Butlers News

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The law doesn't care if you're separated but not yet divorced... How your ex can end up with your money after you're long gone..

 

A relationship breakdown is one of the most traumatic things you’ll ever have to deal with in your life. Life as you know it is tossed completely upside down, and not only do you have to grieve the loss of the relationship, but you probably have to move, open new bank accounts, learn where everything is in a new supermarket, and sometimes even stop seeing some of your friends because your former partner got them in the split. While you’re sorting through 3 years’ worth of bank statements and trying to get your ex to agree that the kids can stay with you until 2.00pm on Christmas Day instead of 1.00pm, it might not feel like there’s much time to get your head around anything else.

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3787 Hits

The Family Court - A System in Crisis

One of the most frequently asked questions by people who have ever filed anything at the Family Court is ‘what’s the hold up?’.

The Family Court process is a slow one, and there are delays across the board - from the ‘simpler’ matters such as divorces, to litigated matters that are heading towards a trial. Divorce hearings currently have a wait-time of about three months. Similarly, it is not uncommon for litigated matters to run for 18 months to 2 years before the trial itself. Tack on another 6 months for the decision to be handed down once the trial has been completed, and you can understand the frustration, with people often feeling like their lives are ‘on hold’ pending the final outcome.

So, what’s the hold up?

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4075 Hits

One Day…Every Day

One Day…Every Day

By the time this blog has been posted “on the line” (thank you Vince Vaughan) the 25th of November will have well and truly been gone.

Why is that day so important you ask? It’s White Ribbon Day, the National Day to stop Men’s Violence against Women.

You know, when I sit back and think about this I’m almost dumbfounded. We’re about to roll into 2016 and Domestic Violence amongst both women and men continues to be an issue. Let’s see, we’ve legalised gay marriage in some countries, equal pay for men and women is being championed by many, women are being considered (and are given) jobs which were only once reserved for men, and for God’s sake they have even legalised marijuana in 2 states in America.

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5339 Hits

Expert Evidence - You’ve got an opinion? Are you sure about that?

You’ve got an opinion? Are you sure about that?

Are you an expert?

If I had a dollar for every time that someone told us here at Butlers, “I think my ex has bi-polar” or “He definitely has narcissistic tendencies. I Googled it and he absolutely fits the description” or “I am telling you, she has OCD. I am sure of it. She just hasn’t been diagnosed yet” or something along those lines, I probably wouldn’t need to be working so much.

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5069 Hits

Does domestic violence matter in a property settlement case?

 

Does domestic violence make a difference in a property settlement case?

In September this year, our Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull announced a $41 million pledge to tackle domestic violence in Australia. What a great step forward. Thanks, Malcom. The issue of domestic violence in Australia is finally getting some much needed attention and hopefully our Prime Minister’s pledge will go a long way towards advising and assisting victims, and educating the nation to the point where DV becomes “un-Australian”.

What about domestic violence in a family law context though?

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4935 Hits

Let’s get digital - who owns what?

Let’s get digital

Today, I went onto a social media website, and saw a photo I just had to share. I took a screen cap of the photo, and texted it straight on to a friend.

Sound familiar?

The technology that’s become a magical part of our daily routines didn’t even register in Marty McFly’s wildest dreams. If you had told the pre-teen me that one day I’d be able to take a photo, view it, and share it with 500-odd “friends” all within about two and a half minutes, or that I could spend my days doing nothing but watching videos of cats on my phone, I probably would’ve laughed in your face – and not just because I don’t think anyone actually has 500 friends. But, somehow, this is exactly the crazy world in which we live.

 

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6210 Hits

Viva Voce is not a Ricky Martin song

Viva Voce is not a Ricky Martin song

A wise man once said to me that the best lawyers can take the most incredibly complex legal issues and explain them in simple, understandable terms. There’s a lot to be said for that. It’s not necessarily about breaking it down for other people for fear of a lack of understanding – it goes to the understanding and skill of the lawyer, which ultimately reduces the magnitude of the issues, paving the way to resolution.

So what of these legal maxims and jargon which people love to throw about from time to time? Prima facie this, viva voce that… Or my personal favourite – mens rea. Am I talking about an element of a crime, or someone’s backside?

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3820 Hits

The Conference

The Conference

While the title sounds like something John Grisham would write, I can assure it is nothing of the sort.

In fact, I will tell you right now, if you’re expecting intriguing characters with deep rooted unresolved issues, or cliff hangers, you won’t find it here.

The Conference I’m referring to is the Conciliation Conference, which is an initiative of the Family Court as a form of Alternate Dispute Resolution.

I think every now and then it’s important that people are aware of the various processes and steps in the Family Law process.

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4095 Hits

"Everything is divided 50/50, right?"

“Everything is divided 50/50, right?”

If I had a penny for every time that question was asked, or if that statement was true, I probably wouldn’t be working. Where did this myth start and why is it still floating around? Is it something that is just assumed by virtue of being in a couple?

Anyway, FYI the answer is NO; and neither is 50/50 the starting point.

Unfortunately, it appears this guy understood this common myth to be gospel and literally divided everything in half before obtaining some family law advice:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3129366/I-ve-left-half-Spurned-boyfriend-chops-owns-two-splitting-girlfriend-including-car-TV-iPhone.html

Lucky there weren’t any kids involved.

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5533 Hits

IN CHILDREN WE TRUST

IN CHILDREN WE TRUST

I am now a grandfather and have been practising in Family Law for almost 30 years. Recently I read a poem written by my 15 year old nephew. Isaac brought home to me the true perspective of life through a young person’s eyes.

The reason it had such an effect on me was because it highlighted just how important it is to listen to and appreciate our children’s perspective of emotional situations.

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3989 Hits

Help! I’m about to be cross-examined in a Trial! What should I know and what do I do?!

Help! I’m about to be cross-examined in a Trial! What should I know and what do I do?!

Being called to give evidence in court is stressful. Here are some tips which we think are important for you to know:

  • Dress appropriately: Don’t wear Louboutin heels or an expensive Brioni suit in an attempt to convey that you’re rich and powerful. Likewise, don’t turn up in unwashed rags in an effort to convey that you’re poor (and so you really need all the money you can get). Neither do you have to dress as though you’re part of the Amish culture if you’re trying to convey that you are conservative and caring. You are not a character, you are you and you are involved in this case. The clothes you wear should not be distracting; they should be comfortable and should simply convey that you consider this an important matter and that you have respect for the court.Men should wear a shirt with a collar and pants. No jeans, t-shirts or sunglasses on the head – this is not casual Friday and you are not at the pub. Women should wear dress shirts and pants or skirts or dresses. When I say dresses, I mean modest dresses. What works for you on a Saturday night out on the town will not work the same way for you in court. Avoid too much make-up and heavy perfume – actually, I think that one is just a general life rule.

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7458 Hits

Grandparents and child access

The Family Law Act states that children have a right to spend time on a regular basis with, and communicate on a regular basis with, both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development including grandparents. Since the grandchildren obviously aren’t in a position to enforce that right and if the parents are not facilitating the contact with the grandparents, it will be up to the grandparent to take action to do so. But don’t just sit there and hope for the best- the longer you leave it, the weaker your case gets.

The first step is to attempt to resolve the matter by way of Mediation with a qualified Family Dispute Resolution mediator. If the Mediation is not successful, then unfortunately you may have little option but to commence Family Court proceedings.

To succeed in the Family Court, the grandparents must satisfy the court that they are significant adults in the lives of the grandchildren and that such time would be beneficial. The court will consider:

The likely effect of any changes in the child’s circumstances, including the likely effect on the child of any separation from any grandparent with whom they have been living.The capacity of any other person, including any grandparent, to provide for the needs of the child, including emotional and intellectual needs.

In many cases well-meaning grandparents who make such an application to the courts come up against vigorous opposition from the parents of the children in question. There are many reasons for such opposition but alcohol, abuse, drug addiction, family & domestic violence and poor relations between the grandparents and their own children (the parents of the grandchildren) are often at least partially to blame.

If it can be shown that the grandparents have historically been involved in the life of the grand-children, the Court will be inclined to allow the grandparent to continue this relationship despite the breakdown of the parent’s relationship and their subsequent refusal to let the grandchildren spend time with the grandparents.

If you’re not sure what your options are, don’t rely on Heather down the road for advice - make sure you see a lawyer who actually knows what they’re talking about. Little birdies generally cause more problems than not, so set up your case properly from the beginning.

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4268 Hits

Facebook and Twitter and…Court - OH NO!

Facebook and Twitter and…Court - OH NO!

When the Facebook craze was in full effect I told myself I would never get an account. The way I saw it was why would I want to be “friends” with someone who I knew in grade 2, where our interaction was solely playing Lego together, and now all of a sudden some 20 years later he thinks that we’re old mates.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a Facebook account. I primarily use it to keep in touch with family and friends overseas and to share my frustration or delight in anything that happens in sport i.e. my New England Patriots winning the Super Bowl this year – Go Pats!

However I’m often both shocked and appalled at the things people post on Facebook these days. It’s incredible what happens when some people get behind a keyboard. While I understand Facebook and other social media outlets are platforms for people to opine about their thoughts, ideas, views and even what they ate for dinner, it is important to be mindful of what you post on the internet, including and especially social media sites.

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5732 Hits

Mediate! How? I don’t trust the Bastard!!!

Mediate! How? I don’t trust the Bastard!!!

Mediation is not about trust but more about understanding betrayal.

Relationships, whether it be in our personal life or our employment and business activities; when it all goes south, how do we approach resolution when we are feeling so hurt and vengeful? How can we get what we consider to be a just result in the circumstances?

Emotional stress erodes our being until we self-doubt and our self-respect seems to be travelling on a different bus. Some of us urge Karma to find the solution. Some bargain with God and/or a less pure entity, but at the end of the day we want it over: EXCISED FROM OUR LIVES; BUT HOW?

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8318 Hits

Unfair dismissal – Finding your way through the maze!

There is a safety net for small business of less than 15 employees, where if they conform to special rules they can avoid a potential unfair dismissal claim. Most claims are covered by the federal Fairwork Act and therefore are determined by the Fair Work Commission. However there are exceptions such as unincorporated businesses and other entities that may have their claims determined under state law and in the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission. It is important to find out which forum to file your claim as each have their own specific rules. For example, any potential unfair dismissal application filed in the Fairwork Commission must be filed within 21 days of the dismissal. If the application is to the WA Industrial Relations Commission then the time limit is 28 days.

Other rules need to be considered. For example for a federal unfair dismissal claim you must have worked with your employer for at least 6 months if that employer has more than 15 employees or 12 months if less than 15 employees. You must earn less than $133,000 per annum (as of 1 July 2014) or be covered by an award or workplace agreement.

If you feel that you have been dismissed unfairly or are a business and have had an unfair dismissal or any other claim being made against you then like a marriage separation, you should obtain legal advice to ensure the separation is fair for all concerned.

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10604 Hits

Love is Patient - Love is Kind - But are we?

In relation to same-sex marriage, we continue to lag behind the rest of the world. Behind 20 countries in fact. Take the United States for example. Out of 50 States, 37 have legalised same-sex marriage. That’s 74%of the whole country, including Alabama. I’m talking about a Bible Belt State that continues to recognise marriages between first cousins, and Australia’s worried about the gays? What are we afraid of? That a union between Mr & Mr, or Mrs & Mrs, will destroy the sanctity of marriage? Given the current divorce rate, I really don’t think there’s any danger of that happening.  

Despite our reluctance to join the rest of the world, there has been some fairly significant progress made in terms of recognising same-sex relationships within our legal system. In November 2008, Federal Parliament passed a same-sex law reform package, which prompted changes to 85 Commonwealth Acts, removing differential treatment of same-sex couples and their children across a number of areas of law. In terms of the changes within Family Law, all States and Territories now recognise that a de facto relationship can exist between two people of the same sex, and that same-sex de facto couples have the same Family Law rights as heterosexual de facto couples.

In relation to that ad which was strategically aired during the Mardi Gras last Saturday. Dear Australian Marriage Forum, the dark ages called - they want their ignorance back. 

First off, that’s a mighty fine looking high horse you've got there.

Secondly, I refer to your comments in relation to marriage equality forcing a child to ‘miss out on a mother or a father’. From a Family Law perspective, I can assure you that having a mother and father by no means precludes a child from an unfortunate and difficult upbringing. I’m confident in saying that I honestly don’t believe that any of my counterparts would disagree with me on that one - regrettably, sometimes we see mothers and/or fathers at their worst.

Thirdly, your comments are not only an affront the gay community – they also offend all those families out there who don’t fit the nuclear mould. For example, single parent families, and families in which grandparents are raising their grandchildren because for one reason or another, the child’s parents are unable to parent.

Finally, I draw your attention to Section 60CA of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). In making parenting Orders, the Family Court is bound by ‘the paramountcy principle’. This means that in making a parenting Order, ‘a Court must regard the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration’. In making this determination, the Court must contemplate as a primary consideration the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of its parents. The definition of ‘parent’ goes beyond biological, and can relate to adoptive parents. No mention of gender, no requirement for ‘parents’ to be of heterosexual persuasion. Methinks there may be something in that. 

A nuclear family structure is not a guarantee for a happy family. A happy family is a guarantee of a happy family - it’s as simple as that. Single parent, same-sex parents, blended families, married couples, de facto couples – no particular family structure has the monopoly in the happy-and-well-adjusted stakes.

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1716 Hits

Living apart, together!

You may be forced to live separately by choice or by necessity including maintaining separate residences. You may have many reasons for doing this including work availability, care of elderly family relatives in another city or country or to support adult children as they pursue university and career opportunities far afield.

However, if you live separately from your partner, are you still in a relationship and what should happen if you break up? What happens if you have drifted apart?

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2826 Hits

Won’t somebody please think of the children

Won’t somebody please think of the children

Going through a separation is a pretty awful experience, and it’s not something I can try to sugar-coat. It’s even worse when you have kids; they didn’t ask for any of this, they’re just dragged along for the ride.

So how do you protect your kids from the perils and pitfalls of separation? Here are some basic rules:

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7380 Hits

The To Do's Before the I Do's

THE TO DO’S BEFORE THE I DO’S

Marriage is about more than just the loving union of two people—it’s also about the union of financial assets and liabilities, and families. Or, as some like to say, it’s about halving your rights and doubling your duties.

There are good reasons why you should consider signing a Financial Agreement before you marry or commit yourself to a de-facto relationship. However, not everyone needs a Financial Agreement. Quite apart from the legal issues (which you can discuss with a solicitor), the answer to this question will depend on a number of practical considerations, as follows:

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4853 Hits

Navigating the Family Court

Navigating the Family Court

The Family Court of Western Australia is not the sort of place anyone wants to end up in. However, in some matters, it is unfortunately unavoidable. Should you ever find yourself parking under the Perth Concert Hall, and the only show you’re going to see is your life played out publically in front of you (and your ex-partner and respective Solicitors with front row seats), here are a few hints that may make a pretty tough situation a little easier:

Security Check: When you enter the Court, you will be required to walk through a metal detector, and your belongings will be run through a scanner machine, a la the Airport. I’ve seen the security guards confiscate all sorts of sharp metal objects, so leave these at home. I’m sure that whoever penned the The Little Book of Calm would tell you to also take the opportunity to close your eyes, and pretend that you are about to board a plane to some exotic location. No judgment - whatever works for you.

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4792 Hits