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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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Valuing the Family Home in Family Law Matters

Family Law Property Settlement

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) gives the Family Court power to divide property in the event of separation and relationship breakdown. In doing so, the Family Court adheres to a four step process as follows:

  • Identify and value the property, liabilities and financial resources;
  • Assess the contributions;
  • Assess any relevant future needs; and
  • Consider the effect of those findings and determine what order would be just and equitable.

Valuation of Real Estate

Quite often your family or matrimonial home is your most significant asset. Accordingly, there is often some argument during step 1 over what value to assign the property. As a general rule property will be valued as at the time of the final hearing. The Court will value all properties currently owned by you and/or your former spouse.

Firstly, the parties are able to negotiate and agree on the value of the property. An advantage of this avenue is that it allows the former couple to decide the value of the property themselves.
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What are Consent Orders and How Can They Help My Family?

If you and your former partner have agreed on an approach to parenting and/or financial and property arrangements, you can formalise your agreement by entering into Consent Orders. Consent Orders can only be entered into when you and your former partner have reached an agreement, whether between yourselves, or with the assistance of your family law lawyers. Consent Orders are legally binding and enforceable by the Family Court. They can be used to vary or discharge existing family law Orders that may be outdated or impractical. Consent Orders are final and can be difficult to change without agreement. It is therefore imperative to seek legal advice from family law lawyers about your family law rights and entitlements.

Consent Orders must be filed in the Family Court of Australia together with an Application for Consent Orders. The fee for entering into Consent Orders is $165, or free if you are eligible for an exemption of fees.

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Family Dispute Resolution: How to Resolve Your Parenting Dispute Without Going to Court

In response to the growing risks of COVID-19, the family Courts have begun postponing court dates for non-urgent matters. Unfortunately, this means that it may be many months before your application for child custody is heard before a Judge. Parents should be encouraged to look for alternative ways to resolve their dispute such as through Family Dispute Resolution.

By law, parents are normally required to make a genuine effort to resolve parenting disputes before beginning Court proceedings. This can be achieved by attending Family Dispute Resolution also known as FDR for short, with a certified FDR practitioner. Your FDR practitioner can then issue you with a section 60I certificate which you will need to provide to your child custody lawyer to file with your Application. You will then have 12 months to commence proceedings with the Certificate otherwise you will need to obtain an updated certificate.

Your FDR practitioner has the power to dispense with the FDR requirements if they believe that it would be inappropriate due to a party unable to negotiate freely. Unequal bargaining power and a history of domestic violence are matters the practitioner may consider when deciding whether the mediation is appropriate.

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My Ex Won’t Let Me Take My Kids Overseas

During child custody proceedings, parents cannot remove their children from Australia without either:

  1. The written consent of the other party, or
  2. A Court Order providing for overseas travel.

The most cost efficient way to take your children on an overseas trip is generally to negotiate with your former partner to obtain their consent and then put this into writing.

If you cannot come to an agreement, you may be able to make an application to the Family Court with the assistance of your child custody lawyers. Ultimately, the Court will make its child custody decisions in the best interests of the child. The Court may make an Order for the child not to travel overseas, or make an Order allowing the child to travel. In some circumstances the Court may make an Order for you or your former partner to pay a security if the child is allowed to travel to better ensure the child’s return.

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Keeping Families Safe: How the Family Courts are Responding to Covid19

On 19 March 2020, the Honourable Justice William Alstergren published new practice directions for the Family and Federal Circuit Courts to respond to the growing concerns of Covid19, also known as the Coronavirus. Overall, there has been a move to minimise the attendance of your divorce lawyer and their clients at registries to uphold the health and safety of all involved.

Key changes for your Divorce Lawyer

  • All documents must be filed electronically;
  • If documents cannot be uploaded to the portal, for example if the document is too large to upload, the documents should be emailed to the relevant registry for filing;
  • Hard copies of documents will only be accepted in limited circumstances;
  • Subpoena viewing is by appointment only in all Registries;
  • Appointments to view subpoena material should only be made if the matter is scheduled for hearing within 4 weeks or if the matter is urgent;
  • Exhibits to affidavits filed in the Family Court of Australia should now be annexed/attached to the affidavit if the exhibits are less than 2cm width and will be filed electronically;
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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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The Basics of What Your Exs Company is Worth: The Balance Sheet

One way to determine what you or your former spouse’s company is worth is to instruct your divorce lawyer to engage a single expert valuer to put a dollar figure to the value of the business. Your divorce lawyer will then instruct the valuer to analyse the company’s financial statements among other things to determine the value for the purpose of your family property proceedings.

A company’s financial statements are made up of the following:

  1. Balance Sheet
  2. Profit and Loss Statements (Or Income Statement)
  3. Cash Flow Statement


The Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a snap shot of a company’s accounts. It provides at a glance what the company owns and is owed. It can give an indication of the financial position of the company at a single point in time.

The balance sheet depicts a company’s assets, liabilities and owner’s equity (net worth). Assets include cash, office equipment eg chairs and desks, all inventory and accounts receivable which refers to people who have bought from the company but have not yet paid.  Non-current assets are also listed under assets which include the building and land, goodwill, patents and copyright.

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