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Key Takeaways: Family Law Practitioners Association of Queensland’s 2022 Retreat

On 17 - 19 November 2022 FamilyProperty attended the Family Law Practitioners Association of Queensland's Annual Family Law Retreat at Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas on the Sunshine Coast. With Shannel Fanous, Business Development Manager; Sara Hawes, President of FamilyProperty US; and Anna Kleindeinst, Client Success Manager and Trainer at our stand, the Retreat was a great educational and networking event to showcase FamilyProperty to the profession.

The team demonstrated how FamilyProperty can empower family law professionals to more efficiently and accurately prepare, model, and document family law outcomes. It was wonderful to meet so many of you using (and loving!) FamilyProperty.

To recap key learnings or if you missed the Retreat, we've compiled key takeaways from select presentations to keep the momentum going from this informative and educative event.

Managing the Complex

Presented by her Honour Justice Jenny Hogan of the Brisbane Registry of the Family Court of Australia and Margie Kruger, Partner at Ryan Kruger Lawyers, the session on ‘Managing the Complex’ focused on how to effectively run parenting cases involving serious allegations of domestic violence, alcohol abuse, mental health disorders, drug misuse, child abuse allegations and parental incapacity.

The session focused on and emphasised the need for lawyers to:

  1. Obtain clear and detailed instructions from the client (including in writing);

  2. Ask the hard questions including identifying inconsistencies, challenging the client and identifying gaps in information;

  3. Investigate the allegations of harm including reviewing any documentation the client may have and assessing whether their instructions are consistent or not;

  4. Gather the evidence from the Department and consider whether any child protection assessments help or hinder the client (including whether the outcome is consistent with the assessment and information gathered or not); and

  5. Manage the client’s expectations as the case progresses, be mindful of ethical considerations and identify when external supports may be required (i.e. therapeutic, medical etc).

Get Defensive - The most common traps for family lawyers and how to avoid them

“Get Defensive” was presented by Craig Nicol a Director of Small Myers Hughes Lawyers and Co-Author of The Family Law Book and focused on minimising risks as family law professionals and ‘what not to do’ in practice based on the most common questions submitted to the Legal Help Line offered through The Family Law Book.

3 of the most common questions about Binding Financial Agreements are summarised below:

  1. Is a BFA effective upon death? Death is not separation. A BFA regulates what is to occur upon separation but a Will regulates what occurs following death.

  2. Does a BFA need to include disclosure? See the case of Adame [2014] FCCA 42 where Jarret J said “Each case needs to be determined according to its own facts, but parties are generally entitled and able to satisfy themselves about the values of the assets and financial resources disclosed for the purposes of the financial agreement. That the parties or a party might choose not to do so is, in my view, a choice that is open to be made by that party…”

  3. Can a BFA be signed electronically? In short, yes. The only family law document that cannot be signed electronically as per the Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (Cth) is a Child Support Agreement.

Bad Behaviour and how to deal with it

Barrister James Linklater-Steele gave an entertaining presentation on contempt and contravention with reference to the movie Kung Fu Panda.

In considering whether to bring a contempt or contravention application, the following factors should firstly be considered:

  1. Can the non-compliance or breach be proven?

  2. What evidence can be presented?

  3. Is there another way to achieve what the client wants that might be more cost effective? For example, if communication was the issue perhaps a parenting app may be of assistance. Or if there was a high level of conflict between the parents, perhaps family therapy may be more appropriate.

A pre-action letter should be sent to the opposing party first summarising the complaint of the client, calling for an explanation as to the contravention or contempt, requesting make up time or relief and making a warning as to seeking a penalty and costs should the contravention or contempt continue. It was recommended to keep the correspondence short and succinct, as this should be used as evidence and attached to any required Affidavit to be filed with the Court.

It’s also important to remember that enforcement remedies are discretionary, so there is no guarantee as to the ultimate outcome when advising clients.

Booth Competition Winner - Congratulations!

A big congratulations to Angela Tondelstrand, Director of Catton & Tondelstrand Lawyers, who won the booth competition of a bottle of Champagne Taittinger.

We'd also like to extend a huge thank you to Iceberg Events and the Family Law Practitioners Association of Queensland for putting together such a wonderful event - we look forward to attending the Retreat in 2023!

If you, or someone you know, are interested to learn more about how FamilyProperty can help in your practice book an obligation- free demo with our friendly team today.

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