Family Law

  • Child support – what is the legal amount? What is the correct amount?

    Recently there have been complaints in the news from a mistress who is disputing with a well known former cricketer how much child support he should be paying.  According to newspaper reports he says he is paying the assessed amount and she says he should be paying her more. How can this happen?

    The Child Support Agency has a set formula for child support payments.  It is based on a number of variables, including a party’s tax return.  It is well known that tax returns may not be the final say in how much money a person takes home.

  • Have you heeded the warning? Maintenance is payable to ex partners

    In a previous blog we indicated that the Federal Government had decided to treat separating couples in the same way whether they were married or not - proof has no come to pass. The Federal Government isn’t interested in the fact that you chose to not marry. Married; not married, all the same provided you lived together for 2 years or have a child of the relationship.

  • DNA & Paternity Testing: One Test, Many Implications

    A newspaper recently reported that from January 2007 to April 2010, 48 men have won back a total of $434,378.64 assessed by the Child Support Agency.  These men used DNA testing to prove they were not biological fathers of the children they had been supporting. 

    Under the Child Support (Assessment) Act a man can apply for a refund of Child Support, if it is subsequently established that he is not father of the child concerned.  This can heavily penalise a child financially, through no fault of their own.

  • The cricketer and the model: A Hypothetical

    You may have heard some discussion of a property settlement between a prominent Australian cricketer and his former model fiancée.  The circumstances set out below are based only on media reports and set out as a hypothetical, given we have little idea of the true details.

    As set out in previous ‘blogs (see 9 and 16 September 2009), to apply for property distribution orders under the Family Law Act a de facto couple must either:

  • Family Court & Appalling Behavior

    In a decision that confirms the worst nightmares of many non-custodial parents, Her Honour Justice Bennett in Wang v Dennison (No 2) declined to Order that the parties two young children live with or spend any time with their father despite some astounding findings.

    Her Honour found the mother had “purposefully conditioned the children to believe that they had been sexually abused by their father when they had not” and that she had done so “in order to cut the father out of the lives of the children".

  • Parenting Laws Review – What Are The Problems And What Are The Solutions?

    On 28 January 2010 the Attorney General released three reports regarding the 2006 Parenting Reforms to the Family Law Act ('the Act'), by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, the Family Law Council of the Law Council of Australia and Prof Richard Chisolm respectively.  They have been reported as concluding:

  • I just want a divorce - what do I do?

    The short answer is to visit www.fmc.gov.au/forms/html/divorce.htlm.  However, this ‘blog will provide something of a context for Divorce Applications and their repercussions.

  • We’re separated: Where do the kids spend Christmas?

    Christmas may be a time for family breakdown, but after separation it is even harder to arrange the day.  Each year the Family Court of Australia puts out a deadline (usually mid-November) after which it cannot guarantee applications for Christmas parenting time will be heard.  The smartest thing to do when planning Christmas is to make arrangements early. 

  • Pre-Nuptial Agreements - What could go wrong?

    You may know that since December 2000, binding pre-nuptial Financial Agreements have been able to be made under the Family Law Act.  These can now apply to married and de facto couples.  Financial Agreements are designed to prevent future claims being made in Court for property settlements and maintenance for a partner (but not to prevent child support claims).

  • Spousal Maintenance for an estranged Defacto Partner!

    Recent changes in the Family Law Act enable a defacto partner to successfully claim maintenance from their partner. In Vine & Carey The Court found the parties had lived in a defacto relationship for more than two years and as the relationship had broken down after the new legislation took effect from 1 March 2009 the female partner could claim maintenance from her now estranged former male partner.