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Worried About Facing Your Ex at Family Mediation? Shuttle mediation may be an Option For You

Family mediation can often be a daunting experience. This is particularly so for those who are worried about coming face-to-face with an abusive or controlling ex-partner. However, did you know that there are alternatives to face-to-face family mediation? Depending on your individual situation, shuttle mediation may be a suitable option for you.

Shuttle Family Mediation

In shuttle family mediation, the parties to the dispute are separated into different rooms or locations. The mediator moves between each of the rooms and conveys the other parties viewpoints, ideas and offers. This may be appropriate for relationships characterised by high levels of conflict or domestic violence. Shuttle mediation is also a good alternative where Court Orders prevent the parties from being together physically. The aim of this type of mediation is to maximise the safety of both parties.

Advantages of Shuttle Mediation

  • Improved physical and emotional safety of the parties as the conflict is minimised;
  • Freedom to express your opinions or concerns to the mediator without fear of a negative reaction from your ex;
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Family Law Lawyers Discuss Your Options to Stop Your Former Partner From Taking Your Child Overseas

Are you concerned that your former partner is going to take your child overseas without your permission? Speak to one of our family law lawyers today about your options.

Australian Federal Police Watch List

If you do not want your child travelling overseas without your permission, you may consider placing the child on the Australian Federal Police Watch List. The system is designed to alert the police whenever your child is exiting Australia through an international airport or seaport. To place a child on the watch list, you will need to do the following:

  1. Complete a Family Law Watchlist Request Form, and
  2. Have a court order prohibiting the child’s removal from Australia, or, have filed an application for such an order.

If the order is granted, the child will be unable to leave Australia with any adult. It is essential that you act as soon as possible and seek assistance from experienced family law lawyers to guide you through this process.
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Can your Affair End in a Property Settlement? Family Law Lawyers Delve Into This

If you’re having an affair, something that you may want to consider is whether the person you are having an affair with can claim your property after the relationship breaks down.

Firstly, your family law lawyers will need to consider whether your affair amounts to a de facto relationship. Considerations include the duration of the relationship, whether you have lived together, whether you attend events together socially, and whether you depend on each other financially.

The case of Jonah v White (2011) considered whether someone you are having an affair with can amount to a de facto relationship. In this case, the Husband (H) had a 17 year long affair with a woman (Ms J). During the affair, H continued to live with his wife and three children. Family law lawyers for Ms J argued that the relationship she had with H amounted to a de facto relationship under the Family Law Act.

The Court said that “The key to the definition is the manifestation of a relationship where the parties have so merged their lives that they are, for all practical purposes, living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis. It is the manifestation of “coupledom”, which involves the merger of two lives as just described, that is the core of a de facto relationship as defined [by the law]”.
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Divorce Lawyer Explains section 114 Orders – Restraining Travel to Enforce Property Settlements

A divorce lawyer explains how the Family Court can impose restrictions on travel to ensure compliance with Family Court Orders.

In accordance with section 114 of the Family Law Act, the Family Court has the power to restrain a person from leaving Australia pending compliance with Family Court Orders, including final orders.

The Court will consider the following:

  1. A person’s freedom of movement, and
  2. The likelihood that the Order will not be complied with if the paying party’s freedom to leave the country is not restrained.

Ultimately, the Judge is faced with a balancing exercise and will consider whether the person’s compliance with the Orders outweighs their personal freedom of movement.

Example: Rahman v Rahman

In the 2012 decision of Rahman v Rahman, the husband was Ordered to pay to the wife a sum of $377,000 and was restrained by injunction from leaving Australia until he complied with that Order. To ensure he did not leave Australia, he was Ordered to hand in his passports to the Court and was placed on the Australian Federal Police watchlist. The husband appealed the final Orders which was dismissed. In 2020, the husband’s divorce lawyer was heard on a further application regarding the 2012 Orders again claiming that the Orders significantly impede on his freedom of movement. Judge Rees rejected the husband’s argument that given he has not made any payments to the wife over the 8 years that the “the Court should simply “give up” and allow him to travel.” If he was permitted to travel he would have no incentive to comply with the original Orders. The husband’s application was ultimately dismissed.
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How Binding Financial Agreements can let you Decide the Terms of your Property Settlement Agreement

A Binding Financial Agreement (BFA) allows couples to negotiate a property settlement agreement that suits their needs. Unless successfully challenged, it will  prevent the Family Court from dealing with your future property or spousal maintenance claims.

Binding Financial Agreements can be made:

  1. Before a marriage under a s 90B Agreement, also known as a “pre-nuptial agreement” or “prenup”;
  2. During a marriage under a s 90C Agreement – this is typically exercised during the period between separation and divorce; or
  3. After divorce under a s 90D Agreement.

A BFA can be drafted with your family law lawyer to formalise a property settlement agreement between you and your former spouse. It is an alternative means to going to Court which can be timely and expensive. The Court does, however, have the power to set aside a BFA  in certain limited circumstances.

In order to be binding and enforceable on the parties, BFAs must adhere to certain requirements including:
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FAQs – How Our Divorce Lawyers are Responding to Covid

Chloe Elkerton, one of our divorce lawyers answers some frequently asked questions on how our family law team and the Family Court is responding to Covid.

Are you still seeing clients?

Yes, we are still seeing clients! Although our team is working from home at the moment, we have quickly adapted to the changes and have implemented the technologies to be able to provide you with advice via telephone or video conferencing. Face-to-face consultations with your divorce lawyer can also be arranged where necessary in our conferencing rooms which are spacious enough to allow for social distancing.

Can I still get my Court documents witnessed?

Recent changes in the law regarding the witnessing of documents mean that you may not be required to sign a hardcopy of your family law documents. An electronic signature may be used in place of a physical signature and witnessing may now take place over video conferencing. Our team is currently using the Zoom and Whatsapp platforms to witness Court documents.
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Recent Family Court Case Sheds Light on What Initial Contributions are Really Worth?

On 1 May 2020, the Family Court handed down the decision of Barnell & Barnell. This matter involved a wife’s separation lawyer seeking to appeal a final judgment based on the Court’s treatment of the husband’s initial contributions.

The husband purchased Property B in 1988 prior to the commencement of the relationship in 1995. While no valuation was conducted on the property as at the commencement of cohabitation, the current value was agreed to be $340,000.

Given the length of the relationship and consistent gifts of money from the wife’s parents, the wife’s separation lawyer argued that the overall contributions of the parties should be considered equal. The Judge disagreed and said that to do so, would be to give insufficient weight to the fact that Property B was unencumbered at the commencement of the relationship and has not since been improved by either party. As the value of Property B represented some 36% of the net property pool, the Judge held that the husband’s contribution must be accorded significant weight. The Judge made an assessment of contributions as 62.5% to the husband and 37.5% to the wife being a 25% difference in contributions to reflect the various contributions of both parties.
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Family Law Lawyers Explain Equal Shared Parental Responsibility

If either you or your partner’s family law lawyers have made a parenting application to the Family Court, there is a presumption that it is in the best interests of the child for the parents to have equal shared parental responsibility. That is, both parents should have a role in making long-term decisions about a child such as where they go to school, decisions about the child’s health, the child’s religious and cultural upbringing or changing the child’s name.

If you believe that equal shared parental responsibility is not in the best interests of your child, your family law lawyers may be able to challenge the presumption. Depending on your individual circumstances, the Court may consider whether sole parental responsibility should be granted. This would result in one parent alone having the authority to make long-term decisions about the child. Below are some of the factors that the Court may consider when determining parental responsibility.
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