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How Interim Child Custody Proceedings Can Help You

Interim proceedings allow the Court to make temporary child custody Orders that are effective until the matter can finally be determined. An application for interim Orders cannot be filed without an Application for final Orders. At the interim hearing, some of the issues the Court may consider include who the child should live with until the final hearing, whether the child can travel overseas and whether the child can relocate to another city.

The mere fact that the children are currently in a well settled environment does not prevent the Court from making a child custody Order for parents to spend time with the children. Rather than preserving the status quo, at an interim parenting hearing, the main objective of is for both parents to have meaningful involvement in their children’s’ lives. Child custody law is in favour of substantial involvement of both parents in their children’s lives including both parental responsibility and time spent with the children. This rule is subject to the need to protect the children and provided that it is in the best interests of each child. The Court will consider whether equal time or significant involvement by both parents in the children’s lives is appropriate and practical.

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Family Law Secretaries in Focus: Tina Skaros

After leaving high school, Tina Skaros undertook her studies at Secretarial school and has applied her skills to the legal field for the past 35 years. Tina has been a secretary for divorce lawyer Carolyn Munk for over 22 years and together they have worked as a team at Matthews Folbigg Lawyers in the Family Law Group for over 11 years. Tina is often the first point of contact for Carolyn’s clients and has developed exceptional communication and organisational skills. Tina has worked predominately in Family Law and prepares Court documents for those seeking a divorce. She is a dedicated and passionate assistant who works closely with clients and their divorce lawyer to progress their parenting and property matters and achieve positive outcomes. Tina also has experience in property settlements after matters have been resolved and now utilises the online PEXA settlement system.

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Property Pool under $500,000 – Resolving Your Family Property Dispute Quickly

On 7 February 2020 the Family Court published a Practice Direction on Case Management of property pools under $500,000, known as PPP500 cases. The purpose of the practice direction is to assist your divorce lawyer to help you achieve a just, efficient and timely resolution of your matter.

Who Does the PPP500 Direction Apply to?

The practice direction applies to family law applications for property settlements filed by your divorce lawyer in Brisbane, Parramatta, Adelaide and Melbourne registries of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

A PPP500 case is where the value of the combined property of the parties including superannuation is under $500,000. Further, neither party can own, or be in effective control of an entity such as a trust, company or self-managed super fund that might require a valuation.

The Court also has the power to declare the case as a PPP500 case.

A PPP500 case does not apply to cases where parenting orders are sought, child support cases, contravention applications and enforcement applications.

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Divorce Lawyer in Focus: Carolyn Munk

Carolyn MunkCarolyn is a Family Law specialist, having practiced exclusively in Family Law since 1987. She has been an Accredited Specialist in Family Law since 1993.

She joined the firm in March 2009, when her firm Watson Stafford Family Lawyers merged with Matthews Folbigg Lawyers.

Carolyn practices in all areas of Family Law and de facto relationships law and deals with issues concerning a relationship breakdown including property settlement, parenting disputes and child support.

She appears regularly in the Family Court of Australia and Federal Magistrates Courts at Sydney and Parramatta, the Supreme Court of NSW and Local and District Courts of NSW. Carolyn has worked as a Court Registrar at the Family Court, which provided invaluable experience in advocacy and dispute resolution.

There are 8 lawyers in the Matthews Folbigg Family Law Practice Group who are often working together to secure very positive outcomes for our clients.

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Child Support Lawyers– What are Your Options?

There are three different avenues for arranging your child support. They include:

  1. Child Support Assessment
  2. Child Support Agreement
  3. Self Management

Child Support Assessment

One option is to have your child support assessed by the Child Support Registrar, Department of Human Services. The amount payable is calculated according to a formula taking into account the number of children, the income of both parents and time spent with each parent. The amount payable can be changed should your circumstances change.

If you are the receiving parent you can elect to receive payment by either Private Collect or Child Support Collect. The Child Support Registrar can assist with the enforcement of payments.

Child Support Agreement

A child support agreement allows parents to formally agree to child support payments. The Agreement is carefully drafted by your child support lawyers. The Agreement is legally binding on the parties and payments can be enforced by either the Child Support Registrar or the Court. The agreement can determine how much, when and by what method a person should pay child support.

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Can You DIY Your Prenup?

In an effort to save money on their property settlement, some couples have sought to DIY their prenup. But is it a good idea?

The Family Law Act states that for a prenup to be valid and enforceable, one requirement is that both parties need to obtain independent legal advice. This legal advice has three components:

  1. Firstly, the legal advice must be given before signing the agreement and must cover the effect of the agreement on the rights of that spouse and about the advantages and disadvantages of the agreement.
  2. Secondly, either before or after signing the agreement, each spouse must be provided with a signed statement by the legal practitioner stating that the advice was provided to that party.
  3. Thirdly, a copy of the statement must be provided to the other spouse or legal practitioner for the other party.

Take for instance the scenario of Mark and Sally. Mark and Sally would both like a prenup before they marry next year to protect their respective financial interests. According to Australian law, both Mark and Sally must seek separate legal advice. That is, two separate lawyers that are independent of each other need to be engaged in the process. Prior to signing the agreement, Lawyer A gives their advice to Mark, while Lawyer B gives their advice to Sally. Before or after signing the prenup, Mark’s lawyer needs to provide a signed statement that declares the said legal advice was given to Mark. Then, a copy of that statement needs to be given to Sally or her lawyer. Sally also needs to do the same.

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Child Custody Laws and Independent Children’s Lawyers

An independent children’s lawyer, also known as an ICL, is a Court-appointed lawyer who acts independently to represent the child’s interests in family law proceedings regarding child custody laws. The child, an organization concerned with the welfare of the child or any other person may apply for an ICL to be appointed. The Court may then make an order to appoint an ICL who will attempt to find out what the views of the child are.

The Full Court in Re K [1994] FamCA 21 provided some guidance on what the court might consider when appointing an ICL in matters involving child custody laws, including:

  • Alleged child abuse
  • Unsuitability of either parent
  • Parental conflict
  • Proposal to relocate the child far away
  • Alienation from a parent
  • A parent’s sexual preferences
  • Special medical procedure for the child

Role of the ICL

The role of the ICL is not to take instructions from the child, but rather, to represent the child’s best interests. The ICL should form an independent view of what is in the child’s best interests according to the evidence, act in the child’s best interests and make submissions to the Court regarding the child’s best interests. The child’s best interests must be distinguished, however, from the child’s wishes. An ICL is not obliged to follow the child’s wishes and may disclose information about the child against their wishes if necessary.

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Divorce Lawyer Advice for when you can’t locate your ex-partner to serve divorce papers

Service is the sending or giving of filed court documents to the opposing party. Proof of service of the divorce application is one of the procedural requirements asserted by the court that must be complied with in order for the court to grant the divorce.

What options exist if you cannot serve the divorce application on your former spouse?

Once you have made all reasonable attempts to serve the divorce application, you make seek the assistance of a divorce lawyer who can apply to the court for either substituted service or dispensation of service.

Substituted service allows you to serve the documents on a third party who the Court is satisfied will bring those documents the attention of your former spouse.

Dispensation of service is where the Court is satisfied that you have made all reasonable attempts to locate  your spouse in attempt to serve the divorce application, and as a result the Court says that you do not need to serve the documents.

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