Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Appeal, Child Care Benefit, Family Assistance, Family Tax Benefit, Family Tax Benefit Part A, Family Tax Benefit Part B, SchoolKids bonus, Social Security Fraud
Judges:  C Ermert Member


Background: From 2003 over the course of a decade, the woman was overpaid family tax and childcare benefits, and the Schoolkids bonus because of incorrect Centrelink computer coding. The woman contacted Centrelink in 2011 after her husband received a sizable pay rise, querying whether she was still entitled to the payments. Centrelink ruled she was, but three years later the agency discovered its error and asked her to repay the money, which the woman then disputed. 
 
  [Legal Issue]The woman was alerted by Centrelink to the overpayments on July 2012, but kept on receiving the overpayments. The woman asserted she should not have to repay the overpayed amounts, including the amounts paid prior to July 2012, and the amounts paid after July 2012, because the debts had resulted solely from errors made by Centrelink.   [Court Orders]Tribunal member Conrad Ermert agreed the woman should not have to repay the $77,000 paid to her before July 2012, finding Centrelink raised the issue too late and the woman had received them in good faith. "There is no evidence that [she] held any suspicions or doubts that she was not entitled to the payments. She said in evidence that she simply trusted the Department to make the correct payments," Mr Ermert said. But he found the woman was still required to repay the money received after     


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Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Appeal, Child Support, Departure Determination
Judges:  May JStrickland JThackray CJ


Background: The appellant father in this case sought a review of a child support departure determination and a subsequent Social Security Appeals Tribunal decision which both determined an increased taxable income for child support purposes. The father’s appeal to the Federal Circuit Court on this matter was dismissed and the father now seeks to appeal that decision. 
 
  [Legal Issue]This was an application for leave to appeal from the dismissal of an appeal from the Social Security Appeals Tribunal which increased the appellant’s taxable income for child support purposes. The application was dismissed with costs. In its judgment, the court analysed and determined a number of significant questions of law arising out of the interpretation of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) which would be of interest to family law specialists.   [Court Orders]The appeal application was dismissed. The Court found no error in law by failing to refer to s 117(7A) of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth). No issue of procedural fairness arises – Application for leave to appeal dismissed – Appellant father ordered to pay costs.     


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Full Court of the Family Court of 

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3: Re: Jamie [2013] FamCAFC 110 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Appeal, Gender Identity Dysphoria
Judges:  Bryant CJFinn JStrickland J


Background: The child concerned, “Jamie”, aged almost 11 years at the time of hearing, was diagnosed as having childhood gender identity disorder. At first instance, the parents were asking the court to authorise them to consent to treatment on behalf of Jamie, under the guidance of Jamie’s treating medical practitioners, for the administration of particular drugs designed to achieve suppression of certain hormones affecting the development of male features and particularly the onset of male puberty. The treatment, which occurs in two stages, comprises administration of puberty-suppressant hormones (stage one) and oestrogen (stage two), and is common to children who are diagnosed with this condition. The treatment would enable Jamie, born a male, to live in her affirmed sex as a female. 
 
  [Legal Issue]The first ground asserts that childhood gender identity disorder is not a special medical procedure which displaces the parental responsibility of the Appellants to decide upon the appropriate treatment for their child. The second ground, in the alternative, asserts that the Applicant Mother and Applicant Father be authorised to consent to the following special medical procedures on behalf of their child, ... (“Jamie”), being (i) he administration of puberty suppressant hormones, and (ii) additional treatment of oestrogen as may be considered appropriate by Jamie’s treating Endocrinologist.   [Court Orders]The appeal be allowed. Order 1 of the orders made by the Honourable Justice Dessau on 28 March 2011 be set aside. There be no order for costs.     


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Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Appeal, Binding Financial Agreement, Binding Financial Agreement, Pre-Nuptial Agreement
Judges:  Finn JRyan JStrickland J


Background: A couple, known by the court as Mr Wallace and Ms Stelzer, met in 1998 at the Sydney club where Ms Stelzer worked soon after Mr Wallace split from his first wife. At the time, he was 51 and she was 38. They married seven years later and entered into a prenuptial agreement that Mr Wallace would pay Ms Stelzer $3.25m if the relationship failed within four years. It failed within two.  
 
  [Legal Issue]Mr Wallace tried to renege on their pre-nuptial (binding financial) agreement, arguing that the relevant legislation was unconstitutional because it was retrospective. He argued that his pre-nuptial agreement was signed before the 2010 amendments and so his agreement should be deemed invalid. Mr Wallace also fought to have the pre-nuptial agreement deemed invalid, claiming that Ms Stelzer behaved fraudulently by making "false promises of love and desire for children". He also said his lawyers did not give him adequate legal advice and make clear the pros and cons of the pre-nuptial agreement. He said that his lawyers had taken only minutes to sign it.    [Court Orders]The Full Court of the Family Court ruled the pre-nuptial agreement was binding and that the amended legislation "can have a retrospective operation which is constitutionally valid". The woman who previously worked as a pole dancer is set to receive $3.25 million from her ex-husband after the Family Court ruled against his bid to have their pre-nuptial agreement overturned because of her "false promises". The ruling means that there is much more certainty about the validity of pre-nuptial a     


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High Court of Australia
5: Stanford v Stanford [2012] HCA 52 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Appeal, Proceedings to Alter Property Interests, Property, Property Settlement
Judges:  Bell JFrench CJHayne JHeydon J


Background: The husband and wife married in 1971. In December 2008, the wife suffered a stroke and moved into full time residential care. She was later diagnosed with dementia. The husband continued to provide for her care and set aside money in a bank account to meet the costs of her medical needs or requirements. He continued to live in the matrimonial home. In 2009, the wife (by one of her daughters as case guardian) applied to the Family Court for orders altering interests in the marital property between the wife and her husband. Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), a court can make a property settlement order if it is "just and equitable" to do so. At first instance, a magistrate ordered that the husband pay his wife $612,931, which represented the amount assessed as her contribution to the ma 
 
  [Legal Issue]The wife (on behalf of one of her daughters as case guardians), sought to have the family home sold, and half the proceedings to go to the daughters. The legal pretext to this action was the albeit involuntary physical separation of the couple. The husband was still residing in the family home, while the wife was moved into full time residential care because of a stroke and dementia. The husband argued that the bare fact of physical separation, when involuntary, does not on its own make it just and equitable to make a property settlement order.   [Court Orders]The Court held that there was no basis to conclude that it would have been just and equitable to make a property settlement order had the wife been alive. She had not expressed a wish to divide the property, a property settlement order would require the husband to sell the matrimonial home, in which he still lived, and the Full Court had found, on the material before the magistrate, that her needs were being met or could be met by a maintenance order. The bare fact of physical separation, when i     


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Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Appeal, Biological Mother, Birth Mother, Contravention, Meaningful Relationship, Non-Parent, Parentage, Parental, Parental Rights, Parenting Orders, Relocation, Same Sex Parents, Same Sex Relationship, Step Parent
Judges:  Coleman JJarrett FMMay JWarnick J


Background: Two women had lived in an intimate relationship for 9 years and two children were born during this time using IVF, with each woman being the biological parent of one child (same sex relationship). One woman then left the relationship taking her birth child with her. Orders were issued for the two children to spend significant time with the other woman and to see their sibling. One woman then relocated further away making the order impractical and the other woman appealed arguing that the first woman was not facilitating an ongoing meaningful relationship between her and the child whom she considered that she had parented.  
 
  [Legal Issue]Each woman claimed to be a parent of the other’s child, although the trial judge found to the contrary as only a biological parent or an adoptive parent meets the legal definition of being a parent. Both women submitted that each child regarded each of the women as a mother. The Appeal Court found that if a child is born by an artificial conception procedure while the woman is married to a man and the procedure is carried out with the joint consent of both adults, then the child is their child for the purposes of the Act, or both the woman and man are parents of the child. The Appeal Court supported the ruling by the trial judge that the women were not parents of the child whom they did not give birth to (non-parent). The appeal was dismissed.   [Court Orders]The Appeal Court supported the ruling by the trial judge that the women were not parents of the child whom they did not give birth to (non-parent). The appeal was dismissed.     


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10: Goode & Goode [2006] FamCA 1346 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Appeal, Equal Parenting Time, Equal Shared Parental Responsibility, Interim Parenting Orders, Parenting Orders, Shared Parenting, Sole Parental Responsibility, Substantial and Significant Time
Judges:  Boland JBryant CJFinn J


Background: The parties were married in July 1996 and although there was a separation in December 1999 they finally separated in late May 2006. While there was some dispute as to the circumstances of the separation, the facts allowed the judge at first instance to find that the appellant father chose to leave the matrimonial home and bring the marriage to an end. Thereafter there was some dispute as to what happened in relation to the care of the children. Collier J recorded that the respondent mother asserted that after a period of time the parties reached an agreement and the appellant father commenced spending time with the children on each alternate weekend. The appellant father’s case was that the respondent mother removed the children from him and made it very difficult for him to have 
 
  [Legal Issue]This is an appeal by the father against a decision for interim orders. In this case the Judge in the previous decision did not apply the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility, as stipulated in the family law act, nor did he consider what was in the child's best interests, as listed in the primary and additional considerations in the family law act. Instead the Judge applied the principle previously determined in Cowling v Cowling [1998] FamCA 19, commonly referred to as the "Status Quo". The principle of Status Quo determined that if a child was in a well-settled environment, the child's arrangements should not be altered. As such, the Judge determined that in interim hearings, the Status Quo should be the prevailing principle, not what was determined to be in the    [Court Orders]The Full Court of the Family Court determined that the appeal was successful, and that: (1) The presumption that an order for equal shared parental responsibility will be in the child’s best interests still applies in interim cases, even if neither party asks for such an order. (2) Where that presumption is applied, the Court must still, at an interim hearing, consider the practicality of the child spending equal time with each of the parents under Section 65AA of the Act. (3) Even wh     


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