Family Court changes post 31 March 2014

Family Court changes post 31 March 2014

On 31 March 2014, how the Family Court deals with Care of Children Act matters changed dramatically.  Now, more than ever, the focus is on parties resolving matters between themselves if the situation is non-urgent. For example, if you and your partner separated and you could not agree on how care and contact of the children would look, it was possible before 31 March 2014 that you could instruct a family lawyer and they would apply for a Parenting Order.  This is now not the case.  Now parties are expected to go through the “Parenting Through Separation Course and Family Dispute Resolution” process, with the intention of resolving the issue without ever darkening the door of the Family Court.  “Parenting Through Separation” has been around for a long time, but only now has it become mandatory before any application can be made to the Family Court. Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is another new addition to the Family Court resolution process.  It is essentially mediation pre-Court.  Expert mediators will meet with the parties and assist them to move towards coming to a resolution themselves. In most situations now, if you have not taken part in “Parenting Through Separation and Family Dispute Resolution” process you cannot apply to the Family Court for a Parenting Order.  A new nationwide database records who has taken part in this process, so that this can be monitored if applications are made to the Family Court. Another big change is the change to the right of people to be represented in the Family Court.  Unless your matter is urgent, or tied in with another case, most...
Elder Law

Elder Law

We are committed to providing expert legal advice in the Elder Law area.  The number of people aged 65 and over has doubled since 1980 and is expected to double again by 2036 as the “baby boomer” generation move towards retirement. With moving towards retirement come some specialised legal issues that we can assist with. Enduring Power of Attorney We recommend that everyone has in place an Enduring Power of Attorney for Personal Care and Welfare and an Enduring Power of Attorney for Property.  Such documents means that if you lose the capacity to make decisions and understand the consequences of them, a person of your choosing takes over that responsibility. Welfare Guardian and Property Manager Applications However, if you do not have Enduring Powers of Attorney in place and you lose the capacity to make and understand decisions about you or your property, applications may need to be made to the Family Court under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 to have someone appointed to act on your behalf and make those decisions.  That involves far more initial expense than preparing Enduring Powers of Attorney, as well as obligations to complete Court reports and have periodic Court reviews of Orders. Please see this article which further explains how to apply for these Orders and how they work. Wills We can draft your Will that accurately reflects your wishes for your property after you pass away and deal with the legal and technical aspects of your estate. Trusts We can provide advice and assistance regarding whether a trust is the right method to use for protection of...
Protection of Personal and Property Rights

Protection of Personal and Property Rights

Many people have heard of Enduring Powers of Attorney.  For those who haven’t, these are legal documents you put in place so if at some point you become incapable of making decisions regarding your personal welfare and property, the person or persons you have appointed makes those decisions for you.  When you put Enduring Powers of Attorney in place you need to have what is called “capacity,” which is the ability to make informed decisions about your personal welfare and property and to understand the consequences of those decisions. But what happens if you have failed to put Enduring Powers of Attorney in place and you lose capacity? At that point you are incapable of making decisions about your personal welfare and property, so who does it for you, and what legal right do they have to make those decisions? The Protection of Personal and Property Right Act 1988 (“PPPR Act”) deals with this situation by authorising the Family Court to appoint a Property Manager and or Welfare Guardian.  If you lose capacity, someone (often a family member) will have to apply to the Court to be appointed Property Manager and/or Welfare Guardian.  These roles are very similar to being an Attorney for Personal Care and Welfare, or as Attorney for Property matters under an Enduring Power of Attorney. The fact that capacity has been lost has to be shown through medical reports.  Once the applications are filed in Court, the person who has lost capacity (“the Subject Person”) will have a lawyer appointed to represent their best interests, which will include ascertaining whether the person or people applying...