Most Recent Decisions

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Re Cresswell [2018] QSC 142
Assisted Reproduction • In Vitro Fertilisation • Parens Patriae • Posthumous Sperm Donation • Sperm Donation • Succession
A Queensland woman applied to the Qld Supreme Court in Brisbane for the right to use her dead boyfriend’s sperm to have a baby.
Council of the Law Society of NSW v Berger (No. 2) [2018] NSWCATOD 4
Legal fees • Professional Misconduct • Removal from Roll
The Civil and Administrative Tribunal of NSW ordered Mr Berger be removed from the roll of local lawyers, after finding him guilty of a wide range of conduct, including overcharging in the case of Mrs N, misappropriation of funds from various estates, and failing to disclose costs.
Simic & Norton [2017] FamCA 1007
Costs • Lawyer Complaints • Legal fees • Professional Misconduct
A Family Court judge has delivered a blistering judgment on the “culture of bitter, adversarial and highly aggressive family law litigation” in Sydney and blasted two law firms for charging “outrageous” fees.
Thorne v Kennedy [2017] HCA 49
Appeal • Binding Financial Agreement • Binding Financial Agreement • Post-Nuptial Agreement • Pre-Nuptial Agreement • Pre-Nuptial Agreement
1.Appeal allowed. 2.Set aside the orders of the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia made on 26 September 2016 and, in their place, order that the appeal to that Court be dismissed with costs. 3.The respondent pay the appellant's costs of the appeal to this Court.
Toh v Su [2017] NSWLC 10
Contributions • Property
The defendant is to deliver to the plaintiff the two wedding bands and pay the plaintiff $1,000
Calvin & McTier [2017] FamCAFC 125
Divorce • Inheritance • Inheritance • Property • Property
This case was on the treatment of property acquired after separation, where the husband received a substantial inheritance four years after the parties separated. They key question was whether the trial magistrate erred by including the inheritance (which was received 4 years after the divorce) among the assets to be divided between the parties.
Stewart & Stewart [2017] FamCAFC 67
Appeal • Child Support • Departure Determination • extra-curricular activities • School Fees • Sole Parental Responsibility
The parents could not agree on where their primary school-aged son and daughter should go to high school. The mother has taken her ex-husband to Court, on appeal, to compel him to pay for their children to attend private school at the cost of approximately $50,000 per year in annual fees.
Omari v Yassine (Civil Dispute) [2016] ACAT 112
Breach of Promise • Jurisdiction • Property
A Canberra man launched legal action against his former fiancee in a bid to recoup the money he’d spent on her engagement ring after their relationship broke down. The man had first contacted the Melbourne woman and her parents with a view to marriage in late 2014 and they got engaged the following year.
Kennedy & Thorne [2016] FamCAFC 189
Binding Financial Agreement • Binding Financial Agreement • Post-Nuptial Agreement • Pre-Nuptial Agreement • Pre-Nuptial Agreement
He was a multi-millionaire, she was his much younger Eastern European bride who spoke little English. The couple met online in 2006 on a “website for potential brides” when the husband was 67 and she was 36. Soon after he met the wife online, he told her that if they married, “you will have to sign paper. My money is for my children.” These legal proceedings are about the wife disputing the validity of the pre-nuptial (and subsequent post-nuptial agreements) signed between the two.
Janssen & Janssen [2016] FamCA 345
Discretion to Admit Evidence • Evidence • Recorded conversations
This case is about the admissibility of audio recordings and transcripts of the audio recordings made by the mother of exchanges between the her and the father where the recordings were made without the knowledge or consent of the father. The Court found that the audio recordings fall within the exception contained within the Surveillance Devices Act 2007 (NSW), as the recordings were reasonably necessary to protect the lawful interests of the mother.
Re Estate of Wai Fun CHAN, Deceased [2015] NSWSC 1107
Succession • Wills
A dying woman sat in her kitchen, delivering "motherly exhortations" and her last will and testament to a video camera. The NSW Supreme Court had to determine whether this video Will was a valid Will.
Watson & Burton [2015] FamCA 549
Allegations of Child Abuse • Emotional Abuse • Equal Shared Parental Responsibility • False Allegations of Child Abuse • Parental Disorders • Risk of Psychological Harm • Sole Parental Responsibility • Unacceptable Risk • Unsubstantiated Allegations
FAMILY LAW – CHILDREN – sole parental responsibility – where equal time not in children’s best interest – where mother poses a psychological risk to children – where mother made a number of false allegations of sexual abuse by the father and previous partners – where the Family Report writer did not consider the effect of the mother’s allegations upon the father.
Huffman & Gorman [2015] FamCA 317
Allegations of Child Abuse • Emotional Abuse • Entrenched Parental Conflict • False Allegations of Child Abuse • Meaningful Relationship • Parental Disorders • Property • Psychological Disorders • Recorded conversations • Risk of Psychological Harm • Unacceptable Risk • Unsubstantiated Allegations • With whom a child lives with
This matter concerns the long term parenting arrangements for L who is eight, S who is six and Z who is four, the three children of Ms Gorman (“the mother”) and Mr Huffman (“the father”) who separated after a five year marriage. Following the breakdown of the parents’ relationship, the children continued to live with their mother.
Corby & Corby [2015] FCCA 1099
Evidence • Recorded conversations
Corby and Corby regarded the use of four non-consensual audio recordings between the parties as evidence in a custody hearing. The applicant, the mother in the estranged partnership, contended that the respondent was sexually coercive, intimidating and physically violent during their relationship.
McMurray and Secretary, Department of Social Services [2015] AATA 159
Appeal • Child Care Benefit • Family Assistance • Family Tax Benefit • Family Tax Benefit Part A • Family Tax Benefit Part B • SchoolKids bonus • Social Security Fraud
A woman paid more than $94,000 in Federal Government benefits following a Centrelink error will be required to repay less than 20 per cent of that, according to a tribunal decision.
Helbig & Rowe [2015] FamCA 146
Allegations of Child Abuse • Child Abuse • Complaint against ICL • Emotional Abuse • False Allegations of Child Abuse • Falsified Documents • Risk of Psychological Harm • Sole Parental Responsibility • Unacceptable Risk • Unsubstantiated Allegations
The mother has made serious allegations of child sexual abuse by the father against a child of the marriage. The allegations were deemed to be 'false'. The family report went so far as to recommend that the children be 'immediately' removed from the mother's care because of her unrepentant beliefs that the father was a paedophile who had harmed the children.
Thorne & Kennedy [2015] FCCA 484
Post-Nuptial Agreement • Pre-Nuptial Agreement
Just prior to their wedding, the couple signed a pre-nuptial agreement. Soon after the wedding, the couple signed a second agreement, reinforcing the agreement as to how the husband's wealth was to be apportioned, in the event of a divorce. Years later, the couple proceeded to separate and then divorce, with the husband dying soon afterwards.
Mead -v- Lemon [2015] WASC 71
Family Provision • High Value Estates • Large Estate • Wills & Probate
The third daughter of late mining heir Michael Wright has succeeded in her bid to extract much more than she was left from his will, with a judge ruling she should get $25 million.
Thornton & Thornton [2015] FamCA 92
Allegations of Child Abuse • False Allegations of Child Abuse • Recorded conversations • Unacceptable Risk • Unsubstantiated Allegations
A QUEENSLAND mother who claimed her young daughters had been sexually abused by their father has been handed sole parental responsibility for the girls, even though the Family Court found no truth to the allegations.
Yip & Wreford and Anor [2015] FamCAFC 21
Appeal • Child Support • Departure Determination
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.
Wands & Vine [2015] FCCA 221
Contravention • Obstruction of Contact with Child • Parenting Orders
The mother was found to have contravened the Orders and obstructed contact between the child and the father. The mother was required to enter into a bond and pay the father's costs. The father was also provided make-up time.
Kristoff & Emerson [2015] FCCA 13
Briginshaw test • Contributions • De Facto Relationship • De Facto Relationships • Meaningful Relationship • Proceedings to Alter Property Interests • Property • Substantial Relationship
The case involved a sex worker who made a claim for a property order against a former client turned partner of 8 years. The applicant alleged that she lived in a de facto relationship with the respondent from 2003 until 2011.
Ridgely & Stiller [2014] FCCA 2668
Emotional Abuse • Equal Shared Parental Responsibility • Meaningful Relationship • Obstruction of Contact with Child • Parental Alienation • Parenting Orders • Risk of Psychological Harm • Sole Parental Responsibility • Substantial and Significant Time • Unacceptable Risk • With whom a child spends time with
A judge recently took the “drastic step” of ordering that a girl, eight, who had lived with her mother since her parents separated when she was 13 months, instead live with her father.
Re: Jamie [2013] FamCAFC 110
Appeal • Gender Identity Dysphoria
Is treatment of childhood gender identity disorder a medical procedure which requires court authorisation pursuant to the court’s welfare jurisdiction under s 67ZC?
Mitchell & Mitchell [2014] FCCA 2526
Child Abuse • Emotional Abuse • failure to call witness and Jones & Dunkel inference • Hostile Parental Behaviour • Interim Parenting Orders • Jones & Dunkel inference • Meaningful Relationship • Obstruction of Contact with Child • Parental Alienation • Risk of Psychological Harm • Sole Parental Responsibility • Supervised contact with Child • Unacceptable Risk • With whom a child lives with • With whom a child spends time with
The father has conceded that he has denied the children their right to a meaningful relationship with their mother, as well as exposing the children to repeated derogatory comments towards his ex-wife and her lesbian partner,
Regan & Walsh [2014] FCCA 2535
De Facto Relationships • Meaningful Relationship • Same Sex Relationship • Substantial Relationship
The relationship was not found to be de facto in nature. Mr Regan’s application was dismissed and it was held that the Court could not make orders altering the parties’ property ownership.
Huffman & Gorman (No. 2) [2014] FamCA 1077
Allegations of Child Abuse • Discretion to Admit Evidence • Emotional Abuse • Recorded conversations
At issue is the admissibility of transcripts of covertly recorded conversations made by the father, alleged to have captured various unguarded conversations between the mother and the father.
Garzelli & Lewis (No. 3) [2014] FamCA 742
Emotional Abuse • False Allegations of Child Abuse • Parental Alienation • Parental Disorders • Psychological Disorders • Risk of Psychological Harm • Unsubstantiated Allegations
It was suggested that a diagnoses of Borderline or Schizoid personality style or Asperger’s Spectrum Disorder was very likely, exposing the child to likely Parentified Child behaviours, which would force the child to align with the mother and abandon her relationship with her father, so as to meet the mother's increasingly demanding emotional needs and desires.
Kennon v Spry; Spry v Kennon [2008] HCA 56
Family Trust • Wills & Probate
Family law – Courts having jurisdiction in matrimonial causes – Powers – Jurisdiction under s 79(1) of Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) to make orders – "Proceedings with respect to the property of the parties to the marriage or either of them" – Definition of "property" of parties to marriage – Whether right of wife with respect to due administration of trust and discretionary power of husband to appoint whole of trust assets to wife constituted part of the property of the parties to the marriage.
Flacks & Chatburn [2014] FamCA 428
Emotional Abuse • Enmeshment • False Allegations of Child Abuse • Hearsay • Meaningful Relationship • Obstruction of Contact with Child • Parental Alienation • Parental Alienation • Risk of Psychological Harm • Supervised contact with Child • Unsubstantiated Allegations
Where the mother was unable to encourage the children to retain their relationships with the father – temporary suspension of interaction between children and mother, followed by temporary period of supervision of their time with the mother, graduating to substantial and significant time with the mother.
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