The recent United States of America case of Rich and Mary-Beth Zelasko & Zelasko demonstrates the importance of finalising your property settlement after separation.
Mr. Rich Zelasko was ordered to pay $15 million to his wife who he had been separated for more than two (2) years. This decision may come as a surprise to many however, there has been similar decisions made in Australia in relation to lottery winnings after separation.
Read more: Ex-spouse ordered to hand over half of his lottery winnings
In the High Court decision of Masson v Parson  HCA 21 made 19 June 2019, Mr. Masson successfully appealed against a decision that as a sperm donor, he was not a "parent" of a child.
In 2006 Mr. Masson provided his semen to the biological mother of the child in the belief that he would, as the child's parent, be named on the child's birth certificate as her father and would support and care for her.
Read more: Sperm Donor Recognised as a "Parent"
Under the Terms of Contract for Buyers of Residential Property
In the majority of Contracts to buy residential property, the Seller will require that the Buyer pay a Deposit. The Deposit is a small fraction of the Purchase Price and shows some commitment that the Buyer is serious about purchasing the Property. It seems pretty basic – the Buyer pays an agreed amount. That amount sits in an account not to be touched again until either the Contract is terminated or settlement is completed. Easy, right? Mostly it is easy, but there are some traps that you can be caught by, if the terms for payment of the Deposit are not complied with.
Read more: Payment of Deposit
The rise of the "fur baby" as an alternative to having children has been highlighted in a recent family law case.
In Downey & Beale (not Beagle), the Federal Circuit Court was asked to determine who was the owner of the dog, (name and breed omitted for privacy apparently so we'll call him Spot).
After a five-year relationship, Spot's parents managed to reach agreement about the division of all of their assets, including their jointly owned home, but neither could bear to part with their fur baby.
Read more: Fur baby in family law tug-o-war
"Pre-nups" have been made famous by famous people. You can be sure that the likes of the Kardashians and the Rhineharts and the Murdochs wouldn't walk down the aisle without one. But does your average wage earner need one, and if they do, are they worth the paper they are written on?
In short, yes and yes.
Whilst we don't have too many celebrities knocking on our door in Toowoomba to draft their pre-nups, they are becoming increasingly common for your average couple. A pre-nup - otherwise known as a Financial Agreement under the Family Law Act - can be entered into before or during a marriage or a defacto relationship. We especially recommend them in these scenarios:
Read more: The Importance of Pre-Nuptial Agreements
Up until June 2017, the end of a de facto relationship did not have any impact on any Will which the couple might have made during their relationship. That meant that if they neglected to make new Wills, their old Wills (which usually left everything to their former partner) remained effective.
We once acted for a son and daughter who were to receive nothing from their late father's Estate as he had neglected to change his Will after the very bitter end of his de facto relationship. He died eight years after he finalised a property settlement with his former spouse but that had no impact on his Will, which left everything to her. The result was that his children had to engage in a long and costly legal process in order to get any benefit from his Estate.
Read more: What happens to your Will when your relationship ends
IF YOU ANSWER YES TO THESE QUESTIONS YOU MAY JUST WANT TO READ THIS VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION!!
As a Seller of residential Property, your main responsibility is to ensure that ownership of the Property can be transferred to the Buyer immediately after Settlement. For Sellers who have a mortgage over the Property, this means that you need to arrange for that mortgage to be released. This blog will explain how you can obtain the all-important release of mortgage, it will take a brief look at the ramifications if you don’t have it available at settlement, and we will let you know the magical, mind-blowing secret to making sure you will have the release ready on time, every time*.
Read more: Are you selling your property
Enduring Power of Attorney: What is it and do I require one?*
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?
There are two types of Power of Attorney – the Enduring Power of Attorney and the General Power of Attorney.
An Enduring Power of Attorney allows health, personal and/or financial affairs to be dealt with in the way you wish, even (and particularly) if you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself. For example, if you suffer a head injury, develop dementia etc.
Read more: Enduring Power of Attorney - What is it
I recently did an initial consultation with a Family Law client. Hers was not an unfamiliar story. She had been reluctant to go to a lawyer (for a variety of reasons) but expressed feeling a great sense of relief and empowerment once she had actually done so. When she shared that with me I told her that I would love to be able to reach out to more people in her situation that could benefit from the peace of mind of just knowing what their rights, entitlements and options are. In response, she provided the following testimonial:
"Divorce is emotional and unchartered territory. I was hoping to settle assets with little drama and in the best interest of both my Ex and I. It's tricky, even with the best of intentions and relationships.
Read more: Family Law testimonial
What is an Advanced Health Directive and should I have one?
An Advanced Health Directive (AHD) clearly states what sort of medical treatment you do and do not want to receive if you are seriously ill and comes into effect when you are unable to make your own decisions. You may also set out preferences about organ donation and life sustaining medical treatment.
How an AHD works:
- You will out a form with general or specific wishes for treatment; and
- Your General Practitioner certifies that you understand the choices you have made; and
- Treating medical staff will subsequently refer to your AHD if you can no longer make decisions for yourself.
Read more: What is an Advanced Health Directive