John Spender

John is a partner of Kennedy Partners.  He is recognised throughout the Melbourne family law community as a leading family lawyer and has expertise in all areas of family law, including complex parenting and property disputes, financial and child support agreements, and international matters involving forum and jurisdictional disputes.

  • Biography

    John has been practising in family law since 1993.  After working in various firms, including a major eastern suburbs law firm in Melbourne, he joined Kennedy Wisewoulds (as the firm then was) in 2007, and became a partner of the firm in 2012.

    John has been an accredited family law specialist since 2003. He has been a member of various committees of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria since 2003 chairing the Maintenance and Property Sub Committee between 2011 and 2018 and the Courts Practice Committee between 2019 and 2022.. He was a sessional teacher and marker within the family law elective of the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice Course with the Australian National University between 2011 and 2016. He has been a sessional teacher and marker at Deakin University (teaching in family law and ethics) since 2021.

    John is regularly sought out by legal publications and continuing professional development (CPD) providers to contribute to the pool of discussions around the interpretation, and evolving nature, of the court’s approach to resolving family law disputes. He was a consulting editor as to family law precedents for LexisNexis between 2013 and 2015. In June 2019, John co-organised and presented at a family law conference in Malta, involving judicial officers, lawyers and psychologists from each of Malta, Australia and the United States.

    As part of John’s membership of committees of the Law Institute of Victoria, he has been involved in law reform. He was the principal author of a submission to the Victorian Attorney-General in 2004 advocating for the registration of same sex relationships, which legislation was enacted in 2008. Again, in 2015, he contributed significantly to a submission to the Commonwealth about proposed amendments to the law concerning financial agreements. By reason of his long involvement in and commitment to the family law community through such committee work, in May 2019 was honoured with a Certifcate of Service from the Law Institute of Victoria.

    John is well respected throughout the Melbourne family law community for his practice, knowledge, and approach to family law. Since 2016, John has been annually recognised by Doyle’s Guide to the Australian Legal Profession.

    John is a member of the Law Institute of Victoria, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. He has been a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers since 2015.

    In 2023, John received the Law Institute of Victoria’s most prestigious award, the “Distinguished Service Award”. The award recognises individuals who have provided significant and distinguished service of a high degree to the Law Institute and the legal profession over an extended period of time.

  • Expertise

    Throughout John’s career, he has been involved in working on complex family law litigation and has considerable experience in international family law matters.

    He has particular expertise in litigation involving international financial disputes. He has been successful in having Australia declared an appropriate forum to hear financial matters, even in circumstances where one party lived with the children in another country (White & Temple [2014] FamCA 396) and when neither spouse party lived in Australia. (See Costigan & Costigan & Ors [2017] FamCA 879).

    He has also been involved in successful international child support disputes, including seeking modification of international child maintenance or support judgments (see Attorney Generals Department & Sciacia [2017] FamCA 692) or else discharge of these (see Membrey & Hall [2019] FamCA 857).


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