or on the day.

If for any reason you decide that the option of resolution for your family law issues or disputes is the “Collaborative Family Law process” then we will make the next appointment with you free of charge.

If you already have an interest in the collaborative family law process then please take a look at the Collaborative Professionals NSW website to obtain further information about the process and read our section on Collaborative Practice for Family Law under our Services tab.

Call us on (02) 9977 0889 or (02) 8216 0886 or fill in our Contact form for advice you can trust.

Collaborative family law

If you are separating, separated or divorced and wish to resolve your financial and children’s issues with your former spouse or partner, demonstrate to your children that you have their best interests in mind and that you respect their other parent, then undertaking Collaborative Practice may be the appropriate way ahead. It is an innovative process that allows you to consult with interdisciplinary collaborative practitioners to finalise these family law issues in a respectful way that meets your family’s needs.

Every family law case is unique as is every family and careful consideration will be given about the most appropriate way forward for your family’s specific needs.

If you elect to proceed using this process you and your spouse or partner will each have a collaborative law practitioner acting on your behalf.  The process will include you both signing a Participation Agreement together with your lawyers that, among other things, is an agreement that you will use the collaborative law process to assist you to an agreed outcome, and you will not threaten or initiate court proceedings. The process has evolved since 1985 and has assisted countless parents to remain on speaking terms long after their separation and divorce which is one reason why clients are attracted to Collaborative Law and the process has been successful in many countries worldwide.

It is always advisable to have a Coach/ Facilitator for the process who may be a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner or Mediator qualified to teach you and your spouse or partner ways to communicate with each other now and in the future. During settlement meetings the Coach/Facilitator, who is neutral, is the person who generally keeps each party feeling safe and heard during the process and guides the parties with assistance from the lawyers or other professionals to find a workable resolution. The collaborative process may also involve a Financial Planner and/or a Child Consultant or other professionals who are collaboratively trained and are available where issues arise that requires their expertise.

Ioanita Gentles is a practising Collaborative Family Lawyer and a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Collaborative Professionals NSW.

If you would like to find out whether you could use Collaborative Practice and reap the benefits of a non-adversarial system that ensures that each person is active in working out solutions to suit their family’s needs and requirements with the help of interdisciplinary collaboratively trained professionals then call us now on (02) 9977 0889 or (02) 8216 0886 or fill in our Contact form for your initial consultation.

I am very grateful to Ioanita and her team who have supported me and taken the time to assist me in my parenting and property settlement resolved in the collaborative process. I was looking for a better and less expensive option than court after hearing stories from friends about their court costs over $100k and the process which can turn quite nasty. I believe the collaborative process with Ioanita as the collaborative lawyer was the best way forward for our family as I wanted to remain on good speaking terms with the father of my children.

I have recently had our Consent Orders sealed in the Family Court and I couldn’t be happier. My children are happy that their parents went through a non-adversarial process and they had a chance to voice their opinions to the Child Consultant and Coach in our matter, Ms Rebecca Burnett-Smith, of Dee Why.

Ioanita and Rebecca were professional, compassionate and both worked tirelessly to assist me whilst I was in a very stressful and difficult separation as my ex -husband and I were living under the same roof.

I have no hesitation in recommending Ioanita and her team as excellent professionals dedicated to a more civil way of resolving property and parenting matters without going to Court.

Paula, May 2016 – North Manly – Divorce matter

I would like to thank Ioanita for her patience, understanding, persistence and excellent professional work on my separation case. From the very first meeting, I felt comfortable and listened to and very clear of the collaborative process that was just about to start. Ioanita showed much empathy and respect during a very difficult and stressful time, and for that I will be forever grateful.

I have no hesitation in referring Ioanita Gentles and her team, and would like to wish them all best wishes for the future.

Jenni, May 2016 – Divorce matter

I found Ioanita Gentles simply by walking past her office one day at a point in my life when I needed a family lawyer, and I am so pleased that I did. From that very first meeting I knew that Ioanita would be exactly the kind of lawyer I needed to work with – kind when I needed kindness, strong when I needed strength and knowledgeable when I was completely lost in the divorce process.  I never felt that she was anything other than supportive of my needs and concerns.

Ioanita is a specialist in Collaborative Family law, and on her recommendation my husband and I decided we would try the process to see if we could get through our divorce amicably.  Overall this was extremely successful and I would definitely suggest that anyone going through a divorce consider the collaborative route – it is quicker, it is cheaper and it encourages the couple to remain civil despite the tense emotions that inevitably come into play during a divorce.

Liz, April 2016 – Balgowlah Heights – Divorce matter

Divorce & separation

When you want to get divorced it can sometimes be confusing knowing what to do and how best to do it.

At Gentles Family Lawyers we will assist by taking away the stress and concern about what to file, when to file it and whether or not you need to serve your spouse with the documents.

The only ground for a divorce in Australia is, that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

It might be difficult for you to work out whether or not you have spent the requisite 12 months living apart during your separation. Quite often couples find themselves trying to make their marriage work and spend some time apart, either in different homes or the family home, and some time in reconciliation. You can definitely be separated and living under the same roof but it is important you know where you stand legally when it comes to proving to the Court that you are in fact separated for the prescribed length of time. You may need to provide evidence from an independent person by way of an affidavit.

Either you or your spouse may apply for a divorce or you can make a joint application. If there are children under the age of 18 years old, the Court must be satisfied that there are proper arrangements in place for your children to care for them. One parent must attend Court on the date of the hearing of the application for divorce if  your children are under the age of 18 years old.

There is no requirement to attend court for your divorce hearing if your children are over 18 years of age or you do not have children.

It is important to know the following:

  1. That a limitation date applies to filing a property application in Court once a final divorce order has been made;
  2. The divorce order is final one month after the divorce order is made which may impact the date you can re-marry; and
  3. Some people may have difficulty with serving an application to a spouse who has moved overseas.

Please call us on (02) 9977 0889 or (02) 8216 0886 or fill in our Contact form for a fixed quote price on obtaining your divorce and detailed advice for your particular circumstances.

Given the complication of our separation under the same roof, Ioanita was able to clearly draft our affidavits with sensitivity allowing the process to run smoothly. I have no hesitation in recommending Gentles Family Lawyers given Ioanita’s wealth of experience and caring manner. Thank you for all your help.

Angelina – Joint Divorce

I can say that the whole matter was dealt with in a very professional, prompt and understanding way. Was obviously the first time I had been through the divorce process and everything was explained in a clear and concise manner and could be easily understood, which was a great help in what was a testing time for both my ex-wife and myself. Would not hesitate to recommend the services of Gentles Family Lawyers.

Brett – Client, Divorce Matter

I would like to thank Ioanita for her patience, understanding, persistence and excellent professional work on my separation case. From the very first meeting, I felt comfortable and listened to and very clear of the collaborative process that was just about to start. Ioanita showed much empathy and respect during a very difficult and stressful time, and for that I will be forever grateful.

I have no hesitation in referring Ioanita Gentles and her team, and would like to wish them all best wishes for the future.

Jenni, May 2016 – Divorce matter

Property settlement

Most often the way that assets and liabilities, financial resources and superannuation are to be divided after separating is a high priority.

Under the Family Law Act, which applies to all property matters, the term that describes this alteration of property interests is a “property settlement”.

We can assist you with identifying the property components of your relationship or marriage and obtaining or agreeing valuations.

You will receive expert advice so that you can resolve this very important issue amicably  in the first instance, or if there is a situation where Court may be the only option, then Ioanita has a wealth of negotiation, conciliation, mediation and litigation experience.

Please call us for early advice on (02) 9977 0889 or (02) 8216 0886 or fill in our Contact form.

Child custody / parenting arrangements

Every parent wants to know that after separation, whether from a marriage or a de facto or same sex relationship, that there is legal assistance available to assist them in transition, enabling each parent to share time with their children.

The Family Law Act 1975 deals with all manner of situations in relation to children and sets out children’s rights which include:

  • The right to know and be cared for by both parents
  • The right to spend time, and communicate regularly with both parents and other significant people which could include a step-parent or relative such as grandparents
  • The right to know their family culture

There is a mandatory requirement for parents who have a dispute regarding their children to seek the professional help of a counsellor who is trained and registered as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. This may help to limit any dispute before having to go to court.

It may be that a “parenting plan” can be entered into by the parties which involves each parent having parental responsibility for their children and drawing on the principle that the court holds highly, “to put the best interests of the children first.”

There are all sorts of issues that may arise regarding children and parents generally make the decisions about major long term issues together unless an exception applies.

If you need to go to Court generally the issues decided may include, but are not limited to, some of the following:

  • What school should the children go to
  • Who makes decisions about their welfare in the short term and/ or the long term
  • Can the children be brought up in one parent’s religion
  • What name should they be known by
  • Where can they live and with whom
  • Can a parent move his/her residence and take the children either interstate or overseas

When parents reach an agreement on issues, we deal with that agreement by drafting “Consent Orders” which are then filed in the Family Court. There is no requirement for either party to attend at court. Once the Consent Orders are accepted by the court and officially stamped they are enforceable.

Call us for an initial consultation on (02) 9977 0889 or (02) 8216 0886 or fill in our Contact form for advice you can trust.

Consent orders

We understand how difficult it can be for you when you are negotiating either a parenting order or property order or both by consent.

It is a good feeling to know that you and your former spouse or partner can come to agreement on aspects of family law so that you avoid  having to attend at the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court.  It provides each of you with certainty which is vital when embarking on a new life.

Gentles Family Lawyers can give you the right advice so that you can settle matters amicably, and we can then draft them into Court Orders in legal terms.

It will be important for many to know that you will not have to set foot in a court room if you successfully settle your family law issues by one of the methods outside the court regime. Certainly, we promote all amicable options as this enables clients to feel proud that they were able to work out these important issues in a dignified manner without third party intervention.

A lot of our clients have saved themselves emotional stress,  valuable money and precious time. However, it is not always possible to do this and you may require the assistance of the court in your matter.

Please call us for advice on (02) 9977 0889 or (02) 8216 0886 or fill in our Contact form.

Spousal maintenance

Following separation one party in a marriage or a de facto relationship, which includes same sex relationships, may be unable to financially support him or herself adequately. That person may be entitled to what is called “spousal maintenance” where the parties are married and “maintenance” where a de facto relationship exists.

For de facto couples where one party (“the Applicant”) may apply to the court for maintenance from the other party (“the Respondent”) certain conditions must be satisfied. If they are satisfied then the principle is, that a party to a de facto relationship must maintain the other party only to an extent that the Respondent can reasonably do so and, only if the Applicant can prove that he/she is unable to support him or herself adequately. For that purpose the Court will ignore any Centrelink or social security benefit the party may be receiving at the time.

Where couples are married or in a de facto relationship the Court is required to take into consideration, when deciding whether the Applicant can obtain maintenance in their favour, the following:

  1. Whether  they have the care and control of a child of the marriage or relationship who is under 18 years old
  2. The age of the Applicant or whether their physical or mental incapacity affects their ability to work; and
  3. Any other adequate reason.

It is expected by the Court that both parties will make reasonable efforts to find paid work if they can. Of course, the Court accepts the need for a parent to care for children, especially when they are pre-school age.

If you are in need of maintenance or maintenance is being sought from you then we will be happy to assist you with your legal rights and responsibilities.

Please call us to obtain detailed advice on (02) 9977 0889 or (02) 8216 0886 or fill in our Contact form.

Financial agreements

At Gentles Family Lawyers we prepare a Financial Agreement (“agreement”) that deals with each party releasing his or her former spouse from paying the other spousal maintenance in the future.  You and your former spouse both sign this agreement which is also specifically certified by each party’s lawyer pursuant to provisions of the Family Law Act 1975.

This agreement protects you from allowing your former spouse to  make such a claim when you have moved on with your life and may already be in a new relationship.

A party to a marriage can make an application for spousal maintenance without leave of the Court within 12 months from the date of your divorce and can also apply for spousal maintenance outside that time limit if the Court grants that party leave on such an application.

If you would like to limit what your former spouse can do after you have separated and are divorced, then,  it may be beneficial to you to have this agreement as part of your overall property settlement.

To find out more about this agreement and whether it is appropriate for you, call us for advice on (02) 9977 0889 or (02) 8216 0886 or fill in our Contact form.

Same-sex relationships

If your same-sex de facto relationship has broken down and you find yourself wondering if you have any rights and entitlements under the law then we at Gentles Family Lawyers would be happy to meet you and advise you on your particular individual circumstances and needs.

The law in relation to same sex couples changed for the better in 2009 and if you meet the criteria for a de facto relationship between heterosexual couples then you have the same rights and entitlements as them. These include property and maintenance rights available to same sex couples in New South Wales and most of the other states and territories in Australia and your children have the same rights of all children in Australia.

If you need assistance with making parenting arrangements or organising child support for your children following the breakdown of your relationship or require advice on financial issues or property settlement, call us on (02) 9977 0889 or (02) 8216 0886 or fill in our Contact form for advice you can trust.

Mediation

Why choose mediation?

  1. It is a safe place to resolve issues of parenting; property and financial matters;
  2. It is less expensive, and can occur more quickly than going to Court. Most Court matters regarding property are now referred to mediation for settlement purposes, in any event. Why pay to go to Court if you are going to mediation once you get there?
  3. A mediator is a neutral person who is trained in a facilitative and/or evaluative process to guide the parties to reach an agreement;
  4. Mediation can assist greatly with improving communication, especially when you are parents to your children forever;
  5. It can be legally assisted so you can be sure to obtain the right solution that a Court can simply review and seal your Consent Orders;
  6. Other experts such as a Child Consultant or a Financial person/Accountant can also be introduced into the process, where necessary;
  7. It can be arranged quickly; and
  8. You are assured that mediation is confidential.

If you require a Mediator or an experienced family lawyer to represent you at mediation, call us on (02) 9977 0889 or (02) 8216 0886 or fill in our Contact form for advice on the best way forward.

Last resort: Court

A. Property disputes

The Court system is geared to settlement of all property disputes from the time of filing an Application for Final and/or Interim (urgent) orders.

Once an application is filed in either the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court a process commences. Parties will be required to attend a case assessment conference with your respective lawyers and the Court Registrar. The object of this conference is to see whether any further information needs to be obtained such as disclosure of any documents by either party or valuations for assets may need to be gathered or agreed.

Once the parties are satisfied that they have identified the assets and liabilities, valued them and their superannuation and are aware of the other’s contributions during the marriage or de facto relationship the process moves on to a conciliation conference.

Our Solicitors will guide you through the conciliation conference process which, in the majority of cases, ends in the parties signing Consent Orders that are drafted on the day after having the assistance of the Registrar guiding the settlement discussions.

You will receive expert legal advice from Gentles Family Lawyers prior and throughout your property matter with consideration given to the cost involved. Naturally, settling a property dispute early on is advisable and very cost effective.

If you fail to achieve a settlement at the Conciliation conference, by law, each party has to make an offer of settlement to the other within a short time limit. Quite often you will end the matter at this stage by accepting or tweaking the offer so that you are in final agreement.

If the matter needs to proceed further we will give you solid advice on strategy, the costs involved and the possible outcome afforded by the Judge. A tiny proportion of cases proceed to a full hearing before a Judge and of those many settle in the first hours of the hearing commencing.

B. Parenting disputes

Going to Court with a parenting dispute can sometimes tie up a client for 12 to 24 months due to delays in the court system.

If necessary, the Court will direct that your family be involved in a child inclusive conference so a Family Report can be made available to it. You and your children will have appointments made to see the Family Report writer at the Court. That person is generally a Psychologist or Social Worker. The Family Report writer will also speak with your partner/spouse about what is going on for them and the children. It could take 2 to 3 months to obtain a date for the appointments with the Family Report writer due to the immense number of cases before both the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court. A report will be written about you, your partner/spouse and the children and copies will be available to all lawyers involved and the Judge.

At this stage, recommendations are usually made by the Family Report writer which may include but is not limited to, that the children should live with one parent and spend certain time with the other parent or that one or both parents should complete certain courses to assist in making them a better parent.  This is one way in which the Judge is able to find out what is happening in your family and how it may be impacting on the children.  Other information about the children may be sought by the independent children’s lawyer,if one is appointed,  to your parenting case. The independent children’s lawyer can issue subpoenas to schools, hospitals and government agencies that may be involved with you, your partner/spouse or family to provide the Judge with further information.  We can also issue subpoenas if we think it is necessary.

The principle applied by the Court in all matters relating to children is that the best interests of the child is paramount. The Family Law Act 1975 governs the way in which parenting and children’s cases are dealt with in the court system. Generally, it can be very taxing on children and parents to have to go through the process.

If you can avoid going through the court process then you and your family will be protected from ongoing stress and anxiety involved. If you have no choice in the matter then we at Gentles Family Lawyers are committed to try and settle your parenting matter with the least amount of stress involved and therefore we will do our best to complete your case in a cost effective manner.

Call with your enquiry on (02) 9977 0889 or (02) 8216 0886 or fill in our Contact form for advice you can trust.

Collaborative family law

A successful dispute resolution method which is out of court and under your control.

Get in touch with our team today to see if it's right for you.

Conveyancing services

Sale of a Torrens Titles residential house
Initial consultation – to obtain instructions, whether selling by Auction or Private Treaty, what is included in the sale, and the estimate of costs and expenses involved in completing the sale. Preparation of a Contract for the Sale of Land, including obtaining all prescribed documents from the Council, Water Authority and Land Titles Office. Arranging for a Survey and/or Building Certificate from the Council, if required. Liaising with the Real Estate Agent appointed for marketing, providing them with copies of the Contract for the Sale of Land prior to marketing commencing. Attending to all legal procedures required to complete the sale. Attending to the settlement of the sale. Co-ordinating, where possible, the simultaneous settlement of the purchase by you of a new home.
Sale of a Strata Title residential apartment/townhouse

Initial consultation – to obtain instructions, whether selling by Auction or Private Treaty, what is included in the sale, and the estimate of costs and expenses involved in completing the sale.

Preparation a Contract for the Sale of Land, including obtaining all prescribed documents from the Council, Water Authority and Land Titles Office to form part of the contract.

Liaising with the Real Estate Agent appointed for marketing, providing them with copies of the Contract for the Sale of Land prior to marketing commencing.

Attending to all legal procedures required to complete the sale.

Attending to the settlement of the sale.

Co-ordinating, where possible, the simultaneous settlement of the purchase by you of a new home.

Prior to the auction of a property, where you propose to make a bid
Consultation to discuss the terms of the contract. Arrange for a pre-auction Building and Pest Report, or a Strata Report if the auction property is a Strata Title residential apartment/townhouse. Finance – confirm that you have written preliminary approval from a lending institution for adequate funding for the purchase. Should you be the successful bidder, we would then attend to all legal procedures required to complete the purchase, as detailed below in the purchase by Private Treaty.
Purchase of a Torrens Title residential house by private treaty

Initial consultation – to discuss the terms of the contract and the costs and expenses involved in completing the purchase.

Finance – confirm that you have written preliminary approval from a lending institution for the funding of the purchase.

Discuss the need for a building and pest report prior to committing to the purchase by way of exchange of contracts, and arranging for these reports if required.

Attending to all legal searches and procedures required to complete the purchase.

Attend to payment of stamp duty on the contract and transfer.

Providing your lending institution with all information and documentation they require to release the funds for the settlement of the purchase.

Co-ordinating and attending to the settlement of the purchase.

Co-ordinating, where possible, the simultaneous settlement of the sale of your current home.

Purchase of a Strata Title residential apartment/townhouse by private treaty

Initial consultation - to discuss the terms of the contract and the costs involved in completing the purchase.

Finance – confirm that you have approval for the funding of the purchase.

Discuss the need for a building, pest and strata reports to be carried out prior to committing to the purchase, and arrange for these reports if required.

Attending to all legal searches and procedures required to complete the purchase.

Attending to payment of stamp duty on the contract and transfer.

Providing your lending institution with all information and documentation they require to release the funds for the settlement of the purchase.

Co-ordinating and attending to the settlement of the purchase.

Co-ordinating, where possible, the simultaneous settlement of the sale of your current home.

Transferring shares in property and refinancing

As Family Law Professionals at Gentles Family Lawyers, we can also arrange for the transfer of real property from one party to another following the granting of Consent Orders by The Family Court of Australia or for consideration where parties are not subject to Family Court Orders.

There is no stamp duty payable on these transfers if it is a transfer between spouses and/or de facto partners.

Refinancing is generally part of the procedure in Family Law matters. If you need assistance finding a financial institution we are affiliated with Sean Richardson at Freshwater Financial Services and Sally Prowse at Sandcastle Finance who can assist you.

Making the process easy

Phone us

Manly office: (02) 9977 0889
Ioanita Gentles: 0412 341 635
Conveyancing: (02) 9977 0889

Read about our team

Visit us

Manly: Suite 5, Ground floor
39 East Esp, Manly 2095 NSW
City: Level 10
20 Martin Pl, Sydney 2000 NSW

Other locations

Opening hours

Our Manly office hours are:
8.30am to 5.00pm
Lunch hour: 1-2pm

We look forward to helping you