Canberra Family Lawyer

The Justice Project: Pro bono work – improving access to justice

By Gianna Huesch

Access to justice is a topic currently under the microscope in Australia, with the Justice Project, a national review being conducted into the impediments to access to justice, expected to reveal its findings by the end of this month.

One of the ways our firm seeks to contribute to greater access to justice for all Australians is through our pro bono work. The term “pro bono” comes from the Latin phrase, “pro bono publico” which translates as “for the public good”, and refers to legal work undertaken without charge for a client on low income.  Unlike in some countries, where lawyers are mandated to complete a certain number of hours per year of pro bono work, in Australia there is no official obligation to undertake pro bono work, just a moral one. Continue reading

Public kept in loop on family law review with new newsletter

By Gianna Huesch

An e-newsletter has been launched by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) as part of its public consultation process for its review of the family law system. The family law review, led by Melbourne Law School’s Professor Helen Rhoades, was announced earlier this year and is now at the preliminary stage of initial research and consultations. Continue reading

Can a focus on arbitration help change the landscape of family law?

By Gianna Huesch

Excruciatingly long delays in the family court system often prompt family law practitioners to urge clients to consider their Alternate Dispute Resolution options, in particular the too often-overlooked process known as arbitration.

Now, family lawyers have expressed a new hope that the Australian Law Reform Commission’s current sweeping family law review will “rework the system” to create a “desperately needed paradigm shift” which will ensure arbitration becomes a much more common choice, helping to free up the backlog in the family court system. Continue reading

Custody: Shared care – the need for kids to have a meaningful relationship with both parents

By Gianna Huesch

An article in The Australian has explored the outcome of a recent case in the family court, wherein custody of two children was abruptly switched from their mother to their father.  The original trial was heard in 2015 and the appeal, which upheld the trial judge’s orders, was heard in September this year.

The children had been living with their mother since birth and their father had been granted access under orders, but the mother had failed to facilitate the contact and had eventually terminated contact with the father completely.  The court has now put in place orders whereby the children live with their father and may only have supervised contact with their mother once a fortnight in a contact centre. Continue reading

More funding for services for women suffering from domestic violence

By Gianna Huesch

The Turnbull Government admirably continues to build on its reputation for confronting the scourge of violence against women with the announcement of further funding to deliver more services to women suffering from family and domestic violence.

In an expansion of the existing pilot program delivering targeted services to women through specialist domestic violence units, the attorney-general George Brandis has revealed the Government’s new allocation of $3.4 million in funding to create another six specialist units in several areas deemed most in need of services.

At present, 12 domestic violence units have been in operation since early 2016, and in the 18 months since, have provided more than 7600 discreet services to at least 2800 clients. Continue reading

New blitz on family court case backlog

By Gianna Huesch

Families and family law practitioners alike will welcome the news that the freshly sworn in chief judge of the Federal Circuit Court, Will Alstergren, has vowed he plans to prioritise reducing the time that it takes for families to have their matters proceed and be resolved through the court system.

At present, there is a much publicised backlog of family law cases in the court system that has forced families to wait for up to three years for outcomes to be delivered in their parenting and property disputes. Continue reading

Beat the Christmas rush in the courts

By Gianna Huesch

It’s that time of year again when we remind our clients of the typical surge in applications filed in the Family Court and Federal Circuit Courts and therefore the need to act without delay if you are to beat the Christmas rush.

Many families wish to seek a hearing at this time of year in relation to disputes over custody during the Christmas holiday period or overseas travel issues, leading to a greater than usual number of applications being filed in the courts, in the system which is already typically clogged. Continue reading

Case study: Is the biological father a sperm donor or the child’s legal parent?

By Gianna Huesch

Rainbow families may be particularly interested in the case recently heard in the Family Court, involving a gay man, two lesbians and two children, a 10 year old girl being the biological offspring of the gay man, and a 9 year old being the biological offspring of an anonymous sperm donor.

In the case of Masson & Parsons and Anor, the court was required to determine who was the legal parent of the 10 year old daughter in the context of “a bitter argument over who are her legal parents”, given the term “parent” is not exclusively defined in the Family Law Act 1975 (the Act). Continue reading

Pre-nups and fairness

Hot off the press is news the High Court has released its first decision about pre-nups and fairness.

Pre-nups is the common term used to describe Financial Agreements which encompasses both pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements. In its decision, the High Court upheld a previous decision to set aside both a pre-nuptial agreement and post-nuptial agreement because. In short the High Court agreed that those agreements weren’t fair. They were entered into through undue influence and unconscionable conduct. Continue reading

Top tips on balancing divorce and work

Divorce and work

Balancing divorce and work is not easy

Balancing divorce and work is not easy but a recent article in Fast Company has some useful advice on managing your relationship breakdown/divorce and your job.

While it’s tempting to want to keep all the intimate details about your personal relationships completely private and separate from work, it’s suggested that there is good reason for you to have at least some confidential discussions about your relationship breakdown with your boss and/or HR personnel in your workplace. Continue reading

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