Family lawyer

We can help you find the right family lawyer for you

You’ll feel comfortable and at ease when speaking with our family lawyers.

Who needs a family lawyer?

Many Lang Hemming & Hall clients have been with us for generations so have essentially “grown up” with a family lawyer.  Often this is not the case.  If you do not have a family lawyer, or are in a situation where (due to the nature of the case) your current lawyer is unable to represent you, there are steps you can take to find the right family lawyer for you.

 

Feel at Ease
When seeking a family law professional, you should place a priority on feeling comfortable and ease when speaking with the lawyer. Sometimes clients are not prepared for the level of personal detail we need from them.

 

It may help, before making an appointment, to consider whether you feel more comfortable talking about private matters with a man or a woman or whether you want someone your age, older or younger? Different cases necessitate different levels of personal detail.

What to look for

Caring but honest
A good family lawyer should be caring and sympathetic to you and your situation, however they should not always agree with you. The role of a family lawyer is not to agree with you, but to provide you with a carefully considered professional opinion and advice based on their experience and expertise.

 

Experienced
Family law often impinges on many areas of law: from criminal law to bankruptcy; from property to tax law. A good family lawyer will not only need to have a working knowledge of many areas of law, but will also have the wisdom to seek advice from specialist lawyers if your case requires it.   A good family lawyer will strive to ensure that the financial goals you were trying to achieve with them are consistent with the approach that is being taken in your family law matter.  They will do this by liaising with your accountant and financial planner.

 

Don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion
Finally, if you just don’t feel right about something your lawyer is advising then you should feel confident in seeking a second opinion.

Family Law FAQs

“Pre-Nup” and Binding Financial Agreements

While the actual decision to get married does not by itself require any legal guidance, the act of getting married can affect both you and your intended spouse in many different ways.  Obviously, it is everyone’s hope that a marriage is going to last forever, and it is best to arrange your affairs in anticipation accordingly.

However, for some people, it is desirable to try and maintain more certainty over the ownership of assets.  This is often the case if this is not your first marriage.  For example, some people wish to maintain certain assets for children of a former marriage.

A Pre-Nuptial agreement (or Binding Financial Agreement) as most of us would understand that term, is, in many cases, not a legally binding agreement for married couples throughout Australia.  Pre-nuptial agreements can be binding upon de-facto couples in certain states.

The law of Pre-Nuptial Agreements is not necessarily as “black and white” as you may believe.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements can be used as evidence of the parties’ intentions at the commencement of their marriage and there are various other mechanisms such as Trusts which can be used to try and achieve the same results as the American style agreements.

We are well placed to advise you on these issues and would encourage anyone considering a Pre-Nuptial or Binding Financial Agreement to contact us to discuss their individual circumstances.

Pre Marriage Checklist

  • Notify Telstra, Optus etc
  • Revise Wills, Powers of Attorney, etc
  • If Moving – Mail Redirection
  • Change Name at Bank
  • Change Drivers Licence Address
  • Obtain Passport for Honeymoon if Needed
  • Advise your Solicitor, Accountant, Doctor, etc
  • Review all Life Insurance and Health Insurance
  • Insurance of Ring
  • Transfer of Property at Titles Office
  • Change Club Memberships
  • Notify Social Security if applicable
  • Change Registration on Cars etc
  • Leases etc. may need to be changed
Conveyancing

BUYING
Buying a property is the biggest and most important investment decision you are likely to make in your life. If you fail to do your research, or if you receive bad advice, buying a property may also be one of the most costly decisions of your life.

The process for buying property can be broken into the following:
Pre exchange -> Exchange -> Post-Exchange -> Settlement

We can help take some of the stress out of this important process by working with you to ensure the completion of every step – NOTHING is left to chance.

SELLING
Failing to do your homework when selling a property can result in an unfavourable outcome, with significant costs and legal ramifications.

At Q Socilitros, we are experienced in all areas of conveyancing law.  We will take the legal stress out of selling your property by ensuring we fully understand you and your goals; and by delivering reliable, easy-to-understand advice.

The conveyancing process will generally go like this:

  1. Appoint a Conveyancing Solicitor to draft your Contract of Sale – Legislation prohibits a vendor or their agent to market a residential property for sale without a complete contract.
  2. Engage a Real Estate Agent – Be sure to choose an Agent with whom you feel comfortable.
  3. Negotiate the Sale – There may be any number of challenges and requests to be negotiated with your potential buyer.
  4. Exchanging of Contracts – Once both parties agree on the contract inclusions, copies are exchanged and signed, and the contract becomes legally binding.
  5. Cooling Off period  This 5 (business) day period commences after the exchange of contracts, and allows the buyer to organise finance and inspection reports.
  6. Settlement period – This period can vary.  During this time we will conduct searches and liaise with all parties and banks to arrange settlement.
  7. Settlement – Or “completion”, is when ownership is officially transferred to the purchaser via the exchanging of cheques and Title documents between the parties and their banks.
Family Law & De Facto Law

As its name implies, family law is the area of the law concerned with family and domestic matters relating to property, finances, and care of children including:

  • Marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships including de facto situations
  • Adoption and Surrogacy
  • Child abuse, neglect, and child abduction
  • Divorce and Annulment
  • Alimony and Property Settlements
  • Child Custody, Guardianship, Visitation, and Child Support
  • Juvenile adjudication
  • Paternity Testing and Paternity Fraud
  • Termination of Parental Rights
  • Restraining orders

Only about 5% of divorces and separations end up in court, with the remainder having a mutually agreeable settlement between both parties negotiated through solicitors. While courts do their best to be fair to all concerned, rarely is everyone happy with the result of a court decision. Resolving family related issues through solicitors is always preferable to having the court decide these matters.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy

If a time comes when a business or an individual cannot pay all their debts when those debts become due, they are then classified as insolvent. An individual may also be declared as bankrupt in regards to their personal finances if they cannot control their debts. Insolvency occurs when the amount of money coming in to one’s accounts is less than the amount of money needed to be paid out for bills and expenses. Examples of accrued debts may include credit cards, overdraft, unpaid salaries, invoices, overdue rent or mortgage, tax owed, and unpaid bills. If you do not have a way to pay your debts and are unable to reach an agreement with your creditors, you may be in a position of impending insolvency.

An individual with considerable financial hardship may declare themselves bankrupt through a Debtor’s Petition with ITSA. Creditors who are owed money may make a Court application to make someone bankrupt. Once an individual becomes bankrupt, a Trustee will manage their property and assets with the goal to sell any assets that have sale value and use the proceeds from the sale of assets to pay the creditors as much of the money owed as possible. Once you have declared bankruptcy, you may not be allowed to travel overseas or become employed in certain professions. Bankruptcy may be able to be discharged after three years, yet it remains on the record for seven years. If all debts are able to be paid in full, the Trustee can opt to annul the bankruptcy. Alternatives to declaring bankruptcy include financial counselling, debt agreements, and a controlling trustee/personal insolvency agreement.

In the case of in insolvent business, it is an offence if the directors continue to operate and incur further debt when a company is in an insolvent state. Options for a business facing potential insolvency include liquidation (winding up), Voluntary Administration/Deed of Company Arrangement, and Receivership. In liquidation, a Liquidator is appointed to wind the company up; selling its assets to pay outstanding debts. The company then is de registered and will not longer exist. This is most often seen in court liquidation and creditors’ voluntary liquidation. In voluntary administration, an administrator investigates the company’s history and financial position to make a recommendation in regards to its future. Creditors then must make a decision to accept a Deed of Company Arrangement as proposed by the directors which would permit the company to make a binding compromise on all creditors, to liquidate, or to return the company into the control of the directors. Receivership involves a receiver/manager for the company assets as appointed by a secured creditor or the court who takes charge of the allocation of the assets to the creditors. This may occur concurrently with liquidation or Voluntary Administration.

Notary Public Services

A notary public is a public official who has been appointed with the authority to provide services in relation to certain non-contentious concerns such as estates, deeds, powers-of-attorney, and international business. A notary might administer oaths, take affidavits, prepare, witness, and authenticate the execution of certain documents, and prepare ship’s protests in cases of damage. Commercial or personal documents that either originate from or are signed in another country generally must be notarized to be officially recorded and take legal effect. A notary must remain impartial in these matters as his duty is to the transaction itself and not just to one party.

Notary services include:

  1. Attestation of documents and certification of their due execution for use in Australia and internationally
  2. Preparation and certification of powers of attorney, wills, deeds, contracts and other legal documents for use in Australia and internationally
  3. Administering of oaths for use in Australia and internationally
  4. Witnessing affidavits, statutory declarations and other documents for use in Australia and internationally
  5. Certification of copy documents for use Australia and internationally
  6. Exemplification of official documents for use internationally
  7. Noting and protesting of bills of exchange
  8. Preparation of ships’ protests
  9. Providing certificates as to Australian law and legal practice
Personal Litigation

Personal litigation is the process of taking legal action (a lawsuit through the courts or mediation between solicitors) to enforce your personal rights. Often personal litigation is undertaken when you feel you’ve been personally wronged, such as in an employment or personal injury case.

Examples of personal litigation concerns include:

  • Professional malpractice and negligence
  • Investor recovery
  • Disputes with financial institutions
  • Insurance claims
  • Real estate and other property related disputes
  • Estate disputes
  • Defamation
  • Land & environment
  • Property damage
  • Contractual disputes / breach of contract
  • Collections
  • Class actions
  • Medical malpractice
  • Legal malpractice
  • Products liability/product defects (consumer litigation)
  • Personal and premise injuries
  • Wrongful death
  • Nursing home liability
  • Motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents
  • Workers compensation
  • Violation of civil Rights / discrimination

In general, one bringing a suit against another party is seeking monetary compensation for their damages which they believe to be directly caused by the actions or lack of action by another party.

Additionally, one may wish regulations to be altered to prevent future instances of injury to others.  Often, personal litigation will be settled out of court, if both parties can agree on an equitable settlement.  Because of the efforts and emotions involved in going to court, settlement is often a preferable option.

Powers of Attorney

The granting of a Power of Attorney gives to the recipient the power to do all actions and things and to bind third parties just as if the original grantor of the Power of Attorney had entered into the Contract themselves.

There are many different forms of Powers of Attorney
However they fall into five main categories:

  1. Limited Power of Attorney (granted to allow limited transaction)
  2. Normal Power of Attorney (full transactional powers over the Grantor’s property/assets)
  3. Financial (dealing only with financial matters)
  4. Health (dealing with health treatment and related issues)
  5. Enduring Power of Attorney (granted to act on behalf of incapacitated Grantor)

In Queensland, if any document signed under Power of Attorney is intended to be registered at the Department of Natural Resources (the Title Office) then the Original Power of Attorney must be registered at the Title Office.

There are a host of conditions surrounding each of these categories, which our experienced Solicitors can explain to you in detail.

Trusts

Trusts are legal mechanisms that follow pre-set conditions (as designated by you) on when and how your assets will be distributed upon your death. Using a trust gives you the control the timing and method of distribution of assets, but also can save you in taxes, reduce liability to creditors, and avoid the necessity of probate court (the body that administers wills).

A testamentary trust goes into effect upon your death with the express purpose of allocated your assets to your desinated beneficiaries. A trust is no substitute for a will, a trust should only be used in conjuction with a will as part of an overall estate planning strategy developed in working with one’s solictor.

Trusts are not just for the wealthy! You may benefit from establishing a trust if:

  • You have considerable assets in real estate, a business, or an art collection
  • You wish to leave your estate to your heirs wuch that that is not directly or immediately payable to them upon your death. You may want to distribute in several portions at set time intervals or upon certain live events (such as graduation from university)
  • You want to support a surviving spouse, but upon their death, you want a portion of your estate to go to other chosen heirs such as children from a first marriage
  • You and your spouse want to maximize your estate-tax exemptions

Some possible advantages to using a trust:

  • The abililty to set your own conditions on how and when your assets are distributed after you die including timing of payments to your heirs
  • Reduction in estate and gift taxes
  • Ability to distribute assets to heirs efficiently without the cost, delay, and publicity of probate court
  • Protection of your assets from creditors and lawsuits
Wills & Estate Planning

Wills
Simply put, everyone who is an adult needs a will. If you die without a will (known as dying ‘intestate’) the courts will decide how your assets are distributed (often by standard formulas based on familial relationship) and potentially create additional costs, delays, and headaches for your heirs. Taking the time to write out your intentions saves trouble for everyone down the line.

Formalising your wishes in a will makes your desires ‘official’ so there is a known record as authorised and signed by you. It’s also critical for those with small children to name guardians by way of a will or this too will be decided by a court. A will also allows you to leave a portion of your assets to charitable institutions. While the basics of deciding how to allocate your assets may be simple (such as leaving everything to one family member), a properly trained solicitor should be involved as well to ensure that your will hold up if challenged in court.

What if you change your mind? You may amend your will at any time. It’s recommended to review your will periodically to ensure it still is applicable to your financial and familial situation. At the same time, you’ll want to review your beneficiary designations for your retirement, pension, and insurance policies as those are automatically transferred.

While rarely considered a ‘fun’ process, estate planning is essential regardless of your net worth for piece of mind in knowing your assets will be distributed according to your desires. Planning ahead and recording your wishes will additionally reduce administrative costs and headaches for your family. A full estate plan typically includes a will, assignment of power of attorney, and a living will/health care proxy (medical power of attorney). Family trusts may also be appropriate in some circumstances.

Estate Planning
Your first step in estate planning should be to take inventory of your assets. This includes your investments, retirement savings, insurance policies, and real estate and/or business interests. Then ask yourself: Who do you want to inherit these assets? Who do you want handling your financial affairs when you are unable to do so? Who do you want making medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself?

It is also critical to discuss your plans with your heirs as well as other family members who may question your decisions. It is better to avoid surprises or any challenges to your will which will hamper your wishes being carried out.

Deeds

A deed is a specific type of binding promise or commitment to do something.

It seems to be the inherent nature of every legal system to adhere to a particular ritual, act or instrument by which a person can notify the community that she or he most solemnly swears to commit to something by way of a binding document.

This idea of solemn commitment continues and today a deed is a special type of contract or binding commitment or obligation and is regarded as the most solemn act that a person may perform which:

  • passes an interest, right or property;
  • creates an obligation binding on some person;
  • or amounts to an affirmation or confirmation of something which passes an interest, right or property.

Lang Hemming & Hall delivers law for life, and as deeds will at some point be a requirement in all our lives, it pays to have a team of lawyers on your side who have the experience to guide you through that process in your life.

Contact Us

To further discuss your legal matters, or arrange a time to meet with us, please email info@lawstore.com.au or contact us. We look forward to being of service.

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