John Spender-CBD on Bourke St

John Spender

LAWYER – FAMILY Kennedy Partners Lawyers

Personal Profile

Kennedy Partners Lawyers is a highly respected, boutique family law firm advising in  connection with all aspects of family and de facto relationship law. It is recognised by Doyle's Guide to the Australian Legal Profession as one of the leading family law firms in Australia.

The firm also has an international reputation. Three of the four partners (Ian Kennedy AM, Olivia Grobtuch and John Spender) are Fellows of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and are skilled in dealing with family law disputes which cross international boundaries.

The members of the firm use their superior knowledge of the law, and their effective negotiation skills, to:

  • Advise as to tactics and the best approach for clients going through this very difficult phase of their life, including, in an appropriate case, if the client is best served by proceeding in Australia or proceeding in another country;
  • Advise clients, where needed, in relation to prenuptial and pre-relationship agreements, and to prepare such agreements, to allow clients certainty if their marriages or relationships break down;
  • Mediate and resolve the dispute wherever legitimately possible to minimise costs and uncertainty for the clients and allow them to move on with their lives; and
  • If alternative dispute resolution fails, or is inappropriate, to represent clients with competence and skill in Court to achieve the best outcome for them. 

The reasons clients choose our firm:

Family law clients come to Kennedy Partners Lawyers because we provide and have available:

  • A high level of experience. The four partners, between them, have over 130 years of expertise;
  • Specifically, experience in the area of international family law (which very few other Melbourne family law firms can provide);
  • Sensitivity to clients going through this difficult time;
  • The ability to prepare proper pre-nuptial and pre-relationship agreements (not offered by all family law firms);
  • Excellent and well targeted legal advice;
  • A quick understanding and appreciation of the issues for the client and their available options;
  • A focus on resolution and an ability to achieve a superior outcome in negotiations;
  • The ability to represent the client with skill in Court; and
  • Respect for our firm from the family law bench.

The partners of the firm are also sought after regularly as speakers at continuing legal education events.

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Fresh Profile

  • The services I provide are:

    We can and do assist clients in the following ways:

    1. Drafting pre-marital and pre-relationship agreements (including agreements which can be valid and enforceable both in Australia and in another jurisdiction);
    2. Assisting clients with their divorce applications and representing them in relation to these;
    3. Assisting clients in relation to parenting disputes, including sensitive and difficult matters involving:
      1. Allegations of abuse or domestic violence;
      2. Matters where a child is apparently alienated from one parent;
      3. Applications by the parent to relocate the residence of the child away from Melbourne (including to locations interstate and overseas); and
      4. Abduction cases, where a child or children has been moved unilaterally by a parent to another location (often across international boundaries);
    4. Advising in relation to child support matters, including:
      1. Drafting child support agreements; and
      2. Acting in Court applications to confirm, modify or vary child support orders made in another country;
    5. Assisting clients in need of spousal maintenance as well as achieving the best outcomes for payers of such maintenance;
    6. Assisting clients with respect to division of property upon relationship or marital breakdown, including:
      1. Identifying, locating and valuing available assets (in Australia or overseas);
      2. Achieving injunctions to prevent the disposal or dissipation of assets; and
      3. Working with taxation and other advisers to ensure division of assets occurs in the most tax-effective manner;
    7. Assisting clients in obtaining an intervention order (or defending an application for such an order), in circumstances where there has been, or there is alleged to have been, domestic violence in the relationship;
    8. Advising clients, where appropriate, if they are better off proceeding with a case in Australia or another country (in conjunction with lawyers in that other country);
    9. Acting in forum disputes to determine if Australia should hear a particular matter; and
    10. Advising in relation to de facto relationship cases, including arguments as to whether such a relationship existed or not. 


  • How I can help Fresh members:

    I can assist Fresh members (or their contacts) for advice and assistance in circumstances where:

    1. A couple is commencing their relationship (particularly a second relationship) and wishes to protect assets they have each separately built up together;
    2. A person is unsure about his or her relationship, including whether it could amount to a de facto relationship, and the rights and obligations that might result from that;
    3. A client is contemplating ending his or her marriage or intimate relationship and wishes to know his or her rights, obligations and what should be expected, including how best to approach matters;
    4. The relationship or marriage of a client has broken down and she or he wishes to sort out parenting, property division, child support and/or spousal maintenance issues; and
    5. The parties have spent time overseas during their relationship or marriage, or the client or her or his former spouse or partner is from overseas, and the client wishes to know what difference that makes to their situation and their options.


  • The main business categories in my network are:
    1. Other lawyers (including, at times, other family lawyers), but also those who practice in other areas;
    2. Social workers and psychologists;
    3. Accountants;
    4. Financial planners; and
    5. Real estate agents (including vendor and buyer advocates)
  • My target market is:
    1. High net worth individuals;
    2. Individuals who may be income poor, but have considerable assets; but
    3. Kennedy Partners Lawyers also prides itself on assisting many clients in "average" circumstances. If a client's case is meritorious and/or raises a legal point of interest, we will do our best to accommodate the client with respect to legal costs and to assist.

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