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We’re Newcastle lawyers who specialise in family law

Do you need information or advice about a family law matter?

When there’s so much at stake, you need to know your voice is heard – and understand all of your options.

Because every family law situation is unique, our team of specialist family solicitors believes it’s really important to listen to you so we can negotiate hard on your behalf.

It’s about finding the best possible solution for you and your particular circumstances.

Meet Alan Wright

Alan leads our family law team and is an Accredited Family Law Specialist, which is a qualification given by the NSW Law Society to the state’s foremost family law solicitors.

“I really do enjoy helping people come to resolutions so they can get on with their life” – Alan Wright, Accredited Family Law Specialist

As our Special Counsel, an Accredited Mediator and Newcastle lawyer who’s been working almost exclusively in family law NSW for nearly 30 years, Alan’s experience speaks volumes.

He has a down-to-earth determination to get you the best result without any unnecessary stress or costs. That means making sure you’re properly informed about all of your options and the likely outcome of your case.

That philosophy is shared by our passionate team of family law solicitors, including Ashlea Taylor and Liza Stewart. And it’s something we’re extremely proud of.

It’s important to get it right

When you’re involved in a family law matter, sometimes it’s hard to see a clear path ahead.

It might feel like the biggest challenge or the toughest period of your life so far. That’s because divorce, property settlement and arrangements for your children are extremely personal. You might even be dealing with all three at once.

The outcome of your family law matter can have a big impact on your life.

That’s why it’s important to get it right — and that starts with sensible advice from a family law firm that makes the time to listen to your needs. Listening is the first critical step in us being able to negotiate hard on your behalf.

“People come to us as family law solicitors in many and varied headspaces,” says Alan Wright.

“Some people have long accepted the fact that the relationship’s over and they’re eager to get it over and done with, and move on. Then again, you might be in a complete state of shock and you don’t know what to do,” he says.

Alan is keen to point out that these days many people reach agreements without the burden of a complicated, expensive, stressful experience in the family law courts.

“I do like to see people being able to draw a line in the sand and move on,” says Alan.

“But you can only do that if you feel you’ve achieved a fair outcome… and negotiating that for you comes down to our expertise.”

How to minimise your stress

  • Make sure you choose the right family law firm for you and your situation. Choose a team you’re comfortable with and who are experts in this field, which is most easily shown by them being an Accredited Specialist in Family Law.
  • It’s important to have a relationship with your lawyer where you feel they are listening to you.
  • Your lawyer needs to give you sensible advice, even if sometimes the message isn’t exactly what you were hoping to hear.

“You need to have the sort of relationship with your solicitor that allows and respects that,” says Accredited Family Law Specialist Alan Wright.

For example, an expert in family law will be able to tell you the likely outcome of your matter.

Understanding the likely outcome of your case is so important.

If you’re going to mediation, it helps you decide what sort of offer to make or accept.

“You definitely don’t want to go to mediation and reject a proposal that turns out to be a reasonable proposal, then go to court and end up paying the other person’s legal costs,” says Alan.

Should you consider mediation?

Mediation is an increasingly popular option in family law matters. Especially in Newcastle, where there have been significant delays in family law court proceedings in recent years.

Many people see mediation as a better alternative to having their matter drag on for months or even years.

“I’m a big fan of mediation,” says Accredited Family Law Specialist Alan Wright.

“We find the act of getting everybody together in the one spot, wanting to settle it and concentrating on a fair outcome, works in most cases,” he says.

However, some cases don’t need mediation.

If yours is a simple property settlement, you probably don’t need to go to the expense of mediation because your family law solicitors should be able to resolve things by negotiating directly with the other party’s lawyers.

You might also be asked to consider a process called private arbitration, where a binding decision is made by a qualified arbitrator (or decision maker) outside of the family law court system. A binding decision means it must be adhered to by the parties involved.

As with mediation, delays in the family court system have led to private arbitration being an increasingly popular option.

By considering private arbitration or mediation, you might be able to settle your matter sooner rather than later — without the expense or stress of going to court.

When there are children involved

It’s obvious why parenting arrangements are likely to be the most stressful and complex aspect of your family law matter.

If you’re a parent, it’s likely your children mean the world to you.

Needless to say, it can be difficult to avoid stress. If one or the other party has issues such as drugs, alcohol, mental health or violence and they insist on something you don’t agree with, it can be extremely frustrating and upsetting.

“It’s a matter of being reasonable and trying to come to a sensible conclusion,” says our Accredited Family Law Specialist Alan Wright.

“It can be difficult if both people are wanting the children to primarily live with them,” he says.

“If it’s agreed that the children are primarily going to live with one parent and it’s a matter of sorting out how much time they have with another parent, mediation has a high degree of success in that situation,” says Alan.

When you are represented by our family law team at Catherine Henry Lawyers, you can be confident you’re getting advice from expert family law solicitors who have decades of experience in negotiating successful outcomes, in even the most challenging cases.

Property settlement: what to do

Have you separated from a relationship and now it’s time to think about ‘who gets what’?

  • The good news is that most of the time property settlements don’t need to become complicated.
  • The process will be much smoother if both parties promptly exchange their financial documents. So, keep this in mind as you prepare yourself for the negotiation.
  • Focus on getting sensible legal advice (and taking it!) and if necessary go to a private mediation to reach an agreement.
  • Be open to the fact that you may not get the outcome you completely want — but in most cases a reasonable settlement is better than going to court.

Keep in mind that if you go to court you would probably need to achieve a ‘Rolls Royce outcome’ to cover the extra legal costs. Remember, expert family law solicitors like our team at Catherine Henry Lawyers will be able to advise you on the likely outcome.

Property cases can become complicated for a couple of reasons. There might be a business involved and valuing the business is a complicated, expensive exercise. Maybe one person brought significant financial assets into the relationship or inherited a lot of money and there might be a disagreement about a percentage division. But you can tackle those by agreeing to the valuation, getting sensible advice then working hard to get an agreement at mediation.

Prefer a female lawyer?

If you’re more comfortable speaking to a female lawyer, you’ll be pleased to know the majority of our team are women, including our expert family law solicitors.

We know that some women prefer to consult other women professionals when it comes to personal issues such as family law or health law (where you might need advice from medical negligence solicitors).

As committed Newcastle lawyers we’re proud to provide a service that’s dedicated to womens legal issues. In fact, we represent women from around the Hunter region and all over NSW, and we’re a leading referral firm for other solicitors.

Choose the right family law firm for you

When you’re in the midst of a relationship breakdown or perhaps experiencing domestic violence, it can feel even more difficult to find a family law solicitor you can trust and who will listen.

Our expert family law solicitors at Catherine Henry Lawyers work hard — and negotiate hard — to get you the best possible result in your family law matter.

We’d love to hear from you and encourage you to contact us to discuss your situation on 1800 874 949.

Our Family Law Team


Alan Wright

Alan Wright

Special Counsel | BComms LLB Acc Spec (Family) | NMAS
Liza Stewart

Liza Stewart

Solicitor I BA LLB Grad Dip Leg Prac
Ashlea Taylor Web
Simone Schwartz
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