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When is the Best Time to Call a Family Lawyer?

Disclaimer: This article provides general information explaining complex legal concepts. Please contact Butler McDermott Lawyers for individual legal advice. The names and events in the case studies in this article are fictional. The case studies are for informational purposes.

Feeling overwhelmed with your divorce or separation can make you freeze with worry – but the best family lawyers on the Sunshine Coast are here to help. There are many moments in your separation journey where you will need the guidance of your Butler McDermott lawyer. So, here are some examples of how we can help you through this process.

Before you have decided to separate…

After several months of indecision, Amy is still not sure whether she should leave her husband. He has made countless promises and attended multiple counselling sessions… but the relationship is still not better. Amy doesn’t feel like she can handle the consequences of a breakup. She doesn’t want to put her children through it all, not to mention the stresses of the current housing market. It just feels so overwhelming.

Is it too early to call a lawyer before separation?

It is never too early.

Separation is not as simple as moving away. Separation affects who lives in the marital home, children, and property. Butler McDermott Lawyers can help Amy sort out her finances to prepare for her separation and give legal advice. We can also help make this transition as smooth as possible by giving practical advice on what to do with her property and children before she leaves. This is an important step to protect her and her assets in the future. We want to help reduce the stress on her, the children, and her ex-partner.

As your lawyers, we are here to guide you and offer advice – we will not try to convince you one way or another. You instruct your lawyers, we do not instruct you. Everything is your own decision.

The best family lawyers will make sure you understand all your options. We are honest and will show you what the realistic outcomes may be and how you can navigate those roads. With all the legal jargon and financial stress amongst the emotions, it can be so painful and overwhelming – but there is hope even in this situation.

You have choice and power in this situation. To us, it’s not just another legal case, it’s about how we can help you take the next step.

When you’ve decided to divorce

After some time rattling along the rocky road of their marriage, Chris and Mel have decided to end their ten-year marriage. Things have bubbled to the point of anger and overwhelm. There is a lot of tension between them, especially when it comes to their home and their young child.

What can Butler McDermott Lawyers do for them?

As their lawyers, Butler McDermott will advise Chris and Mel of the best steps to keep the house as well as the financial implications of fighting for the house. There are both financial and emotional costs to taking this matter to Court. The nature of the Court can feel adversarial and there are only so many solutions the Court can give; they can’t just cut a house straight down the middle.

We will show that there are more options than going to Court. We can help prepare a Separation Agreement. Agreements like this and Pre-Nuptial Agreements are called Binding Financial Agreements (BFA). They outline division of property if you decide to end your relationship.

You can also organise a Consent Order which has less of a structure than a BFA, where you can apply to make your parenting plan legally binding.

Coming to an agreement is not always smooth and tensions can rise. Sometimes a mediation, also known as family dispute resolution, will be necessary. A mediator will facilitate a negotiation between the parties to even the playing field and make sure everyone is heard.

These alternative options involve a lot more negotiation and creativity to find a mutual agreement that satisfies both parties as much as possible. The best lawyers know that there can be complicated family situations that affect your legal stance on the family home – advising with all the facts is at foremost importance. Some lawyers can be overly optimistic without considering the real consequences.

After you’ve signed the paperwork…

Thomas knows he made some mistakes in his marriage and just wanted to make things right. In hopes of pleasing his ex-partner, he signed a Property Settlement, Consent Order and Parenting Agreement that were not in his favour. Unfortunately, Thomas and his ex-partner did not reconcile their marriage and now Thomas feels that he is stuck in an unfair contract he is financially bound by.

Is it too late to call a lawyer?

A lawyer can still help find a way for Thomas to right some of these inequalities. Butler McDermott can help him find which of the documents he signed were legally binding and whether the Court can review the agreements. For example, the Court can still reject Consent Orders even if both parties agree. We can also help go about re-negotiating these agreements and rewrite the documents.

The best lawyers will also advise you on what you should have done in this situation so you can understand your current position. We aim to keep you prepared for the future with proactive advice as well as trying to find legal avenues for undoing past mistakes.

After your ex-partner breaks Court orders…

Emma has been chasing her ex-husband for child support payments for months now. He has not been following their child custody arrangement. He alleges that he has lost a lot of income, but there seems to be a lot of evidence against his claims. Emma has already agreed to the short end of the stick when it came to their property settlement – now she’s coming to her wits’ end.

Is there anything a lawyer can do for her?

Butler McDermott can advise Emma on the options to enforce parenting, property, and child maintenance orders. There are options for recovering payments both within the Court and outside the Court – and we can help find the best option for you. There can be consequences of deductions by his bank or employer, travel bans, monetary penalties, and even persecution.

When you’re looking for the best family lawyers, Sunshine Coast residents should choose a law firm that will go above and beyond for you. Butler McDermott can help. We will recommend a forensic audit to determine your ex-partner’s actual income, prove that those child support payments need to be paid, and seek remedy.

The best time to call in a family lawyer is any step in your separation or divorce – including before you even make a single decision. The best lawyers for you will be found at Butler McDermott, we hold the top standard on the Sunshine Coast.

Butler McDermott is here for you, contact us today.

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Peter Boyce


Peter has been practising as a Nambour Solicitor since 1977 and joined Butler McDermott Lawyers the same year.

With over 40 years practicing as a Sunshine Coast lawyer, Peter has extensive knowledge of various facets of law.

He has practised in all areas of litigation and has special interests in:

  • Criminal law
  • Civil and Commercial litigation
  • Retirement Village matters
  • Sports law
  • Resumption of land and compensation claims


Peter has specialised knowledge of and experience with resumption matters as a result of the Traveston Dam project, road corridors, Main Roads and water pipeline. He is renowned for his professional approach and is an experienced and determined advocate.

Brent King


Brent works as a litigation lawyer, providing litigation legal advice in relation to both civil and criminal law matters, including:
  • Defamation Claims
  • Contract and Debt Disputes
  • Building and Construction Disputes
  • Planning Matters
  • Criminal Law and Traffic Legal Matters
Having grown up on the Sunshine Coast and joining Butler McDermott after the completion of his studies, Brent appreciates the needs of our clients, and brings a particularly commercial approach to litigation. Brent is a member of the Queensland Law Society and the Sunshine Coast Law Association, and has litigated a wide variety of matters in the Magistrates, District and Supreme Courts.

Al Upton


After arriving at Butler McDermott Lawyers in 2016, Al quickly progressed to running our Wills and Estates section and has successfully litigated disputes in the Supreme and District Courts of Queensland in the early stages of his career.

In the years that followed Al has now moved to assist our clients with commercial and property matters having achieved positive outcomes in that area as well as general litigation. Al’s experience has him uniquely placed to provide quality advice in the areas of property, commercial, wills and estates and general litigation.

Al is involved in giving back to the community, sitting on the board for the Daniel Morcombe Foundation and Sundale Community Foundation. He otherwise became a director of Butler McDermott Lawyers in November 2021.