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Domestic Violence and Family Law

Domestic Violence can affect people of all ages, socioeconomic and demographic groups and unfortunately can often go unreported particularly when it occurs during a relationship with a spouse or partner. However it is not uncommon for historical and current domestic violence to come to light particularly in circumstances of a family law separation. In June 2012, the definition of family violence was amended to include other behaviours that constitute family violence.

The Family Law Act defines Family Violence as “violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family, or causes the family member to be fearful”. The legislation includes behaviours such as stalking, repeated derogatory taunts, intentionally damaging property, causing death or injury to an animal and unreasonably denying a family member of their financial autonomy. With respect to children, the legislation also states that “a child is exposed to family violence if the child sees or hears family violence or otherwise experiences the effects of family violence”.

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Who Can Access My Family Court Records?

Like other family law lawyers, I am often asked whether non-parties (persons that are not directly involved in the family law litigation) are able to access the Court records relating to the case.

Documents filed in a family law case (and other documents relating to the case) are held in a Family Court case file.  This information is protected under the Family Law Act 1975 and the Family Law Rules 2004.  For example:

  • Rule 24.13 of the Family Law Rules 2004 limits those who are allowed to access the Court’s records in family law cases;
  • Section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 limits the publication of reports of family law proceedings and of lists of cases. There are exceptions to this;
  • Family Law Judgments are reported by the Court in a de-identified form (for example, with pseudonyms replacing the parties’ real names).

There are also exceptions to the restrictions to a Court file, including research (Regulation 24.13(1)(d) Family Law Rules 2004) or by the Australian Taxation Office (Commissioner of Taxation & Darling (2014) FLC 93-583).

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How the Court deals with a significant financial contribution where the property value soared after rezoning

With the fluctuating property market and endless residential rezoning, how the Family Court deals with property introduced by one party to the relationship that has dramatically increased is sure to be a recurrent theme for separating couples.

Background Facts

In one recent case of Jabour, where the parties had been married for a long period and had raised three adult children this circumstance arose.

When the parties first got together the husband owned a 50% share in three blocks of land which he had purchased from his father in 1975 for $26,000.

11 years into the marriage the husband sold his share in two of the blocks to purchase the other 50% share in the third larger block.

The property acquired by the husband was later re-zoned for residential use causing the property value to increase significantly. The property subsequently sold in October 2017 for $10,350,000.

When the case went to Court to be heard by the Judge, the Husband proposed that the proceeds of sale from the property, after costs and expenses be distributed 70% to him and 30% to the Wife. The Wife sought a 50/50 split.
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Domestic Violence Lawyer

Sadly, domestic violence is frequent in many relationships. It can have incredibly traumatic long-term effects on a person and once it has occurred, it quickly falls into a common pattern. However, domestic violence is a serious criminal offence and is neither justifiable nor acceptable. If you are a victim of domestic violence, a domestic violence lawyer at Matthews Folbigg Lawyers can provide you with the legal advice necessary to ensure your protection.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence can take many forms. Some of the most common types of domestic violence that a person can experience include:

  • Physical violence – unwanted physical contact such as punching, beating and slapping;
  • Emotional violence – behaviour such as name-calling that is directed towards humiliating a person, and affecting his or her confidence;
  • Economical violence –actions or behaviour intended to control a person’s use of their money especially when he or she is financially dependent on their partner;
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Property Settlement Agreement

The law encourages parties to negotiate and reach an amicable agreement as to the division of property following separation. If you have come to a Property Settlement Agreement with your former partner then you may wish to formalise this by entering into a binding property settlement agreement.

Sometimes parties come to an agreement without having properly considered the nature and effect of their agreement.

When negotiating a Property Settlement Agreement some things to keep in mind include the following:

  1. Property Settlement Agreements differ depending on your particular set of circumstances.
  2. A fair Property Settlement Agreement may depend on the length of your relationship or marriage and this is just one of the factors to be considered.
  3. There may need to be an adjustment for financial contributions made prior to the relationship by either party.
  4. There may need to be an adjustment for one of the parties’ future needs such as their age, health, ability to work and their earning capacity.
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The Changing Stigma Associated with Signing a Prenuptial Agreement

The idea of a binding financial agreement, commonly known as a prenuptial agreement has traditionally been associated with a negative and unromantic stigma; often automatically suggesting that the individual seeking the prenup is already having doubts about the relationship.

This stigma however is dwindling away with more millennial couples now seeing the positive side to prenuptial agreements. Statistics have illustrated a rise over the past two decades of the median age of couples marrying for the first time.  More individuals are now entering into relationships with existing assets including real estate and established businesses. Prenuptial agreements are more often being viewed by such individuals as analogous to buying insurance. No one buys insurance with the intention of crashing their car or having their home robbed, they purchase it for peace of mind just in case it happens. Likewise, parties don’t get married and enter a prenuptial agreement with a plan to get divorced; it is just insurance in the event that things don’t go to plan.

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Divorce Lawyer Parramatta Explains the Requirements for a Binding Prenuptial Agreement

Why it is important to speak to a divorce lawyer Parramatta

When formulating a Binding Financial Agreement, commonly known as a prenuptial agreement,  there is no requirement for Court approval and only independent legal advice is necessary in the execution of the prenuptial agreement. It is advised that you speak to a specialist divorce lawyer Parramatta who is well informed of the particular compliance criteria for a binding agreement to be formed.

Prenuptial agreements are very complicated and require strict compliance with legislation for the agreement to be valid. Appropriate legal advice from a divorce lawyer Parramatta is vital, as in the event that parties do separate and wish to enforce the agreement, the Court has the power to set it aside as invalid and unenforceable if it was not properly executed in accordance with certain criteria.

Requirements

A prenuptial agreement is binding on the parties to the Agreement if, and only if:

  1. The prenuptial agreement is signed by both parties.
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Family Law Lawyers and Mediation

For most of those dealing with their family law matter through the Court system, it becomes apparent very quickly that you might be in this for the long haul and it won’t be cheap. With a currently under resourced Family Court, the excessive delays no doubt add to the stress of separating couples who want nothing more than to be able to move on with their lives. So, what else can you do to try and take back control of your future? Well there are many alternatives but a cheaper and often underestimated option is Mediation. Family law lawyers are able to assess your particular situation and advise whether mediation is suitable in your circumstances.

What is Mediation?

It is a voluntary process facilitated by a neutral third party (the Mediator) where you and the other party can have confidential discussions in trying to resolve your matter. The Family Law Mediator will navigate the process and assist you in sorting through your issues in dispute, generating options for resolution and how you might go about finalising any agreement that is reached. Family law lawyers may also attend with you if you so wish, allowing you to get tailored advice as different options surface through the discussions. If you are not comfortable with being in the same room as the other party, participating in shuttle mediation where the mediator goes between rooms can also provide you with the same benefits. So why should you try it?

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