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What is an Accredited Family Law Specialist?

An Accredited Family Law Specialist has achieved formal recognition of practised legal excellence, has worked in this area of law for at least five years, and has completed a rigorous examination program while demonstrating high levels of professional development and ongoing training in this specific field.

By working with an Accredited Family Law Specialist, you can expect the highest standard of legal services, advice, representation, and the best chance of a positive outcome in your legal matter.

Jenny Hamilton and Louise Sawtell are both Queensland Law Society Accredited Family Law Specialists, Independent Children’s Lawyers, and Australian National Accredited Mediators.

Jenny, the company’s namesake, has more than three decades of experience in all areas of law, specialising in family and children’s law. She has amassed a wealth of experience in mediation, and she is also an accredited Arbitrator.

Both Jenny and Louise also hold memberships with AIFLAM.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration allows parties to present arguments and evidence to an Arbitrator who makes a determination to resolve a dispute. It’s similar to a court process but doesn’t require the same level of formality.

The arbitration can be held at a time and place agreed between the parties and the Arbitrator. This also avoids delays that may be experienced with formal Court proceedings. The parties are also able to choose an Arbitrator in whom they have confidence.

Arbitration is limited to financial matters such as a property settlement, spousal maintenance and financial agreements. Matters involving children and custody arrangements, is something that is not able to be settled using arbitration.

Jenny Hamilton is a nationally accredited Family Law Arbitrator and has successfully delivered positive solutions through the arbitration process.

Why is Mediation a good alternative solution

Mediation involves an independent third party assisting each party to reach a mutual agreement. Mediators use skills and techniques to help each party find solutions that best serve their goals and interests.

Mediation provides an alternative solution to pursuing formal Court proceedings and litigation, saving all parties time and money and via this process, matters can usually be settled quickly.

Mediation directly engages the disputing parties in the negotiation of their settlement. It gives parties much more control over the way their dispute or difference is dealt with.

Both Jenny Hamilton and Louise Sawtell are Australian National Accredited Mediators.

With more than three decades of mediation experience, Jenny has earned a reputation as a respected and highly-skilled mediator; carving a path for Louise, and other members of the J. Hamilton & Associates team to follow.

What should I bring to my first appointment?

It’s always best to do a little preparation before you come to see us.

Bring along copies of all documents you think are relevant to you and your partner/husband’s financial circumstances, such as:

  • Your income details
  • Tax returns
  • Evidence of superannuation entitlements
  • Bank statements for any and all accounts you have an interest in

It’s also helpful to bring along your basic identification details such as your driver’s licence, passport, Medicare card and registered copies of your birth, marriage, divorce, change of name and even your children’s birth certificates.

Proof of your address is also helpful so bring along an electricity bill or your licence to enable proof of residence.

Should I obtain valuations of property?

We can work that out once we have met with you and understand your needs and what you’re hoping to achieve.

It’s always best to wait to discuss with your solicitor when and how to engage an expert valuer however appraisals of property are usually an inexpensive and efficient way of valuing real estate.

Again, though, you don’t need to make any decisions on that now. We can work through that together.

How do we value motor vehicles?

Just like with your home, it is best to wait and discuss the details about valuing motor vehicles and other assets with your solicitor.

There are so many variables and factors involved that it is always best to sit down and discuss this first so you – and we – understand your particular situation and needs.

Can I move to another town with the children?

Parents know it is always the best interest of the child that must come first – whatever the situation. And matters around the location and living arrangements of a child always take that into consideration.

We do not recommend you move town with your children without the consent of the other parent. If relocation away from another parent is a possibility, it is best to reach a suitable agreement and consult with your solicitor.

What is spousal maintenance and how do I know if I am eligible?

If you don’t have an income at the time of separation it may be that you’re entitled to spousal maintenance.

So often people leaving a marriage or a relationship are unaware of their entitlements. Worse, many women have felt forced to stay in sometimes dangerous relationships because they lacked the financial means to leave.

That doesn’t have to be the case. Spousal maintenance is completely separate from child maintenance and applies to someone who relied upon, and was financially supported by their partner or spouse.

We can sit down with you and work out what your entitlements and responsibilities are and what the next steps might be in your individual situation.

How do I navigate my way through social media at a time like this?

Social media can be great for connection if you are going through a difficult time and feel isolated. But be cautious!
Everything you post, share, comment on or engage is essentially considered to be public, so if anyone other than you can see something, then it could be used against you.

We recommend that you don’t post rude, aggressive comments on social media about your former partner or husband as it only adds to existing tensions. It can also be damaging to you in later proceedings.

Abusive, nasty, potentially defamatory and threatening content posted on social media can be regarded as emotionally and psychologically abusive. As such, especially in cases of domestic violence, this kind of conduct can become damaging if going before a court.

Similarly, if you are the target of malicious, threatening or abusive social media behaviour, we can talk you through your options and pathways to ensure you are safe and empowered.

Our Team


J. Hamilton & Associates was established in 1984 and has been delivering quality legal services to Queensland, particularly the Mackay community, since that time.

Our team comprises Solicitors admitted to all Courts in Queensland and the High Court of Australia, who are Nationally Accredited Mediators, Arbitrators, Queensland Law Society Accredited Family Law specialists and Independent Children’s Lawyers. We undertake professional development and training regularly to ensure we maintain the highest standard of legal services.

We are a small firm passionate about providing an exceptional level of service that is focused on the needs of our clients.