Attwood Marshall Lawyers Family Law Associate Emily Edmonds discusses the latest celebrity break-up and the positive example this has set for couples considering divorce.
After 27 years, one of Australia’s most solid celebrity couples has announced they are going their separate ways.
News broke in September 2023 about Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness separating. In the same way they have presented to the public over the past three decades, the announcement of their separation was made with mutual respect and admiration, with the pair stating, “We have been blessed to share almost three decades as husband and wife in a wonderful, loving marriage. Our journey now is shifting, and we have decided to separate to pursue our individual growth”.
Jackman and Furness started dating in 1995 after meeting on the set of the Australian TV series Correlli.
Despite concerns over the 13-year age gap, Jackman has always consistently gushed over his wife publicly.
Jackman has provided insight into why the relationship ended, acknowledging that the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 strained their relationship. They put the work in to get their relationship back on track, however, the Hollywood writer’s strikes earlier this year also had an impact, further straining the relationship.
Despite the separation, the two celebrities have maintained a constructive outlook under the public eye, never speaking negatively of one another and setting a valuable example for celebrity couples thrust into the spotlight when dealing with sensitive, personal matters, such as divorce and separation.
In contrast, there is no shortage of news headlines of Hollywood’s “ugliest” divorces, including the very public divorce of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, complete with defamation litigation and domestic violence accusations.
More recently, the divorce of Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner received public attention as the pair filed for divorce and aired personal grievances about Baumgartner accessing Costner’s bank accounts, the demand for child support, and disputes over their prenup.
Although the average person won’t necessarily garner the same attention as a celebrity couple when they face separation, similar attention can still be attracted from well-meaning family and friends who want to offer their opinion or create more conflict.
Reflecting on the more volatile celebrity divorces, Jackman and Furness stand tall, showing Hollywood and the rest of the world how amicable separation is done.
Separation – what comes next?
People can decide to separate for any number of reasons. When people think of family law matters, they think of bitter, drawn-out arguments and legal costs in the tens of thousands of dollars. This is not, however, how family law matters need to run.
When separating, there are specific issues couples need to agree about, even before drawing up divorce papers. The main issues usually revolve around property and children.
Although couples who separate amicably may find it easy to come to an agreement about who will keep what and who will move out of the family home, for example, it is still essential to formalise any arrangements in a legally binding way under the Family Law Act.
Some couples may come to a property settlement arrangement informally; however, this is not recommended. Whether your split is amicable or not, you can protect yourself against several risks by formalising the settlement. There are also tax advantages, such as the benefit of stamp duty exemptions where property is transferred between parties as part of the settlement terms.
The financial impact of separation can be devastating, and it is important to ensure that any arrangements are fair for both parties. There is no set formula for how property should be divided following a separation (despite the common misconception that a property settlement should split everything 50/50).
Generally, to determine a property settlement, you must identify and value the property owned by both parties, evaluate each party’s contributions, assess both parties’ future needs, and ensure the division is just and equitable.
We have previously written about the financial impact for older couples who divorce, with reports finding that, on average, divorce negatively impacts the income of older age groups. Older divorcees are much more likely to experience material hardships, which must be considered when determining how to divide property and if there is a need for spousal support to be paid by one party to the other as part of the property settlement.
As for parenting arrangements, parents can formalise an agreement in several ways without it being argued in court.
For couples who split amicably, a parenting plan offers flexibility to set out arrangements semi-formally. This type of plan can outline who the children will live with, when they will spend time with each parent, how often they will communicate with each parent, by what method, and whether parental responsibility is to be shared or allocated to one parent.
A parenting plan is completed in writing and must be signed and dated by both parties. It is not a legally enforceable document; therefore, if one parent does not uphold their end of the agreement, it can lead to disputes, which may then proceed to Court. A Court will look at the substance of a parenting plan and consider the arrangements agreed to by the parents when deciding what parenting order to make should a parenting dispute arise.
Legal guidance to finalise separation and divorce
Seeking advice from an experienced family lawyer when going through a separation, even when the split is amicable, can be incredibly beneficial in settling property and parenting matters.
While an amicable separation may involve fewer conflicts and disagreements, it’s essential to ensure that both parties’ interests and rights are protected and that the agreement is legally sound.
A family lawyer can help you navigate this complex area of law and ensure that any agreements made comply with all applicable legal requirements. They can also offer objective advice, helping you make an informed decision.
A family lawyer can also anticipate any future potential issues that may arise and help prevent future disputes from arising.
In an amicable separation, the ultimate goal is to part ways with little stress and to maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship if there are dependent children. By seeking advice from an experienced family lawyer, you can ensure that your agreements reflect your wishes, protect your rights, and provide a strong foundation for a positive post-separation life.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers – supporting you when your relationship breaks down
At Attwood Marshall Lawyers, we have a dedicated team of family lawyers who practice exclusively in this complex area of law. Our team works to reduce any conflict that arises throughout the divorce process and help you deal with all aspects that must be finalised upon separation.
If you need legal help with a family law matter, please get in touch with our Family Law Department Manager Donna Tolley on direct line 07 5506 8241, email email@example.com or free call 1800 621 071 any time.