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COVIDSafe – Are you?

In the first 24 hours of its launch, the Australian Government’s COVIDSafe Application was downloaded by more than 2 million users. 
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Reconciliation and what it means in Family Law - Part 3


Following the first 2 Parts of our Reconciliation Series, this blog now explores the impact of reconciliation and divorce. 
Firstly and most importantly, where parties were married for less than 2 years, section 44(1B) of the Family Law Act requires them to “have considered a reconciliation” with the assistance of a specified person or organisation prior to applying for a divorce.
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Reconciliation and what it means in Family Law - Part 2


Hopefully you have read Part 1 of our Reconciliation Series, which explains the court’s obligation to consider the possibility of parties reconciling.  If the court considers that there is a reasonable possibility, it may adjourn the proceedings so that the parties may explore this. 
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Reconciliation and what it means in Family Law - Part 1

Thanks to the current social-distancing regulations, many of us find ourselves spending most, if not all, of our time alone. 

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Ideas to entertain your children during lockdown

For many of us, spending prolonged days isolated at home with our children is not the norm. With majority of entertainment venues closed and with strict social distancing rules, you may be finding that your beloved children are driving you a little insane. 

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George Pell, Bombshells & Evidence in the Family Court

Yesterday, 7 April 2020, the High Court handed down it’s decision granting Cardinal George Pell’s application for special leave and unanimously acquitting him of his conviction for child sexual abuse, which was previously upheld by the Supreme Court of Victoria.  Most of you will be familiar with this high-profile case and the December 2018 conviction that resulted in George Pell’s sentence of six years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months. 
Following the Supreme Court of Victoria’s decision, Cardinal Pell’s lawyers appealed to the High Court of Australia, arguing that the Appeal Court failed to take proper account of evidence which cast doubt upon his guilt.  On appeal, the High Court stated that the Victorian Court of Appeal judges “failed to engage with the question of whether there remained a reasonable possibility that the offences had not taken place”.  Furthermore, the High Court found that other witnesses’ evidence was “inconsistent with the complainant’s account”. 
In essence, the High Court found that there were flaws and inconsistencies in the evidence provided. As a result, the High Court found that the jury should have had reasonable doubt that the events could have occurred, or did occur, in the manner alleged. 
Generally, a Court will give consideration to two primary factors when reaching a decision:
  • Firstly, the relevant legislation;  and
  • Secondly, the facts presented which are relevant to the matter at hand, how those facts apply to the relevant legislation, and whether or not those facts share common traits with case law.  
The facts and documents which the parties present to a Court, (in other words, their evidence), is the basis upon which Court decisions are made.  However, there are strict rules for what is, and is not, admissible as evidence in Court.  These rules are designed to ensure the proper administration of justice and, especially in criminal matters, avoid wrongful conviction.  
In the Family Court of Western Australia, decisions are made by Judicial Officers, not a jury.  Judicial Officers are aware of the rules of evidence and what evidence may be admissible.  Lawyers often argue about the admissibility of evidence, and the Judicial Officer decides whether or not it is admissible.  This is different to criminal matters before a jury, where the Trial Judge provides direction to the jury about how the evidence is to be considered.  Despite this direction from the Trial Judge, juries may still be swayed by having heard evidence which Judges may find is inadmissible. 
However, given the personal nature of Family Law matters, it may not be possible for the rules of evidence to be applied.  Therefore, the Family Court adopts a more relaxed and flexible approach to the admissibility of evidence.  Judicial Officers utilise broad discretion as to what may or may not be admitted as evidence.  This approach within the Family Court is often confusing and frustrating for parties, practitioners, and those unfamiliar with the Court and the presiding Judicial Officer’s role.  
If you are involved in Family Court proceedings, it can relieve a lot of this frustration and stress if you have a basic understanding of the differences between how the Courts function.  It is worth your while to consult with your lawyer to discuss, understand and agree about how your evidence is best presented to the Court to gain the best result in your case. 
Contact us today to speak with our experienced and skilled Legal Team. 

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The Sparks of Covid-19. How Do I Sign My Will?

The Coronavirus has sparked an increased fear of dying.  Over the past few weeks we have been flooded with instructions to draft and to update Wills.  

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COVID-19 and the Effect on Existing Orders:

For many people, COVID-19 has caused a great deal of uncertainty in areas that they previously regarded as stable: their income, the value of their assets, their ability to travel and even their ability to maintain social connections.

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EPA's & AHD's for Uncertain Times with COVID-19

It is encouraging to see young people taking the initiative to ensure that they have up-to-date Wills during the uncertainty we’re facing caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic.  However, it would be even more encouraging if all age groups took this initiative to review their Wills, and at the same time to appoint an Attorney and a Guardian, and to record your wishes regarding preferred medical treatment. 

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Domestic Violence and Covid-19

These are unprecedented times.  We are witnessing and possibly experiencing widespread job loss and isolation.  As people do their best to cope with the changes around them, this has been accompanied by a surge in domestic violence. 
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Part 3: Property proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic

Now, let’s get straight to the point….. There is no need to explain the potential impact of COVID-19 on the economy. It has already been seen around the world with a significant impact on share prices, property values, superannuation and employment. This will have an impact on Family Law Property proceedings. 

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Part 2: COVID-19 and the Effect on Family Court Parenting Issues.

COVID 19 is causing uncertainty in so many areas.  One question we are being asked, is “How it will affect existing Parenting Orders or Parenting Plans?”.  The answer to this will vary, depending upon your Order or Plan. 
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Part 1: Court Proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic


Part 1: Court Proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic

There is no question that we are now in uncharted waters.

The world has not seen an influenza pandemic of this nature since Swine Flu and HIV/AIDS. These are classified as pandemics despite the seeming lack of panic at the time. The Family Court of Western Australia was established by the Family Law Act in 1975 and commenced operation in 1976. Since that time, the Court has not had to deal with anything on this global scale before.

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Who May Apply For Parenting Orders?

In our previous article ‘Who is a Parent??’, we touched on the importance of being a ‘parent’ under Australian Law, and the legal consequences associated with paternity.

Naturally, a good way to follow up such an article is with an explanation of why, when seeking Parenting Orders from a Court, it does not matter who a child’s parents are at all.

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Co-parenting through Conflict

Separation from a spouse or partner is one of the most stressful situations a person can go through. When you have children, you have the added pressure of functioning as a parent in the midst of your grief, loss or anger surrounding the breakdown of your relationship.

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Our Courts and “The System” - Who will be held accountable for Australia's recent family tragedies?

The Australian Courts and their procedures and practices are far from perfect.  They require reviewing, updating and amending.  However, can the Courts and the “system” be held entirely accountable for the recent domestic violence tragedies we have seen in the media?  Should the perpetrators take any responsibility?

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Parenting After Separation - How to Ease the Transition for the Kids

We understand that separating from your partner is hard. Even if it is an amicable separation, the process is difficult and can be very stressful. When you have children, you have the added pressure of trying to function as a parent in the midst of your grief, loss or anger surrounding the breakdown of your relationship.

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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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Homemade Wills Can Be a Curse - A Warning to Blended Families

Making a Will is one of the best ways of ensuring that your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes when you die.  In this age of technology with the availability of information at our fingertips, some people consider that they can do it all – and home-made Wills are no exception.  

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Why Do I Even Need A Will?

One question we often hear is; ‘Why do I even need a Will?’

Understandably, planning for your death is not usually something that you think about regularly. Often times it is considered the least important of tasks. However, considering that you could die at any moment, planning for what happens afterwards and ensuring that your estate is administered in accordance with your wishes should be considered one of the most important things you can do.

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