MEDIA RELEASE Hanson’s comments on family law misguided

The comments made at the weekend by Pauline Hanson about requiring couples to submit mandatory pre-marital agreements will cause far more litigation than the Family Law Courts currently handle.

“The comments are misguided at best” says Toowoomba based Accredited Family Law Specialist Andrew McCormack of Best Wilson Buckley Family Law, a specialist family law firm with offices in Toowoomba, Brisbane, and Ipswich.

“Trying to have couples agree on what is to happen if they separate in the future is not going to assist the chronically underfunded legal and court system that administers family law in Australia” said McCormack.

Mr McCormack believes the Federal Government is not committing proper resources to family law and domestic and family violence matters. “We have a situation where our current Attorney-General is not properly funding court services, taking money away from community legal services and underfunding legal aid commissions in the States and Territories” he said.

Ms Hanson, in an interview published in The Sunday Mail, has called for all couples to be required to submit pre-marital agreements to a Court for approval about how financial and parenting matters will be handled if a couple later separate.

Mr McCormack said that as the law currently stands, these types of agreements can already be formulated but they are not submitted to the Courts for approval. “These types of agreements exist but they are very technical documents that require all parties to have independent legal advice to make them effective. When a person enters this type of agreement, they are basically signing their rights away to have a Court determine a future situation. Trying to bind someone to an agreement like what Ms Hanson is suggesting isn’t the answer to family law in this country” Mr McCormack said.

Ms Hanson believes that the family law system needs an overhaul. Mr McCormack does not believe that her “solution” is practical or appropriate. “Unless you have a crystal ball that can tell you the future, you are never going to know what might happen in a relationship. People start relationships and families with the best intentions. However, problems arise, circumstances change, and unfortunately, on the statistics that I seen, violence occurs. The agreements that she is suggesting won’t fix the situation” he said.

Having judges approve relationship agreements is likely to put more of a strain on judicial resources that are already spread very thinly. “Our current Circuit Court judge sits in Toowoomba for one to two days a month. He has a least 500 to 600 current matters to deal with in his docket that come from all over the State, not just Brisbane and Toowoomba. We could have a judge her permanently and we’d still be over listing matters”.

Mr McCormack has called for more funding to deal with matters currently before the Court and a move towards the use of alternative dispute resolution like arbitration in both financial and parenting matters.

ENDS

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New Year – New Sign – New (and old) Faces

Well, we are well into 2017.  I still can’t work out where January has gone.

Best Wilson Buckley closed over the Christmas period and we all had a much needed vacation.  2016 was a very busy year both personally and professionally.

The Christmas vacation allowed me to spend some much needed quality time with my wife and 3 daughters.  This included spending some time “back home” in Murwillumbah with my parents.

New Year – New Sign

I use my father’s office in Murwillumbah as a visited office so that I can provide assistance to clients living in Northern New South Wales.  His “shingle” is much fancier than mine.  There is a sense of pride that I can put my “shingle” up under his in my old home town and try and give back to the community by offering my services.

Back into the swing of things

2017 has already had some highlights.  One of these was being able to assist my Legal Practice Director, Kara Best, in our first ever application for parentage transfer orders under the Surrogacy Act.  We were successful in our application and I will be writing a more specific post about this matter at a later date.  I would have to say it was up there in my top 5 moments of my legal career.

Our family friendly office – babysitting and billable hours with my daughter Lucy


Tips for Teachers and Schools

My colleague Katherine Marshall and I presented BWB’s Tips for Teachers and Schools presentation in late January to members of the Centenary State High School administration staff.

The presentation is designed to provide some assistance to teachers and allied staff in schools on navigating the complex world that is family law.  I’ll be writing a more detailed post about our presentation at a later date.  For the moment you can see Dan Buckley and John Patterson’s article Tips for Teachers on the BWB web site.

New (or for me old) Faces

I am thrilled to have been joined at BWB by Amity Anderson.  Amity and I were both a HopgoodGanim in Brisbane and worked together for many years.  Amity had the misfortune to have been my graduate for the first 6 months of her legal career!  Thankfully, due to timely swapping of the deck chairs on the Titanic (there are other nicknames for HG’s Family Law Section), Amity spent the balance of her career at HopgoodGanim working with Freda Wigan and having all of the bad habits I taught her well and truly straightened out by Freddy.

Amity will be the Practice Leader at our soon to be opened Ipswich Office and will be joined by Associate, Alecia Connor.

Amity, welcome to BWB. It’s so good to have your highly contagious smile around again!

Amity Anderson