Each month Katrina will be providing you with information as to what has been “happening” at Oner Family Law. This will highlight the many different areas of family law in which we practice.
- On two separate matters we commenced property settlement proceedings so as to keep “alive” and stop from lapsing, caveats registered against the former relationship homes, where the homes are solely registered in the other party’s name. This ensures our clients’ interests are protected, with the homes not able to be sold, transferred, or further borrowed against, until property settlement matters are finalised.
- We reached a stalemate with regard to negotiations regarding a complex property matter involving rural farming properties, and therefore drafted Court documents to commence property settlement proceedings during which significant valuation issues will also need to be resolved.
- We received instructions to act on behalf of a parent where the other parent is unilaterally attempting to change child arrangements which have been in place for some time. The parties will need to attend at mediation and if the matter cannot be resolved there, litigation will be the only way to resolve the matter.
- As is usually the case in January, we dealt with a high volume of new clients who were waiting until the New Year before pushing forward with formally separating from their partner.
- We acted on behalf of a mother who was served with a last minute Protection Order Application filed by the father, seeking that the mother be ousted from the family home, with their children to be listed as associated persons needing protection on the Protection Order. The mother filed her own Protection Order Application as against the father in the same terms, and at the first mention of the matter where both Applications were heard, the mother was successful in obtaining a Temporary Protection Order as against the father, but the father was unsuccessful in obtaining a Temporary Protection Order as against the mother, even though he was the party who started the Domestic Violence proceedings in the first place.
- A quiet month with most staff taking annual leave. The OFL team celebrated a well deserved, end of year Christmas lunch.
- Prepared in record time, Consent Order documents for a client who was wanting to urgently finalise an agreed property settlement with the other side. Consent Order documents were drafted, finalised, and filed with the Family Court for approval within 7 days. The Family Court approved and issued the Court Order shortly thereafter with the parties able to implement their settlement immediately.
- We had a very successful outcome at a domestic violence hearing where we acted for the husband accused of domestic violence, which the husband emphatically denied. After cross-examination of the wife by our client’s barrister, that the wife realised her case was so flawed that she decided to withdraw her application half way through the hearing and did not pursue it. The wife’s application was therefore dismissed and no domestic violence Order was made against the husband.
- We busily prepared last minute Court documents for an upcoming property settlement appearance on behalf of a client who retained us very shortly before the first Court appearance was due to take place. We prepared for the Court appearance to such a high standard that Registrar we appeared before congratulated both lawyers for their excellent preparation and Court appearance.
- We spent time inspecting subpoenaed documents at Court for a child matter which is being litigated. The subpoenaed documents were useful as they were able to disprove much of what the other parent was falsely alleging as against our client, and will be able to be used as the matter progresses through the Court system to show the other parent’s habit of lying regarding child matters which will help our client’s case.
- A quite month with no Court appearances/mediations, but with many new initial consultations with clients seeking advice on property settlement, child matters, and contravention of Orders.
- This month we finished preparing for, and attended at the final hearing of the unusual defacto property settlement matter referenced at June 2019 below. We are happy to advise that our client was successful, with the Court finding the defacto relationship ended some 15 years ago, with the applicant’s case being dismissed. The client was very happy as this meant no property settlement was required to be paid to the other party.
- We finalised a property settlement matter for a client where due to the other party not having emotionally accepted the separation initiated by our client, we were required to attend at two mediations and commence Court proceedings for settlement to be reached. We were able to settle the matter with only one administrative Court appearance being required, with the client very happy that the matter was finally over. This was a good example of needing to start Court proceedings to force the other party to co-operate with finalising property settlement matters where that party did not want to do so.
- We successfully settled a high conflict, complex parenting matter at mediation, where there was a significant history of domestic violence according to the mother, all denied by the father, and with high animosity between the parties. At the end of a very long day the parties were able to reach agreement with the advice of their respective solicitors and the effective mediation skills of the mediator. A very long day, but a good result at the end of the day for the children.
- We appeared at the first Court mention date of a matter where the husband was in denial of the parties’ separation and therefore refused to meaningfully negotiate a property settlement without our client needing to start Court proceedings. The filing of Court proceedings in this instance by the wife was required to move the matter along, resulting in the parties agreeing to the matter proceeding to private mediation for final resolution. The filing of Court proceedings meant the husband could no longer delay settlement with matter subsequently settling on a final basis at mediation.
- We resolved a complex property settlement matter at mediation where large inheritances received by our client at the very end of the parties’ relationship was a significant issue in dispute. At the end of a very long day, our client was given the appropriate contribution adjustments for the inheritances received, and the matter was finally resolved without litigation being required.
- Appeared at a mediation for a father who had not seen his children in two years due to not dealing well with the parties’ separation and a decline in his mental health. The mother agreed to some initial supervised time, but ongoing time could not be agreed to, leading to the father needing to litigate the matter. The father’s application will result in a Court Order being made allowing the father time with the children, with such time to be supervised in the first instance so as to reintroduce the children to the father.
- We documented and finalised many fixed fee Consent Order documents regarding property settlement matters, where parties had reached agreement direct between them as to the division of their assets/liabilities, needing us to only document the agreement by way of Consent Order documents subsequently filed with and approved by the Family Court. A win/win for everyone. Amicable and very affordable for both parties.
- We received instructions to act on behalf of a parent in a same sex relationship, where the the other parent was not complying with a signed Parenting Order increasing the children’s time with our client. Ultimately the dispute was resolved at mediation with the parties entering into a Consent Order whereby our client’s time with the children was immediately increased, and increased in the future to equal time. A good example of why parties need to enter into binding, enforceable Consent Orders when negotiating their children’s living arrangements, rather than entering into unenforceable, non-binding Parenting Plans.
- We finalised a high conflict property settlement matter for a husband where the property settlement asset pool was small, but where the parties could not agree on the percentage split of the overall settlement or the sale terms related to the sale of the home. Ultimately, common sense prevailed and the parties reached final settlement on all issues. A good example of where some times parties with less money argue more than high net worth individuals when it comes to negotiating a property settlement, as what is available to be divided is nominal and every cent counts.
- We received instructions to act on behalf of a party in child matters where the other party suffers from diagnosed Bipolar Disorder but where the other party refuses to accept the diagnosis and refuses to be medicated. Difficult for our client in circumstances where not being medicated means reaching agreement with the other party is difficult due to the other party’s erratic and illogical behaviour. Negotiation attempts are continuing.
- After filing the application referred to in April below, the mother started complying with the Court Order and made up the father’s missed time with the children which she had not allowed, and ensured the children recommenced spending time with their father as per the Court Order. The mother agreed to continue complying with the Court Order and the father was not required to proceed with his application to final hearing.
- We received many, many enquiries regarding the Covid 19 pandemic whereby parents who lived across the border in NSW were not wanting to send their children for time with their parent in QLD, and where parents did not want their children spending time with the other parent where that parent was a Doctor/Nurse on the basis that this increased the children’s risk at being exposed to the virus. In 99% of these situations, the parents who were not allowing their children time with the other parent were incorrect in their position and we were responsible for ensuring time was complied with.
- This month saw all of Australia dealing with unprecedented times. The Covid 19 pandemic has changed our entire way of living. Unfortunately, this has also seen parents with whom children live, attempting to unfairly deny the contact parent time with their children. This is unacceptable and not permitted under the law.
- We filed an application on behalf of a father where the mother was refusing to comply with a Court Order and did not want to send the children to the father for his Court Ordered time. The mother used the pandemic as an excuse for wanting to breach the Court Order. We are awaiting the Court hearing.
- We received instructions to act on behalf of a client where possible child abuse allegations as against the other parent were made by the children. A difficult matter where the parent had to weigh up the likelihood of the children’s allegations being true as against whether the children were exaggerating. A decision was made to temporarily stop the other parent’s time with the children pending the allegations being investigated by the relevant authorities.
- The matter referred to at the second bullet point of January 2020 below was resolved by consent on a final basis between the parties, whereby the parties agreed together with the help of a family therapist, to try and improve the relationship between the father and son. Time between the father and son on a gradual basis was reintroduced.
- OFL solicitors spent time viewing webinars on how the Federal Circuit Court will now be dealing with all property settlement matters and small property settlement matters with a total net asset pool of less than $500,000.00. Many new rules and procedures to be followed, with the Court strictly enforcing the new rules and procedures so as to finalise these property matters as a matter of priority.
- We received instructions on a number of matters to legally document property settlement matters already directly agreed to between the parties. We were able to document and file the appropriate Consent Order documents in each instance very quickly at a fixed fee price and finalise the agreed property settlements within a very short time-frame.
- A busy month dealing with new initial consults, which are typically quite high in the month of January in circumstances where couples have previously decided to separate, but do not formally do so until after the Christmas period. The issues people needed help with ranged from simple property matters, complex property matters, child support matters and child matters.
- We prepared Court documents on behalf of a mother whose teenage son did not want to spend any time with his father in circumstances where the father’s behaviour both prior to and after separation had alienated the son from his father. A difficult matter where the mother did want to the son to have a relationship with his father, but where the son steadfastly refused.
- A month of winding down for OFL staff leading up to the Christmas office closure period.
- We attended at a property mediation for a wife where the husband had previously refused all reasonable property offers made by the wife. At mediation, the matter settled, and the wife received more than what she had previously offered the husband. A good example as to why all parties should always seriously consider any reasonable property settlement offers made.
- We appeared in Court at the trial of a very wealthy husband where the net asset pool was in the millions. The preparation leading up to this trial was very, very significant. The preparation paid off as we were able to provide at Court all necessary documents required to support the husband’s assertions/counteract the wife’s arguments. The Court decision is still pending.
- We successfully appeared in Court on behalf of a father seeking substantial time with his son in circumstances where time needed to take place in accordance with the father’s work roster. The mother was opposed to this. We successfully negotiated on behalf of the father on a final basis, more time than the mother was initially willing to give him, with such time to take place pursuant to the father’s work roster.
- We appeared in Court on behalf of a father seeking that shared time with his daughter continue, in circumstances where the mother attempted to unilaterally reduce the father’s time. No Order was made on the Court date reducing the father’s time as sought by the mother, with the parties subsequently negotiating on a final basis an Order whereby the daughter continued living with both parties on an shared care basis.
- We appeared in Court on behalf of a father whose former partner was refusing to enter into a Court Order by consent documenting their son’s living arrangements. The father was left with no choice other than to commence Court proceedings. At the first Court date, the mother not only agreed to document the child’s arrangements by an agreed Court Order, but also agreed to increase the father’s time with the child.
- We received urgent instructions to act on behalf of a mother where the father separated their two young children, and unilaterally retained one child in his sole care, separating the two siblings, even though the mother had been the primary carer of both children since birth and after separation. We managed to obtain an urgent Court date within days of the father retaining the child, at which the father agreed to return the child to the mother, and where the parties reached agreement on the terms of a final Court Order whereby the mother remained the primary carer for both children.
- We settled at mediation on a final basis a very high conflict property settlement and children’s matter where the parties had continued living under the same roof after separation and where they had very different versions as to who was providing what care for the children. Prior to the mediation the parties were involved in domestic violence proceedings and were highly distrustful of each other. With the hard work of both their solicitors and an excellent mediator, against all odds, and after 9 hours of negotiation, the matter resolved by agreement at mediation.
- Our junior Solicitor Mikaela Jordan attended an invaluable conference regarding Court-room advocacy skills with hands on tips from Judges, which will no doubt be of benefit to our clients.
- Preparation commenced for the drafting of Court material regarding a very high wealth contested property settlement. The parties cannot agree on the percentage to be applied to the division of their wealth, with the Court needing to determine the matter. The issue arises as to whether the bread winner should be awarded more than 50% due to the breadwinner’s greater financial contribution. Watch this space.
- We obtained a final Court Order in default of a father’s appearance, providing sole primary care to the mother, in circumstances where the father had previously been the children’s primary carer due to mental health issues suffered by the mother. Sadly for the children, the father decided he no longer wanted to have a relationship with the children after the Court Ordered that the children live with the mother.
- We settled a complex property settlement matter at mediation where the parties had been separated for 10 years and matrimonial funds had been inter mingled with post-separation property acquisitions. The matter had been ongoing for some years and our client was very happy that the matter was finalised with all financial ties severed.
- We obtained instructions to act on behalf of a client who asserts that the parties’ defacto relationship ended some 15 years ago, with the other party asserting the relationship ended 2 years ago. The Court will need to determine when the relationship ended before proceeding further. If our client is successful, the case will be over with no defacto property settlement claim existing.
- We settled a property settlement matter by way of Consent Orders for a very wealthy client with a net pool in excess of $10,000,000.00, where both parties were sensible, resulting in a just and equitable outcome for both. The settlement was finalised at a small cost to the client given both parties were willing to negotiate a resolution quickly.
- We received instructions to act on behalf of a father with his matter involving property settlement, children and child support issues. The father intends to relocate overseas, raising the issue of the jurisdiction of the Child Support Agency overseas and the father’s obligations. We were able to successfully negotiate regular time between the father and child where the father had been denied such time by the mother.
- We appeared in Court on behalf of a mother involved in a very complex children’s matter where the children had not seen their father for some time due to serious allegations of family violence as against the father. We prepared thoroughly for this appearance and had independent subpoenaed evidence to be submitted to the Court supporting the mother’s claims. The parties consented to an interim supervised contact order being in place pending the preparation of a Family Report.
- We drafted and finalised on an urgent basis Consent Order documents for a client finalising both property and children’s matters where the other party had been refusing to negotiate or formalise a settlement on any issue. Once our client was able to convince the other party to do so, we managed to draft the Consent Order documents in record time including very detailed child Orders and property Orders favourable to our client before the other party changed their mind. Had the documents not been drafted as quickly, it is likely the agreement would not have been formalised.
- We attended at mediation with our client whose parents had gifted to the parties hundreds and thousands of dollars where the other party tried to deny such gifts which were easily proven by the provision of bank statements. After a difficult start to the mediation, we managed to settle property matters on a final basis, with our client receiving a just and equitable adjustment for the contribution made by her side of the family.
- We were involved in a settlement conference regarding a Wills and Estate dispute where a party to property settlement proceedings died during the Court proceedings. The matter settled shortly after the settlement conference along the lines suggested by us so as to finalise the matter with the Estate not needing to fund thousands of dollar in legal fees.