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How does the Family Court deal with inheritances?

February 18, 2019

The law is quite clear – an inheritance received during the marriage or de-facto relationship and even after separation, is property the Family Court will include in the asset pool available for division.

However, the Court may treat the inheritance differently depending upon when it was received, the uses to which it was put, and the totality of the parties other contributions.

Generally speaking, the Court may regard an inheritance as a contribution by the party who received it. The other spouse can’t be regarded as contributing significantly to such an inheritance, except in very unusual circumstances. These might include the care of the deceased prior to death, or other financial and non-financial contributions to property owned by the deceased. For example, the husband may claim an interest in a home inherited by the wife, if he helped maintain the home.

In certain circumstances, such as where a spouse received an inheritance late in the relationship or after separation and did not “mix’ the cash or property with the parties own regular property, and there is enough regular property owned by the parties, the Court may follow a “two pools” approach by separating the inheritance from the regular property.

The practical effect of “quarantining” the inheritance is that it is not available for division, but the Court can take it into account when considering the future needs of the person who received it. Speaking on this point, Cronin J in Sinclair & Sinclair [2012] FamCA 388 at [23], noted that ‘isolating or quarantining an inheritance must be cautiously done to ensure that earlier important contributions to the family are not ignored’.




Supporting a local Youth Teeball team

February 13, 2019

Paterson & Dowding continues to support the community and is proud to sponsor the Paterson & Dowding Puma’s, a youth Teeball team playing as part of the Carine Cats Club.

When dealing with difficult situations, being both physically and mentally healthy is important and an outdoor team sport is a great way to help achieve this.

The staff and directors wish the Paterson & Dowding Puma’s every success in their sporting endeavours this season.

$395 Fixed Fee Initial Consults

January 29, 2019

Fixed Fee Initial Consult for $395*

For appointments made between 1 and 28 February

*T&C apply

Parenting arrangements after a FIFO marriage breakup

January 21, 2019

FIFO is a way of life for many West Australian families, but it can take its toll on relationships. Physical distance between couples, the added responsibility on one partner who often has to assume the role of a single parent and the difficulties that couples experience in adjusting between weeks on and weeks off can all put a strain on a relationship and eventually cause marriages to break up.

Reaching an agreement in FIFO families about where the children are to live after separation presents unique challenges that are not common in other families. In FIFO families, there is likely to be one parent who spends regular or significant amounts of time away from his or her children.  Whilst the FIFO parent will want to maintain a close relationship with the children post separation, an unpredictable roster or rotational work arrangement may complicate parenting arrangements.

Generally speaking, where a couple is separating and one is working on a FIFO roster, parenting arrangements should be able to be made to accommodate that roster. However, an experienced family lawyer will understand that there are a number of other factors that need to be taken into account, including the age of the children and their schooling requirements.  Working out parenting arrangements in these situations becomes a balancing act – making sure that the children’s best interests are being met, that they spend an appropriate amount of time with each parent and that the arrangements that are made on paper are actually workable in real-life situations.

As is the case with all parenting matters, the law requires that consideration of the best interests of the child or children is paramount. There are a number of factors that the Family Court will take into account when making this determination, including as a priority the benefit of a child having a meaningful relationship with both parents and the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm.  Relevantly for FIFO families, the court will also consider the practical difficulty and expense of a child spending time with and communicating with a parent.

The law aims to ensure that, where possible, children have the opportunity to know and spend time with both parents. If parents agree on arrangements for their children, there is no need to go to court. An agreement can be documented in a written parenting plan or through an application for consent orders.  However, if they cannot agree, parents will be required to attend at the Family Court and a judicial officer will make decisions about what is in the best interests of the child or children and where they are to live.

Separation is hard enough and the added complication of a FIFO lifestyle when it comes to working out parenting arrangements can be a bridge too far for some people. It’s always best to get professional help early on, and that includes seeking advice from an experienced family lawyer.   In most cases, the earlier you obtain legal advice, the better the outcome.  At Paterson & Dowding we have a number of experienced practitioners, including Accredited Family Law Specialists, who can provide you with practical advice on parenting arrangements after a FIFO marriage breakup.  With offices in Perth and Joondalup, we also assist with mediation and family dispute resolution to help you to resolve your dispute without having to go to court.



Free Seminar – Family Law Myth Busters

January 14, 2019

Do you want to avoid a messy and costly divorce?

Join us at one of our free seminars in locations across the metropolitan area. To learn more click on the flyer below or to book your place visit http://www.eventbrite.com.au and search for ‘suburban’

Suburban Summer Series – Family law myth busters flyer

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