Laura Villemagne-Sánchez

Senior Associate

Laura is an accredited specialist in family law and a senior associate in Lander & Rogers' Melbourne office. She believes in empowering her clients with realistic and empathetic advice and achieving commercial outcomes to allow them and their families to move forward with their lives.

Laura is originally from Argentina, having also lived in the United States and Spain before moving to Australia. She is fluent in Spanish and is attuned to the cultural, emotional and financially complex aspects of family breakdown and post-separation parenting. She has a particular interest in international family law.

Laura also has specialist experience in surrogacy and fertility law, helping individuals and couples to grow their families and surrogates to achieve their altruistic goals. This includes drafting surrogacy agreements and obtaining substitute parentage orders in the County Court of Victoria and drafting donor agreements for intended parents and surrogates.

Laura is devoted to achieving tailored, cost-effective and timely results for her clients. She is passionate about obtaining the best possible outcomes through out-of-court settlement negotiations with individual and family support services and lawyer-assisted mediations. Where court is necessary, she is a trusted advocate for her clients, working with her network of experienced barristers to achieve her clients' desired outcomes.

Laura has been involved in the Victorian Family Law Pathways Network - Greater Melbourne since 2014, and has been Chair of the Steering Committee since 2022. In 2015, Laura achieved First Class Honours for her thesis on the 2012 legislative amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) - "Forcing a Square Peg in a Round Hole: How Discourses of Family Violence Reflect the Tension Between Shared Parenting & Protection from Harm". In 2020, she was a finalist in the Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Awards in the Rising Star of the Year Category (SME Law).


Laura's experience includes:

  • financial matters, including de facto relationships, complex trust and corporate structures, superannuation interests, tax considerations, injunctions and proceedings involving third parties
  • spousal maintenance
  • financial agreements
  • complex children and parenting matters, particularly interstate and international relocation and international child abduction (Hague Convention) and medical procedures (including gender dysphoria)
  • parentage, surrogacy and donor agreements
  • stepparent and adult child adoptions in the County Court of Victoria
  • child support and maintenance matters, including varying or objecting to administrative assessments through Services Australia (commonly called the Child Support Agency) and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, departure applications in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, adult child maintenance and child support agreements
  • intervention order and family violence matters
  • separation and divorce
  • enforcing, varying or setting aside final court orders
  • out-of-court settlements (lawyer facilitated negotiations, mediation and family dispute resolution)
  • LGBTQIA+ community related matters.

Career highlights

Laura's career highlights include:

  • carriage of appeal proceedings, including obtaining a favourable security for costs order and favourable appeal outcome
  • carriage of a matter to precedent judgment in relation to property entitlements and parenting matters in relation to the impact of family violence
  • mentoring high school students through the Big Brother & Big Sisters of Australia program and university students undertaking their law degrees.


What are the legal costs involved?

We offer both fixed fee and hourly based billing models. After meeting with you, we will discuss with you the most appropriate billing arrangement for your case. Your legal team will usually comprise a junior and senior lawyer, to ensure work is carried out in the most cost-effective way.

What are the ways to negotiate with my former partner? What if that does not work?

Where safe to do so, we often recommend having a conversation with your former partner after you have obtained legal advice. The key is to remain solutions-focussed and negotiate an outcome that is satisfactory to each of you.

Sometimes, when this does not work or you require the assistance of someone else, you can invite your former partner to participate in Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) or lawyer inclusive negotiations. FDR is generally for parenting matters and involves you and your former partner meeting with an independent third party who will assist with keeping your negotiations child-focussed.

Even if you are unable to reach an agreement during FDR, it is often a useful exercise in understanding where each of you stands and if there are any outstanding issues to resolve.

You can also engage a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf with your former partner or their lawyer. If an outcome isn't reached through direct negotiations, your lawyer may suggest convening a mediation. At mediation, you and your lawyers, your former partner and their lawyers meet with an independent third party and endeavour to reach a negotiated agreement. Many cases resolve at mediation.

What is the court process?

The start of the court process is like a triage station - at your first court date, the court will determine what needs to be done for your matter to progress. For example, the court may make orders for the exchange of financial disclosure, property valuations, or obtain expert evidence from therapeutic professionals. If there are any short-term issues that need to be determined, the court will list an Interim Defended Hearing to address those discrete matters, which is usually within the first three to five months of filing an application. The court aims to list final hearings, where a judge decides the outcome of your matter, within 12 months of the filing of a court application.

It is important to know that even if litigation has commenced in your matter, you can still negotiate an agreement with your former partner. The court process can help keep parties accountable and their matter progressing along a structured pathway.

Given the discretionary nature of court and associated expenses, Laura aims for her clients to reach out-of-court settlements. However, where the nature of the case calls for judicial intervention (e.g. urgency, risk issues), having a knowledgeable legal team is essential.

View more commonly-asked questions about the legal aspects of family and relationship law in Australia here.