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Do I Really Need Family Court Orders?

Separating from a partner can be daunting and often people do not know the necessary steps to take when they are trying to navigate the separation of assets, and making arrangements for their children.

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Defacto relationships - Common Misconceptions Part 1

One question that lawyers often find unmarried people ask outside of work is “if we broke up, would he/she be able to make a claim on my assets?”

This answer to this question comes down to whether or not you are in a de facto relationship. Unfortunately, that is not always as cut and dry as it may seem and the topic carries with it a lot of misconceptions. The main one being that there is no set timeframe from which you can definitely say that you are in a de facto relationship. Rather, the legislation simply indicates that you are in a de facto relationship if you are not married, and you live together in a marriage-like relationship. Understandably, what one person considers to be “marriage-like” may be vastly different to what another considers that to be.

So at what point are you in a de facto relationship? Have you been unwittingly in one without even knowing it?

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Same sex laws - what does this mean for Family Law?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would be aware that late last year, the Marriage Act was amended to change the legal definition of marriage from being a “union of a man and a woman” to a “union of two people”. On the face of it, this seems like a fairly simple change. 

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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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