Butlers News

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Who is a Parent??

Modern families come in all shapes and sizes. The traditional definition of who a ‘parent’ has been challenged by the increasing number of single-parent families, adoptive parents, surrogate parents and extended families.

Recent advances in medical science have complicated things further.  On 6 April 2016, the first child in the world with three parents was born. A Jordanian couple had been unable to start a family for 20 years, due to a rare genetic disorder carried by the mother. Doctors used a newly developed technique called Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy to implant the genetic material of a third person into the embryo, ensuring that the child did not receive the portions of the mother’s genetic material that could cause the disorder. Being the first child in the world born this way, the baby was dubbed the world’s first ‘three parent’ child.

But how many legal parents does the child born on 6 April 2016 have, and why would it matter?

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283 Hits

The deadline for applying for Children's living arrangements over Xmas is fast approaching!

For almost every family, Christmas is a happy but stressful time. Whether it is ensuring there are no gift double-ups, Santa’s true identity remains undiscovered, or that there are no pistachios in the salad as Aunty Laura’s allergic, chaos is an expected part of the end of the year.

When mum and dad are no longer together the co-ordination and logistics become even more challenging. And that’s when they are getting along!

When parents are embroiled in a Family Court dispute, how children spend their Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the lengthy summer school holidays often become issues which cannot be resolved by discussion alone.

Because so many estranged couples seek the assistance of the Court to determine how their children will celebrate the holidays and spend their school break, the Court has strict rules regarding such applications. This year, all applications seeking orders regarding children’s living arrangements for the 2018/2019 Christmas school holiday period must be filed before 4pm on Friday 9 November 2018.

However, with the current backlog at the Family Court, it is recommended that you file your application well in advance of any proposed holiday or additional time with the children. Once your application is filed, it may be 6 weeks (or more) before a Court Hearing is listed. Accordingly, any urgent applications should specifically state the urgency in a detailed, yet concise, covering letter. 

The Family Law Team at Butlers are experienced in preparing and filing such applications and are ready to help. Don’t leave it too late, contact us now!

 

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614 Hits

Part 3 - Family Violence Restraining Orders and Financial Issues

Hopefully, you have been keeping up to date with our previous blogs in relation to Family Violence Restraining Orders (“FVRO”).

If not, you can easily access them by clicking here.

This blog will be focused on FVRO’s and how they can affect financial issues.

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644 Hits

R U OK?

As a firm specialising in family law and wills and estate matters, we see the impact that separation, death and family disputes have on people of all walks of life, every day. There is a known link between serious life events such as these, having a substantial impact on personal wellbeing, often for prolonged periods of time.

These issues permeate our society and today, we would like to remind our clients and our wider network that it is okay to talk, and there are always avenues and people who are willing and able to help you.

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887 Hits

Relocation of children - to move or not to move

It is a common scenario here in Western Australia to hear of two parents from different continents. It’s likely you all know someone, or someone who knows someone from England, Ireland or Scotland who has moved over, settled down with an Australian and had a couple of kids. Let’s face it for a while there us pommes were taking over.

However, what happens when things go wrong and one parent decides to move home, with the child?

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917 Hits

Deadline looming - Orders regarding children’s living arrangements for Christmas!

Deadline - Did you know that the Family Court have a deadline for Orders regarding children’s living arrangements for Christmas?

For most every family, Christmas is a happy but also stressful time. Whether it is ensuring there are no gift double-ups, Santa’s true identity remains undiscovered, or that there are no pistachios in the salad as Aunty Laura’s allergic, chaos is a part and parcel of the end of the year.

When mum and dad are no longer together the co-ordination and logistics are even more challenging. And that’s when they are getting along.

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2328 Hits

Surveillance vs Snooping - The Fine Line...

Surveillance vs Snooping

Going through a separation has a way of making even the most private and intimate of affairs seem all of a sudden very public. Unfortunately, this exposure of personal details, coupled with an angry ex, can result in uncovering more than a few skeletons in the closet.

There are different ways of accessing private information and there are drastic differences between surveillance and snooping – one being legal, and one not. 

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2519 Hits

Leaving on a jet plane….don’t know if they’ll be back again…..

Leaving on a jet plane….don’t know if they’ll be back again…..

The notion of a stranger dragging your child from you off the street is a scary thought for any parent; but what if the person taking your child is their mother or father? Many separated parents wouldn’t ever consider the idea that their former spouse would take their child and leave the country; sadly this isn’t the case for all and many parents live in fear of this exact thing happening every day. I cannot count the number of times I have had to rush down to Court on a Friday afternoon to get an Injunction preventing a parent from removing a child from the country……it’s a lot.

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4189 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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5396 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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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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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6056 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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8635 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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3052 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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7612 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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4993 Hits

“I’m a sperm donor!” he said. “I’m a parent!” he said. WRONG.

“I’m a sperm donor!” he said. “I’m a parent!” he said. WRONG.

Well, at least for legal purposes, in Western Australia.

When it comes to matters of artificial conception, the Artificial Conception Act 1985 (WA) states the following:

  1. if a man provides genetic material to a woman, and that woman uses his genetic material to become pregnant via an artificial fertilisation procedure, then the man “shall be conclusively presumed not to have caused the pregnancy” and “is not the father of any child born as a result of the pregnancy”.
  2. if a “woman undergoes, with the consent of her de facto partner, an artificial fertilisation procedure in consequence of which she becomes pregnant… then the de facto partner of the pregnant woman, shall be conclusively presumed to be a parent of the unborn child” and “is a parent of any child born as a result of the pregnancy”.

I don’t know about you, but my first reaction is that that first part does not sit in accordance with what I learnt from Maury Povich.

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5821 Hits

World Mental Health Day - Recognition of Mental Illness in Family Law

It’s World Mental Health Day

On 10 October, millions of people around the world will take a moment to observe World Mental Health Day. A day which calls us to recognise and analyse the level of support we give to mental health issues, which, according to The Australian Bureau of Statistics, an estimated 45% of Australians experience in their lifetime.

Separation and divorce are among life’s most devastating and troubling experiences. Before someone has even digested the fact that they are separated from their former partner (let alone the consequences), they can be hurled into a Family Law storm of valuing and dividing assets, making long term decisions for their children, or attending Court hearings and building affidavit material that sets out, in intimate detail, their life with their former partner, which is being scrupulously analysed by lawyers and judges alike.

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International child abduction – how to recover your child if you’re not Liam Neeson and don’t have his “special skills”

International child abduction – how to recover your child if you’re not Liam Neeson and don’t have his “special skills”

Recently all the news stations have been reporting about a lady called Dorothy Lee Barnett. Now Dorothy looks like a nice lady, and I’m sure her southern-drawl is quite charming. But here’s the thing – Dorothy has now been extradited to the US facing a number of charges, including international parental kidnapping and passport related offences. Because, as it turns out, Dorothy told her ex that she was taking their baby daughter to a birthday party one day…and never came back.

I think it’s fair to say that in a very limited number of circumstances, you could understand why a parent may flee to another country with their child. For example, in cases of serious family violence, it’s not unreasonable that someone would think that their only option, and their child’s only option, is to escape overseas. However, in most cases, it’s just not on. In Dorothy’s case, her ex had already been awarded sole custody of their daughter. For her to have deprived her daughter of a relationship with her father for the past 20 years is, in my opinion, pretty deplorable.

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5823 Hits