Legal matters with Turner Freeman Family Law Claims with Catherine Parks –23 May 2017
Tuesday, May 23rd 2017
CS – Chris Smith/CP – Catherine Parks /C1,2,3, etc – Callers
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CS Well, family law. That’s our topic today in our Turner Freeman Legal Matters segment and we will talk shortly about some of the changes in the budget which may advantage the family law system. Apparently there has been an $80 million funding boost for court resourcing that’s just one aspect of what was quite a budget but family law, if you’ve got a question, you’ve got some free legal advice right now on 131 873 and thanks to Turner Freeman lawyers we’ve got a $100 Westfield voucher to give away as well to the caller between now and 2pm that we select, $100 Westfield voucher and don’t forget Turner Freeman Lawyers provide a range of specialised legal services including compensation and negligence law, asbestos litigation, superannuation and disability claims, family and employment law Wills and estate. Their New South Wales offices: the CBD in Sydney, Parramatta, Campbelltown, Penrith, Newcastle and Wollongong and their Queensland offices: Brisbane, Logan, Northlakes, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Cairns. They are their Queensland offices. If you’ve got a question, jump in, it’s best to get in right in early so you don’t miss out, 131 873. Now Catherine Parks is an accredited specialist in Family Law and she’s based at the Turner Freeman Parramatta office but also sees clients in Sydney, Campbelltown and Penrith. If you’ve got a question for Catherine, jump on right now, 131 873. Good to have your company this afternoon Catherine
CS Thank you for coming in. The family law system, there is always a controversy surrounding the family law system, in particular the waiting period, is this $80 million funding boost for court resourcing aimed at reducing that, do you think?
CP Look, the $80 million funding has been broken down into quite a few different areas. One I think will be very beneficial for people who go before the family court is that more money is being put in to family consultants. Family consultants are social scientists, usually psychologists, who meet with the family and come up with recommendations for care of children. Sometimes at the moment, to see a family consultant can take up to twelve months, which necessarily delays everything, because the court can’t move on until it gets a report from the family consultant in a lot of matters. Some of the other funding has gone into community legal centres, which is very important. Self represented litigants are one of those false economies, which the government pay for representation, people represent themselves and the whole system sort of slows down, so that’s an important area. There’s also some money that has gone into domestic violence units which run through legal aid and they’re there to assist victims of domestic violence but there has been a chunk of money that’s been allocated to something called Parent Managing Hearings and I don’t really understand what that is going to be and there is not a lot of detail in relation to that but it seems to be an ultimate option to deal with parenting matters.
CS Right, okay
GW And $12.7 million has gone towards that. They’re an unknown, they’re another level, at least a layer in the family court it seems and there is a lot of concern that there will be legislative changes that need to be made, that it adds complexity and it really could be money that went to more judges, which is very necessary in the family court system to get matters through faster
CS Right. Interesting.131 873. So a little bit of clarification for the industry might not go astray especially with that last point-
CS -131 873, Richard, go for your life, Catherine is listening
C1 Hi how are you, Catherine?
CP I’m well, how are you?
C1 Not too bad, so umm yeah, I had my daughter taken without my consent, I didn’t see her for 817 days, now I’ve been going through court, it’s been nearly four years now that I’ve been going through court and it’s not getting anywhere, the least you do wrong, the longer it takes and this is really, really impacting on me. I’m in the 21 fathers campaign-
C1 -where the 21 fathers commit suicide every week because of the family law system, and we are totally sick of it. These guys who do everything wrong, beat up their misses, assault their kids or whatever, they have a case through court, it gets dealt with really quickly because they’ve done something and they get their kids back within 6 months to a year. Now people, guys, who don’t do anything wrong get strung out, strung out, strung out, don’t see their children and it takes up to four, five years. I have to pay $260 per hour to see my daughter, I have done nothing wrong
CP Yeah, look, I think that is a terrible story but unfortunately it’s very common and it’s common for both fathers as well as mothers. In circumstances where there are delays and people are waiting long periods of time to see their children or have a judge decide, nobody wins out of that situation and I’m very sympathetic, unfortunately it is a very common story though.
C1 And I, we both were assaulted by my ex partner, she was a bit crazy at times and my daughter got a can thrown at her head. Policemen knew about that and they said “look, we can’t go into that because that’s against mother and a daughter and too big of a case”. So to be fair, after I called the police on her assaulting me and my daughter, a cross order got put on and that warranted me to not to do anything wrong, even though I had done nothing wrong at all, now I sent a text message after she moved down to Brisbane, we were living at the Sunshine Coast at the time, I sent a text message, she did not directly give me her number, so I got it through a friend which I didn’t know I couldn’t do, I didn’t think I had done anything wrong in the first place, I sent her a text message “okay please stop being a bitch and I want to see her and be a normal father and take my daughter to the park, do normal things”. I got arrested for four days and five nights for harassment, stalking, stalking and harassments via carriage service. Now I am getting strung through court and I’ve got all these orders against me and I haven’t done a thing wrong. It’s just women are too protective, I am not sexist at all, at all, in one way, shape or form but males need more help, we need more support, we are sick and tired of this sexist system, it is completely sexist 100%.
CS Okay, Richard, I need to get to some other callers. Let’s put that to Catherine, do you find that the system is skewed one way or the other?
CP I don’t, but I do think that sometimes the delays can act far, have greater consequences to fathers who don’t have primary care of their children because effectively then you set up a status quos as it’s were
CS Because more mothers have-
CS Care of their children
CP Yeah and I think it can impact disproportionally, but once you get before a judge I don’t think that is the case but jetting before the judge is the difficulty
CS Okay, Louise is on line six. Hi Louise
C2 Hello, I was wondering if you could help, I’ve been to legal aid and they’ve told me I’ve got no hope but what it is, is my ex husband and I have been divorced for about thirteen years now. He’s a lawyer and at the time he left, our son was diagnosed with autism, so I had a two year old with autism and a one year old daughter and I couldn’t afford a solicitor so he said “I know what I’m doing. I’m a solicitor” so he did all the papers for the divorce, I just signed them. He’s been giving $500 a fortnight which I appreciate because some blokes don’t give anything for the kids and pays my sons school fees because he is at a special school. Now what has happened is he is coming to a great deal of money but I don’t any for me, but I was wondering if I could get the court to put money aside for my son in a trust so my husband can’t go blow it and go through it. I can’t touch it but when my son, I’ve got a daughter as well but she is neurotypical so she is fine but my son will always need care and he will always need support.
CS Alright that’s a good question for Catherine, because what Louise is suggesting here is that the goalposts have changed after the divorce has been settled, does that mean the orders can change?
CP No. The reality is that in most cases where there are orders whether they’re made by consent or a judge makes them, that’s the line in the sand, that’s the part that separates you. So if he befalls some financial difficulties, you wouldn’t be liable for those and equally if he has some gained then you don’t have a claim on that. Where you might have a claim is through child support and it might be that because of his finances, if it does relate to his income, in any way, which I don’t know that it does in this case, but if it did, and because of the special needs of your child you might be eligible for more child support
CS So applications possibly to child support?
CP Possibly but not for a lump sum payment, not setting money aside for a trust. That isn’t the child of area that the child support agency deals with.
C2 Alright, thank you for your help
CS Hey, listen, Louise I’ve got a $100 Westfield voucher for you. Alright $100 Westfield voucher goes to Louise. We will take some more calls, right after the break. 11 to 2pm. This is Legal Matters.
C3 Oh, thank you so much
CS Don’t be silly, stay on the line and we will get it to you
CS 7 and a half minutes to 2pm and we have Catherine Parks from Turner Freeman, happy to take your calls on 131 873. Tony, go ahead
C3 Yeah, hi Catherine, I’m just curious about my circumstances have changed, I’ve got a thirteen year old son who’s living with me full time, I didn’t think envision that would happen but it has as boys often like to be with their fathers. I paid his mother in 2008 child support in advance until he was eighteen which was about $300,000
CS In a lump sum?
C3 Yes and that was a part of our family law agreement. Now he’s got another five years until he is eighteen and she now has a child support liability until he is eighteen which she still won’t pay but having said that, she has also been given money in advance until he is eighteen so there are two separate issues and the child support assessment will eventually come through I imagine they will have to go and see her wages but I’m just wondering what Catherine’s thoughts are on trying to recover the money that was paid in advance to hers and my son until he was eighteen because it’s almost like she would be double dipping otherwise
CP Look, it depends on how you paid the child support lump sum amount, if you paid it as part of a property settlement then it’s unlikely that you will be able to recover any of it but then again it’s the line in the sand and how ever that is characterised, if it’s a lump sum payment there is consent orders and it’s very, very difficult except for in cases of fraud and extreme behaviours to go back and visit them. If you’ve paid at a some kind of child support agreement, than that might be possible to have a look at, if the living circumstances have changed but only if that particular agreement makes provisions for changes in circumstance. The difficulty in lump sum payments is sometimes, when your negotiating them you do so on the basis that you pay a little bit less because it’s a lump sum amount and there is a benefit to that but you pay, it’s a bit of a risky thing to do and that’s why it is a less common thing to do because children change all the time-
CS Life circumstances
CP -yeah life circumstances so it is risky both ways so I suspect that the answer is no that it is something that cannot be undone even though circumstances have changed
C3 Alright that’s very helpful thankyou
CS Very quickly Adam, I’ve only got about 60 seconds go now
C4 Good afternoon, I just wanted to ask in regards to the family law system supporting parents who abduct their children and restrain them from seeing the other parent, not only supporting but actually rewarding it
CS So in your circumstances, you’ve had a breach of orders by your ex partner?
C4 Subsequent twenty six weeks’ worth of breaches in consecutive weeks and the court has refused to issue any penalty on her because she is the primary care of the child by default because she’s obviously abducting and won’t let me see
CP I think the reality is the concern of the court is always the interest of the children and sometimes that is a very complex thing to work through and that has certainly not been my experience that the court supports or rewards parents that abduct children
CS It’s bizarre that a court would just turn their back on something like that
CP It would seem unusual but it might be the delays then mean by the time you get into court you know, things have sort of set up, been set up in a certain way
CS Alright, Catherine thank you very much for your time this afternoon
CS Catherine Parks from Turner Freeman Lawyers