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The Move to an Online Family Court: How Covid-19 has Influenced the Way Divorce Lawyers Represent their Clients

The prevalence of Covid-19, the coronavirus, has catapulted the Family Courts into rapid digital transformation. At first, the Courts began to switch from face-to-face court events to telephone conferences on a dial in basis. By the beginning of April, the Courts began to conduct Hearings by Microsoft Teams, a program that allows video conferencing so that parties, their divorce lawyers and judicial officers may all see each other in a “virtual courtroom”.

Alongside the transition to online Court hearings was the introduction of the Digital Court File. Previously, parties and their divorce lawyers had the option to file court documents in hard copy, particularly if the matter was urgent. This system proved challenging during the pandemic particularly for Judges and Registrars operating from remote locations. To allow matters to be heard in any location during the pandemic, every new Court file is now completely electronic and able to be downloaded using the Court portal.
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Family Law Lawyers in Focus: Cassandra Bayliss

Cassandra BaylissCassandra is a solicitor in the Family Law area of Matthews Folbigg.

Cassandra joined the Matthews Folbigg Family Law practice group as a law clerk in early 2015 and was admitted to the Supreme Court of NSW in 2018, after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Business and Commerce majoring in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations. During her university studies, Cassandra was invited to join the Golden Key International Honour Society which recognises the top 15% of university students based on their academic achievements.

Cassandra has enjoyed working as part of the Family Law area of the firm and looks forward to expanding her expertise in this area.

Click here to see more of our Family Law Team.

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Family Lawyer in Focus: Kieran Ridley

Kieran RidleyKieran Ridley was admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 2013 and as a Solicitor of the High Court of Australia in the same year.  Kieran is a graduate of Western Sydney University with degrees in Law (Dean’s Merit List 2012) and Business (Management).  Kieran also holds a Graduate Diploma in Teaching from Excelsia College and a  Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Australian National University. Kieran is on the Family Law and Criminal Law Panels with the Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales, providing private legal representation.

Kieran is a dedicated and passionate litigation and family lawyer who has assisted clients to achieve successful outcomes since 2010.  Since his admission, Kieran has represented clients in all aspects of family law, including parenting matters, property matters (married and de facto), AVO’s, financial and parenting agreements, child support and dispute resolution. Kieran has experience in a wide variety of courts and tribunals, and appears in the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia on a regular basis.
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Family Lawyer in Focus: Tina Lohitharajah

Tina LohitharajahTina is an Accredited Family Law Specialist and practices exclusively in Family Law. She has extensive experience in all facets of Family Law including divorce, parenting, property, spousal maintenance and child support matters. Tina regularly attends the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court at both the Sydney and Parramatta registries.

Tina holds a Master of Laws and Bachelor of Arts-Psychology. She commenced her family law experience in 2010 while working for the Federal Magistrates Court (now known as the Federal Circuit Court of Australia). In addition to her technical legal knowledge, this background has provided her with invaluable insight and a greater appreciation for the needs of her family law clients.

Tina is a Nationally Accredited Mediator and an advocate for the benefits that mediation has to offer the vast majority of those involved in a family law dispute. Tina offers mediation services through Matthews Folbigg Lawyers for clients that are interested in exploring this avenue.
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Divorce Lawyer in Focus: Cathy-Anne Grew

Cathy-Anne GrewCathy-Anne is an Accredited Specialist in Family Law and has a Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution. She has extensive experience in all aspects of Family Law including parenting and property matters, child support and other financial disputes.

Cathy-Anne is a member of the Panel of Independent Children’s Lawyers and is appointed by the Court to represent children in high conflict disputes.

Cathy-Anne is committed to working with clients to help them understand the legal process and achieve the best outcome for their family.

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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.

Click here to find out more about our divorce lawyers.

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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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Family Violence and Your Property Settlement Agreement

At the end of a relationship, couples are often faced with the issue of dividing their property. Due to the emotional nature of relationship breakdown, this task often proves tricky for even the best of couples. Where the couple is unable to come to an agreement, the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) empowers the Court to make a property settlement agreement that it considers appropriate. In coming to a property settlement agreement, the Court considers financial and non-financial contributions to the relationship and the future needs of the parties. The conduct of the parties is generally not a relevant consideration.

Kennon and Kennon– A Case where the Court has taken into account poor behaviour by a party to the relationship in determining a property settlement agreement.   In the case of Kennon, the   Full Court of the Family Court suggested that domestic violence may be a factor that a Court can take into account when deciding what each spouse is entitled to in a  property split up.

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