Thursday, September 14, 2017
Review of Family Law Act Welcomed

One of the most significant reviews of Australia’s Family Law Act in 40 years has been endorsed by the outgoing Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant AO.

Review of Family Law Act Welcomed

One of the most significant reviews of Australia’s Family Law Act in 40 years has been endorsed by the outgoing Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant AO.

In an interview with Fairfax Media she noted the need for a “thorough overhaul” of the structure of the Act and that attention should be given to making it “a much more comprehensive statute to read”.
 
“This task will be considerable in itself,” the Chief Justice told Fairfax in an article featured in the legal publication Lawyers Weekly. Pullos Lawyers supports the review of the Family Law Act and is sharing this information as we believe the wider community needs to be aware of the changes.
 
Attorney-General George Brandis announced plans for the review during the Federal Budget in May, and revealed that the Commonwealth would commit an additional $80 million to family law and family violence services.
Of that allocation, $12.7 million will establish parent management hearings and $3.56 million will go towards the pilot of new specialist domestic violence units.
 
Mr Brandis said in a statement that the review would be used to “contemporise” the family law system, with a final report due in 2018 that provides a roadmap for making dispute resolution simpler.
 
The extra resourcing for the Family Court system was welcome by the outgoing Chief Justice, who will retire in October. She applauded the funding made available for an extra 17 family consultants to support the Family Court, Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of WA; as well as support for a trial workload management program boasting three new registrars.
 
“I am hoping we can demonstrate the usefulness of this resource and make a case for additional registrars when the evaluation concludes,” the Chief Justice said.
 
“There is a compelling need to provide resources to support the judges.”
 
Family lawyers across Australia have also welcomed the measures and the extent to which the additional resources can alleviate pressures on the courts.
 
Cassandra Pullos says family law specialists would support measures which reduce congestion and pressure on the Family Court because, by extension, they could ease the process of separation for couples.
 
In particular she strongly supports measures that ensure the best interests of children are protected during the divorce process.
 
“Too often children are the unseen casualties of divorce wars fought by their parents, which is why an increasing number of family law specialists advocate the Collaborative Law approach to separation.
 
“Under this method couples resolve to find agreements outside the court system, mindful that it can take several years for a divorce to make its way through the Family Court logjam. This can impose enormous pressures on the children of separating partners.”
 
Terms of reference for the comprehensive review are expected to be made available by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) soon. It will be the first major review of the legislation since it was introduced in 1976.
 
If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or email us at cjp@pulloslawyers.com.au and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you. For more information on dispute resolution options contact us here.

 

 

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Monday, August 21, 2017
Has Your Ex Okayed Your Overseas Holiday With The Kids?

Separated and planning a school holidays ski trip to NZ with the kids? Make sure you don't get stopped at the airport if you don't have your ex's okay for the kids to travel overseas.

Has your Ex Okayed Your Overseas Holiday with the Kids?

Separated and planning a school holidays ski trip to NZ with the kids?  Make sure you don't get stopped at the airport if you don't have your ex's okay for the kids to travel overseas.

Cassandras Pullos says with the September school holidays approaching, separated people intending to do any overseas travel with children are reminded that there may be some travel complications to resolve.
 
“If you have any orders in place relating to your children then, unless you have an Order allowing you to take your children overseas, or unless you have the consent of both parents, (that permission needs to be in writing and the signature “authenticated” – a peculiar and specific legal requirement you will need advice about), then you will be committing an offence if you take your children outside the Commonwealth of Australia.
 
“It’s punishable by a fine and/or a jail term and should be taken seriously.  There’s also the embarrassment, frustration and loss of fares plus the lost holidays factors if you are stopped at the airport or cruise terminal if the other parent has placed the child’s name on an airport watchlist,” Cassandra says.
 
The rules are in place to prevent a parent abducting their children and fleeing overseas with them.
 
Cassandra says the requirement does not apply to couples who are still together but taking separate holidays, with no orders in place regarding their children.
 
The Family Law Act only requires the formal written consent, in writing and authenticated, where there are Orders in place in relation to a child.  However, even if you have no orders in place – you should still have the consent of the other parent for travel with the children, to avoid potentially significant problems down the track.
 
If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or contact us here and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist.

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Monday, August 14, 2017
Marriage Equality Debate Deserves Respect

Cassandra Pullos says the Government's decision to put marriage equality to a postal ballot should not be a signal to unleash hate attitudes o the subject of same sex marriage.

Marriage Equality Debate Deserves Respect

Cassandra Pullos says the Government's decision to put marriage equality to a postal ballot should not be a signal to unleash hate attitudes on the subject of same sex marriage.
 
She urges Australians to discuss legalising same sex marriage free of ugly or divisive abuse from people holding strongly opposing views.
 
As a family lawyer Cassandra feels a voluntary, non-binding postal ballot at an estimated cost of $122 million is not the best way to determine marriage equality.  Instead, Australia's politicians should do what they were elected to do as our representatives in government - introduce legislation to the parliament and vote on it.
 
She recognises, however, that the argument on that point, for the time being, is over - we now have a postal "vote", that is not binding.  It isn't a "vote".  It's an opportunity to express, in a poll to be conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, individual support or opposition for marriage equality.
 
Former High Court Judge and marriage equality advocate Michael Kirby is quoted in media reports saying "It's a completely novel, voluntary, non-binding, non-compulsory vote of a few citizens and it's just something we've never done in our constitutional arrangements, and it really is unacceptable."
 
In the days since the issue erupted in the media, people holding opposing views have voiced strong opinions both for and against legalising same sex marriage here.
 
Cassandra says sadly, some of those views are extreme and personal with social media forums such as Facebook especially vulnerable to hateful and bigoted attacks.
 
"Many people feel the fact that same sex marriage is still not legal in Australia is discriminatory and a breach of fundamental human rights and we are lagging behind many nations that now have marriage equality.  Others reject this view."  
 
"What matters is everyone is entitled to an opinion on this subject.  Everyone's view deserves to be regarded with respect, whether you agree with it or not."  
 
As a family lawyer Cassandra notes that Australian law already recognises same sex couples in many areas, including under the Family Law Act in recognising that a defacto relationship includes a relationship between two people of the same gender.  
 
Cassandra believes now is the time for the Australian community to show we can have the marriage equality debate in a respectful way without descending into insults and, worse, disrespect and hate speech.  
 
"We need to have a balanced and reasoned public debate conducted with respect and dignity."  
 
Now there are reports that supporters of both sides of the issue plan to spend up to $30m each on their respective advertising campaigns.  
 
"In the face of such campaigns with that sort of reach it is our responsibility as citizens of a civilised nation to maintain the capacity to respect each other's views and engage in informed and reasoned debate."  
 
"If we can't have the ability to step into the shoes of people with opposing views and see the issue from their perspective - whilst not agreeing with them - we risk dividing our nation in a way that might take us as a society many years to recover from," she says.  
 
If you need advice or assistance, contact us and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you. 

 

 

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Wednesday, August 02, 2017
Stop Dithering - Legalise Same Sex Marriage

Cassandra Pullos has a strong message for Australia’s politicians - stop dithering and make same sex marriage legal.

Stop Dithering - Legalise Same Sex Marriage

Cassandra Pullos has a strong message for Australia’s politicians- stop dithering and make same sex marriage legal.

She says reports of political in-fighting with same sex marriage as a bargaining lever would anger Australians who believe we should have marriage equality now, as a significant number of other countries have already done.
 
Cassandra says the fact that same sex marriage was still not legal in Australia was discriminatory and we are lagging behind many nations that now have marriage equality.
 
New Zealand legalised same sex marriage in 2013 - the first Asia/ Pacific country to do so and Britain voted to make it legal in 2014. Internationally, laws making it legal for same sex couples to marry have been enacted in many countries as diverse as the United States, the Netherlands, Ireland, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa and Germany.
 
“Germany just recently voted for marriage equality after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said politicians could follow their own conscience rather than the party line on the issue.
 
“There was very little debate or fuss over the German vote, yet here in Australia same sex marriage is being used as a political weapon for party in-fighting while others continue to push some Victorian-era mindset about what constitutes marriage,” she says.
 
“If Germany and New Zealand can introduce marriage equality without drama, why can’t we?” Cassandra says.
 
It is ridiculous that a same sex couple could legally marry in New Zealand but their marriage is not recognised in Australia.
 
More than 760 million people in the world live in more than 22 countries which legally recognise same sex marriage. Against this background, Australia was lagging behind the rest of the world.
 
Cassandra does not feel there is a need for a national referendum on the issue.
 
“This is not a referendum issue, there is no requirement to change the Constitution to bring it in. Our elected representatives need to do the job we elected them to do and introduce the legislation into parliament and vote on it as our representatives as they do on every other piece of legislation.
 
“As with other pieces of legislation that have a moral element to them they should also be allowed a conscience vote and not be required to vote along party lines. If we had a plebiscite every time a difficult piece of legislation came before parliament the nation would come to a standstill.
 
“It’s simple, introduce the legislation, have the usual parliamentary debate followed by a parliamentary vote in which politicians in all parties are allowed a conscience vote rather than being required to vote along party lines. It needs to be done immediately,” Cassandra says.
 
If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or contact us and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you.


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Fair Work, Employers Groups Fail Workers on Domestic Violence Leave

The Fair Work Commission is being urged to re-think its rejection of a union bid for 10 days of paid domestic violence leave for all employees.

Fair Work, Employers Groups Fail Workers on Domestic Violence Leave

The Fair Work Commission is being urged to re-think its rejection of a union bid for 10 days of paid domestic violence leave for all employees.

Cassandra Pullos says the full bench of the Fair Work Commission should review its "preliminary view" that while it is necessary to make provisions for family and domestic violence leave, it rejected an application for 10 days of leave to be covered under all modern awards for all employees.
 
Cassandra says it is extremely disappointing that the commission has said it did not approve the Australian Council of Trade Unions application because it was not satisfied "at this time, that it is necessary to provide 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave to all employees covered by modern awards.
 
She is especially critical of remarks from employer groups, welcoming Fair Work’s stance and saying paid leave, unpaid leave and flexible working arrangements are already available options where employees experience domestic violence.
 
“Comments by the employer groups that carers leave and annual leave suffice might work for those workers who have leave entitlements owing – but what about those who don’t?
 
“Domestic violence isn’t usually a one off event. It often causes incremental and increasing absences from work and is in addition to the burden of days lost by illness of both the parent and their children, and on occasion parents that the domestic violence victim might also be caring for,” Cassandra says.
 
She has acknowledged Fair Work’s preliminary view that all employees should have access to unpaid family and domestic violence leave and in addition its preliminary view that employees should be able to access personal/carer's leave for the purpose of taking family and domestic violence leave.
 
However she feels much more could be done and reiterates her view that domestic violence leave should be a compulsory element in every workplace in 2017, the same way personal and holiday leave is provided for by law.
 
“We as a community are starting to take big steps in recognising the widespread prevalence of domestic violence, across all socio economic groups as a whole of community issue. As a whole of community issue it needs a workplace response as one, essential, part of a whole of community response to domestic violence.
 
“Enabling victims to access personal and carers leave for the purposes of family and domestic violence leave is one step – but it’s not enough. Specific Family and domestic violence leave is also needed,” she says.
 
“Not only does it provide victims with the workplace support they need in a more meaningful way than being restricted to whatever personal and annual leave they have available to them, if any, it also send a very strong and powerful message about the communities response to domestic violence and a recognition that this is a whole of community responsibility” .
 
Cassandra says Queensland public sector workers are entitled to paid domestic violence leave and it should become a standard provision in all workplaces.
 
“Domestic violence is a growing national crisis and paid leave for those affected by it should be seen as necessary and not confined to just public sector employees,” she says.
 
Late last year Queensland became the first jurisdiction to legislate paid domestic and family violence for public sector workers. Several Australian law firms are now offering domestic violence leave to staff but it was on an ad hoc basis with no formal, profession-wide policy.
 
“We support this call for domestic violence leave to be available across the board to everyone affected by it as one of the ways in which the business community can recognise the toll domestic and family violence can take on employees,” Cassandra says.
 
The State’s provisions for its employees entitles them to up 10 days of paid leave to attend medical, legal and counselling appointments and arrange alternative accommodation and child care assistance.
 
Cassandra says the legal profession should take a prominent role in advocating change to protect DV victims and advocate tougher penalties for those who commit domestic violence.
 
She believes the business community could play a crucial and influential role for change especially in opening the closed doors of a behaviour that still carries a worrying stigma for many victims, and which perpetrators of domestic and family violence exploit to their own benefit.
 
“One of the key messages we need to convey in 2017 is to push for change on the understanding that domestic violence leave is not and should not be just seen as a holiday.
 
“Domestic violence is so widespread and ingrained, it needs a whole of Government and Community approach to eradicate it. Up until now various groups and agencies have been working almost independently and in isolation on DV solutions.
 
“The current splintered approach needs to refocus around a robust policy to protect and help victims and deter and appropriately punish domestic violence offenders,” she says.
 
Legislating domestic violence leave as an entitlement for all workers, irrespective of their profession or industry, is a worthy target for addressing DV in 2017, Cassandra says.
 
If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or contact us and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you.


 

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Monday, May 15, 2017
Federal Budget - Implications for Family Law

The 2017-18 Federal Budget, released Monday 9th May, has been received with mixed feelings by the Family Law Section.

Federal Budget - Implications for Family Law  

The 2017-18 Federal Budget, released Monday 9 May, has been received with mixed feelings by the Family Law Section.

Disappointingly, the budget did not include the significant funding increase required to solve some of the current challenges faced by the existing Family Court framework. Extended delays within the court system are set to continue without the economic attention necessary to address them. Legal Aid funding also failed to receive the budget consideration it requires.
 
A welcome injection of $10.7 million to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the Family Court of Australia and the Family Court of Western Australia will help to support vulnerable families by engaging more family consultants.
 
The establishment of ‘Parenting Management Hearings’ has been afforded $12.7 million. Attorney-General, Hon George Brandis QC, outlined these hearings as an innovative solution to resolving “more straight-forward family law disputes between self-represented litigants”.
 
These hearings will be introduced with the aim to lessen the stress placed on the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court. Diversified resolution options should help streamline the litigation process and help to unclog the court system, encouraging a more timely litigation process. It appears that hearings will be trialled in Parramatta, with a second site yet to be identified. The Federal Court of Australia will have administrative responsibility.
 
Particularly important was the announcement that Australian family law will undergo a comprehensive review by the Australian Law Reform Commission. This review will be focused on ensuring that the contemporary needs of modern Australian families are being met by Australian family law. Of particular interest will be frameworks for addressing family violence and child abuse. The Commission will present its report by the end of 2018.
 
Accompanying the Budget was the Attorney-General’s assurance that public consultation regarding proposed changes to the Family Law Act would commence shorty. The proposed changes detail measures to ensure that victims of family violence are not put in the position of being personally cross-examined, or having to cross-examining their alleged perpetrator/s of violence.
 
If you need advice or assistance with any family law issue, call us on 07 5526 3646 or contact us.

 

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Friday, May 05, 2017
Federal Government Makes Major Changes to 457 Visa

The Federal Government has made substantial changes to the 457 visa programme for migrants wishing to work and settle in Australia.

Federal Government Makes Major Changes to 457 Visa

The Federal Government has made substantial changes to the 457 visa programme for migrants wishing to work and settle in Australia.    
 
Damira Hidic our migration law expert says those who may be affected by the changes should see a migration lawyer to clarify their visa status and be made aware of the transition now to a new visa programme.
 
The four-year visa system, which permits highly skilled migrants to apply for permanent residency on its completion, is to be replaced in a policy move to protect Australian jobs.
 
Damira says the Government is saying the 95,000 skilled migrants currently in Australia on 457 visas will not be affected and may still have a pathway for permanent residency at the end of the four years.
 
“But the Government has removed more than 200 qualifying occupations from the visa list, so if people in those categories who have applied but not yet been approved, their applications will be rejected. I understand refunds of visa application fees will be made if the application is withdrawn before it is decided,”
 
Damira says people who have lodged a visa application which may now not qualify should see a migration lawyer to see what they may need to do to satisfy new Australian visa rules.
 
Damira, who is a registered Migration Lawyer with over 10 years of experience helping people who want to make Australia their home, says the changes will completely redefine the pathway to permanent residency status.
 
Applicants or an employer wanting to sponsor employees to work in Australia, don’t need to physically be in Australia for us to be able to act as your migration agent. In fact a large majority of our clients are still residing overseas while we are doing the work required to secure their visa for them.
 
If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or contact us and our expert Migration lawyer will be able to assist you.
 

 

 

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Tuesday, May 02, 2017
Increasing Pressure for Family Court on GC

Pullos Lawyers is strongly endorsing a renewed campaign to bring the Family and Federal courts to the Gold Coast.

Increasing Pressure for Family Court on GC

Pullos Lawyers is strongly endorsing a renewed campaign to bring the Family and Federal courts to the Gold Coast.

Cassandra Pullos says it’s ridiculous that the Gold Coast, the sixth largest city Australia, can host and contribute to the funding of the Commonwealth Games next year, but residents are not given the badly needed service of a resident Family Court registry.
She says the current arrangement whereby the Federal Circuit Court holds five two-day sessions a year on the Gold Coast do not even scratch the surface of the need here. Cassandra regards the current arrangement of providing a circuit court sitting only on the Gold Coast as “Pathetic and getting worse”.
 
“The Circuit judges do their very best, in fact they are amazing under very, very difficult circumstances. The need so far outstrips the capacity of one judge, 2 days per month for a total of 5 months a year that the situation for both the Court staff and the clients is now impossible,” she says.
 
Cassandra says the Gold Coast situation looks all the more ridiculous when compared with the Victorian suburb of Dandenong, near Melbourne which has been serviced by its own Family Court registry for many years.
 
Central Dandenong has a population of around 29,500, and the Greater Dandenong population is 157,000 compared to the Gold Coast’s 570,000. Dandenong is 34 kms and 37 mins drive from Melbourne and its main Family Court registry. The Gold Coast is 82 kms and 57 mins drive from the main Family Court Registry in Brisbane.
 
“How can it be justifiable to have full Family Court services in Dandenong and not on the Gold Coast?” Cassandra says.
 
“As Cr Dawn Crichlow has pointed out, the federal government has stripped several government services from the Gold Coast and given nothing in return.
 
“What pains us even more is the fact that there was a Family Court registry on the Gold Coast about 25 years ago – even though it was limited to filing and conferences services only. We were campaigning at the time for full Court services but never got them and eventually the limited services that were there shut down.
 
“So now people have to go to Brisbane and experience the logjam of matters in the courts there on top of the pressures of an often clogged M1 motorway. Gold Coast people deserve better than this,” Cassandra says.
 
She has dismissed comments from Federal MP for Moncrieff, Stephen Ciobo, who has defended the government, saying the five two-day Federal Circuit Court hearings allocated to the Gold Coast are woefully inadequate.
 
“They don’t even scratch the surface of the need here. On those two days the Judge has at least 30 matters to deal with each day, and can really only deal with directions and consents and make the most urgent of interim orders. Anything else is then transferred up to Brisbane.
 
“At all other times parties, and their lawyers, have to travel to Brisbane. I believe the Gold Coast is the largest population centre in Australia by far without a Family Law registry of its own,” Cassandra says.
 
With the Gold Coast’s growing population, heading toward 570,000 now, the city can no longer be treated like a satellite suburb of Brisbane.
 
“Officially we are the sixth largest city in Australia and the largest non-capital city in the country but for key government services we are regarded as a rural backwater”.
 
Family lawyers would strongly endorse business and legal group lobbying to establish a full time Family Court here. The Gold Coast City
Council tried 20 years ago to bring the Family and Federal Courts to the Gold Coast, with the Mal Burke carpark tagged as a development site for the courts complex. But the venture fizzled out.
 
“The Federal Government talks up the importance of its services to the public but in the area of the Family Court, Gold Coasters are poorly treated by our government. It’s long past the time for change,” Cassandra says.
 
If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or contact us and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you.

 

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Divorce in a Day Gimmick Distorts Complex Reality of Relationship Breakdown

Family lawyers offering catchy gimmicks such as ‘divorce in a day’ or ‘divorce hotels’ may be creating unrealistic expectations and long term problems among separating couples.

 


Divorce in a Day Gimmick Distorts Complex Reality of Relationship Breakdown

 

Family lawyers offering catchy gimmicks such as 'divorce in a day' or 'divorce hotels' may be creating unrealistic expectations and long term problems among separating couples. 

That's Cassandra Pullos' view and she says the 'divorce in a day' concept, which has drawn recent media focus, sends the wrong message to separating couples.

“It suggests a quick fix remedy. Divorce your partner and move on, all in a day. Out with the old and in with the new- simple consumerist rhetoric that pays no regard or respect for the complexity of human relationships. The reality is a lot more complex than that and to suggest otherwise is not only a gimmick but dangerously misleading,” she says.
Cassandra is concerned that various family lawyers here and interstate are promoting ‘quick fix’, cheaper divorce processes which generally focus only on “getting a divorce” as if it were the same thing as “getting a burger”.
 
“You can’t get “divorced in a day” in this country. To suggest otherwise to people unfamiliar with the law is misleading. You have to be separated for a minimum of 12 months to “get a divorce” (the Order that ends your legal relationship of marriage).You can certainly sign the necessary paperwork the day after the 12 months expires – you will then be divorced on a final basis about four months later, after the Court has reviewed your application and satisfied itself of the factors required in the Family Law Act and after a final “cooling off” period of one month.
 
“That has been the law in Australia since 1975 – and it hasn’t changed.
 
“As for the untangling of a relationship, such as the dividing up of property, superannuation and financial investments, arrangements for any children and so on- these are life decisions that are never made in a day, at least not without the risk of later regret for hasty decisions made for emotional reasons and without proper advice,” Cassandra says.
 
“Similarly the idea of a ‘divorce hotel’ where a couple check in for a weekend and thrash out an agreement and “divorce”, all pre supposes the two people are already in agreement on all matters. This marketing concept has been around for some years and used in other countries,” she says.
 
Cassandra feels the allure of a fast decision and settlement within a day may appeal to those seeking the quick fix solution but the process of separation and divorce is far more complex and needs to be thought through to prevent complications later on.
 
“A divorce involves a process of grief and loss. The key throughout is to make informed decisions. You can’t rush to a decision then have second thoughts six months after the documents are signed.
 
“A divorce means you are making decisions that could be irreversible and certainly will have lifelong consequences for you, your ex-partner and your children,” she adds.
 
“You don’t generally make a decision in a single day to get married or commit to a life together. It takes time to develop a relationship with your partner leading to that commitment. If the relationship breaks down it also takes time to process the emotion on a personal level so that you can make wise and informed decisions on a legal level about your children and your finances into the future.
 
Those decisions have to last a lifetime. When do you ever make lifetime decisions in a day?” she says.
 
“My 32 years of experience in working with couples going through the life transition of relationship breakdown tells me loudly and clearly that couples want, generally, to be able to separate in a way that is future and child focused with appropriately qualified and experienced professionals to help them make wise decisions that will support their new life as a separated family.”
 
“That takes time, and the seeking of wise counsel from trusted advisors in law, finance, children’s needs, communication and emotional and psychological health.
 
“Much as we would all like to take a magical pill to make us happier, thinner, wealthier, sexier or separated – the quick fix simply does not exist.
 
“Separating couples do want alternatives to a big, long, expensive, nasty Court battle in which, usually, neither side “wins”. Those alternatives are available, mediation and Collaborative practice are two of them. “Divorce in a day” is not one, or at least not a safe one,” Cassandra says.
 
“Those genuine alternatives are respectful, future and child focused, problem solving approaches that also take commitment, patience and maturity from both the clients and their lawyers and other advisors. They also deliver better, positive, outcomes”.
 
Cassandra, who is a mediator and collaborative professional as well as a trainer in Collaborative Practice for family lawyers and allied professionals who work with separating couples, says the benefits of couples controlling the divorce process in a respectful and co-operative manner are widely known now and practised internationally.
 
“All of these processes take time. Sometimes a short time, others longer, but almost never in just one day. There’s a reason for that, to ensure people make informed decisions for their future.
 
“Just like life, relationships and their endings are a journey, not a destination to be reached in a day”, Cassandra says.
 
If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or email us at cjp@pulloslawyers.com.au and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you.


 

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Wednesday, April 05, 2017
Six Years of Casual Sex Does Not Prove a De Facto Relationship

It’s the question family lawyers get asked perhaps more than any other- how do I prove if I’m in a de facto relationship?

Six Years of Casual Sex Does Not Prove a De Facto Relationship

It's the question family lawyers get asked perhaps more than any other - how do I prove if I'm in a de facto relationship?

There are many cases that address this issue and the Federal Circuit Court has recently addressed this question head on again with a decision that may surprise many. Basically, casual sex across any number of years does not in itself automatically legally define a de facto relationship.
 
No surprise to the lawyers who work in this area, but it may be to the many couples trying to navigate the complex system.
 
Cassandra Pullos says the subject often arises with people who may have been in a relationship for years, but don’t necessarily live together in the same house.
 
While many aspects of family law are clearly defined, the definition of a de facto relationship can be confusing to some, which is why so many people seek legal advice on it. Sometimes the answer’s just not as clear cut as they might hope.
 
So is a six year sexual relationship, not in the same house, a de facto relationship? If it is, then for what period- eight years or only two?
 
That’s the background to the matter that recently came before the Court. The man who brought the case believed there was a strong case because he and his former partner had been together for a total of eight years, the last two living in the same house. So they were a de facto couple, right? And now they’ve split up, he’s entitled to a share of the assets, yes?
 
But as the Federal Circuit Court found, it’s not as straightforward as this.
 
The case before the Court involved a man and woman who had six years of a casual relationship, then moved in together for two years before they broke up.
 
She held the major value of assets in her name-$2.7m worth-and he made a claim for a slice of the cake- claiming they’d been in a de facto relationship for eight years and he had contributed to the value held by each of them at the end of their relationship. The jointly held property had only a very small value- about $9000 net after taking into account the liabilities attached to those jointly held assets.
 
The judge shot his case down. Forget the first six years – that was not a de facto relationship. It came down to the two years the couple did spend under the same roof.
 
The Court found that, yes, the pair inter-mingled their financial affairs, but only to the extent that they entered into joint loans to purchase some property. Otherwise they kept their finances entirely separate.
 
Cassandra says the court found that there was no basis to adjust the property rights the woman had in the $2.7m worth of property she had in her own name- she kept all of it.
 
But, the de facto husband argued, his contributions to the joint property - paving and installation of new turf- should count. Not so said the Judge, calling it “a de minimis argument”- (de minimis non curat lex i.e. the law does not concern itself with trifles). Ouch.
 
The judge went on to find that, but for the contributions of the de facto wife, the asset wouldn’t have existed so the de facto husband didn’t get a share of that either.
 
So, in summary, he could reflect on the benefit he had in living rent-free in the property owned by his former partner during the relationship.
 
Cassandra says situations like this happen more often than people may think. Sometimes people may have multiple partners spread around different places and each may think they are in a de facto relationship, when the reality is that casual sex does not legally prove a de facto relationship exists.
 
Conversely, there are many cases where a de facto relationship has been found to exist where the couple have never lived together, or have spent some time in each other’s homes. It all depends on the entire set of circumstances of each individual couple- and how those circumstances are presented by your lawyers to the Judge. Knowing where to place the focus in your particular circumstances is crucially important.
 
If you need advice or assistance about your particular circumstances, call us on 07 5526 3646 or contact us here and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you.

 

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