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Post #51990 by dad4life on February 10th 2015, 7:49 PM (in topic “Divorce, Irish style - It's not just Australia”)

Divorce, Irish style - It's not just Australia

A small collection of short accounts of the effect of family separation and divorce on men, women and children in Ireland.

Reading them brings home how similar the issues and experiences are to those of us here in Australia.

The Irish Times: My Divorce series
http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/divorced-ireland

Divorce, Irish style
By Kate Holmquist, 17 January 2015
http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/divorce-irish-style-1.2068656
Almost 20 years ago, after a bitter debate, Ireland voted for the introduction of divorce. Almost 100,000 people have availed of the law since then. How have they fared, and what’s life like after marriage breakdown?

My Parents’ Divorce: Brian.
“Children are the unsung heroes of divorce”


February 8, 2015

I was in my early 20s in 1995, and passing the divorce referendum was so important. I chased flatmates who hadn’t voted down to the polling station and sat up half the night, listening to the radio and willing a Yes vote.

One year later my own parents separated. It wasn’t a surprise but the chaos and stress it created was more than I could have imagined. They divorced five  years after what seemed like never-ending rounds of horse-trading, trying to make a salary that had barely kept one family stretch to support two households. Our much loved family home was sold as part of the deal.

I was able to avoid a lot of the stresses by moving overseas but my school-aged siblings weren't so lucky. They were moved from pillar to post for a few years while my parents found equilibrium.

Children, of all ages, are the unsung heroes of divorce. Separated and divorced parents really owe them a debt of gratitude. Kids are so loyal and ultimately just want their parents to be happy, and will quietly put up with very difficult situations to make that happen. While separating parents want to do the best for their children, anger, bitterness or just broken-heartedness makes good decision making impossible. Rather than focusing  on dividing the spoils, the separation process should focus on the children first and foremost.

Even when the dust settles, and children grow up, the impact of divorce continues. For many, family events will always have underlying tensions and balancing the needs of any new partners or step families is a huge challenge. As I grow older it's the loss of the “home place” that brings the most sadness. I know my own children would have loved it as much as I did, but they will never have the chance to visit.

I still strongly believe that divorce is a basic right. No one should have to stay in an unhappy partnership. But when I look at where everyone has ended up, I’m not sure that what my parents gained from their divorce really outweighs what they lost. But I do know that what the children of that divorce lost is immeasurable.

---

My Divorce: Stephen. “My ex falsely accused me of child abuse and violence.”
February 6, 2015, 07:00

My divorce. Jean: ‘I will soon be in court for my second divorce’
January 30, 2015, 07:00

Mediation, an alternative to the divorce court
Sabine Walsh  January 29, 2015, 16:14

My divorce. Denis: ‘I still love my ex-wife and want our family back’
January 29, 2015, 07:00

My divorce. Emma: ‘On the back of a beer mat he scribbled, I’m leaving’
January 28, 2015, 07:00

My divorce. Mark: ‘There was no one else involved. I was overcommitted to my work’
January 27, 2015, 07:00

My divorce. Rebecca: ‘I was diagnosed with post-traumatic-stress-disorder’
January 26, 2015, 07:00

How to protect your children from the worst effects of divorce
John Sharry  January 24, 2015, 07:00
These five steps for parents can help minimise a separation’s effects on children

Ireland’s divorce regime: long, cumbersome and expensive
Carol Coulter  January 20, 2015, 01:00
 Divorce amendment passed in 1995 imposed two-stage process on divorcing couples

Divorce: the courtroom experience
Fiona Gartland  January 20, 2015, 01:00
Ugly scenes in court when couples get chance to air their grievances

How wife-swappin’ sodomites won the right to remarry
Kathy Sheridan  January 19, 2015, 12:13
1995 referendum that gave separated people the right to divorce was barely carried

How to get divorced for less than $400
Conor Pope  January 18, 2015, 15:30
A low-cost divorce is possible if the couple can reach amicable agreement. But that’s the one thing many separating couples can’t do

My divorce: ‘I can’t afford more legal fees’
Kate Holmquist  January 19, 2015, 12:23
Alison: ‘My ex left when I was pregnant with our eldest and he was deadbeat in that period’

My divorce: ‘I won't marry again, ever’
Kate Holmquist  January 19, 2015, 12:25

My divorce. Róisín: ‘Expect a lower standard of living’
Kate Holmquist  January 17, 2015, 01:00

My divorce. James: ‘There’s a fragility in me now’
Kate Holmquist  January 17, 2015, 01:00
 

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Post #51769 by dad4life on January 3rd 2015, 3:12 PM (in topic “(WA) Facebook defamation: man awarded $12.5K after estranged wife's domestic violence post”)

(WA) Facebook defamation: man awarded $12.5K after estranged wife's domestic violence post

Several articles on this matter, from Western Australia, FYI.

Making false allegations and lying about DV is both slander/libel and a form of abuse and violence in and of itself. Such false accusations are designed to hurt and harm a person and his reputation.


Facebook defamation: man wins lawsuit over estranged wife's domestic violence post | Technology | The Guardian

The Guardian
2 January 2015

Facebook defamation: man wins lawsuit over estranged wife's domestic violence post
By Calla Wahlquist

West Australian court awards a Bunbury teacher $12,500 after his former partner was found to be unable to prove domestic violence allegations

A West Australian man has successfully sued his estranged wife for defamation over a Facebook post that suggested she was the victim of domestic violence, after a Perth court found she could not prove the statement was true.

Bunbury teacher Miro Dabrowski was awarded $12,500 in damages at the West Australian district court in December by Justice Michael Bowden.

The offending post, which was posted on his estranged wife Robyn Greeuws public Facebook profile in December 2012, read: Separated from Miro Dabrowski after 18 years of suffering domestic violence and abuse. Now fighting the system to keep my children safe.

Greeuw removed the post from her page in February 2013, after she received a letter from Dabrowskis lawyer.

But in his decision, Bowden writes that Greewu told the court she had written part of that statement into Facebook but not published it, and suggested her computer had been hacked to create the screenshot of the post that was used in the trial.

She also argued that the statement was not defamatory or, if it was, that it was covered under the justification defence which allows the publication of defamatory material if it can be proved to be substantially true.

Greewu, who represented herself, described a long history of emotional and occasionally physical abuse to the court, which she said began soon after the pair married in 1992. The relationship ended on 2 March 2012, when police served Dabrowski with an interim violence restraining order from Greewu at their house. Dabrowski denied he was ever abusive.

In his decision, Bowden said some of Dabrowskis comments about the nature of the relationship were incredulous. But he said Greewus implausible claims about how the Facebook post came to be undermined her credibility, and meant he could not find she had been the victim of domestic violence and abuse on her word alone.

Domestic violence and abuse by its very nature usually occur in the matrimonial home and in the absence of independent witnesses. I accept that defamation findings can be made solely on the evidence of one partner against the other, Bowden said.

However, Ms Greeuws credibility is so badly affected by the matters to which I have referred that it leads to the conclusion that she is prepared to say or write whatever she thinks will suit her case and I would not be prepared to accept her evidence unless it is supported by independent evidence or documents contemporaneously made with the events she now complains of.

Three witnesses, including Dabrowskis girlfriend, who split up with him for 10 months after reading the post, and his brother, who took the screenshots used in the case, told the court the post caused them to doubt his character.

Dabrowski told the court he was concerned the post would affect his teaching career.

In finding the case in his favour, Bowden said Dabrowski was an experienced educator and is entitled to public vindication.

In March 2014, a former Orange high School Student was ordered to pay $105,000 in damages to music teacher Christine Mickle after the New South Wales district court found he had defamed her on Twitter and Facebook.


No Cookies | Herald Sun

Herald Sun (Melbourne)
1 January 2015

Facebook post costs ex-wife $12,000
By Padraic Murphy

A woman has been ordered to pay her former husband $12,500 for defaming him on Facebook as a wife abuser.  
  
Robyn Greeuws December 2012 posting read: Separated from Miro Dabrowski after 18 years of suffering domestic violence and abuse. Now fighting the system to keep my children safe.

Mr Dabrowski sued, saying the allegations were untrue and the post, seen by family and acquaintances, had caused him stress and embarrassment.

One woman told the District Court of Western Australia that it had caused her to change her view of him.

She said that although she knew Mr Dabrowski as a very caring, kind and thoughtful person, the … post caused her to have doubts in her mind, Judge Michael Bowden said.

Mr Dabrowski said he was concerned the post would ruin his reputation in Bunbury where he was a schoolteacher.

Ms Greeuw told the court he was abusive, had humiliated her in front of her parents, accused her of an affair and used to check her phone records.

She also said she suspected him of an affair, and accused him of pushing her and shouldering her into walls.

Mr Dabrowski conceded apologising to his wife for his behaviour, but denied he had been verbally abusive or physically expressed his anger.

Judge Bowden found this incredible, but said this did not lead to automatic acceptance of the version of Ms Greeuw, who he said lacked credibility and had a propensity to say whatever advanced her cause.

He dismissed her claim that the post was justified, saying she had failed to prove this and that Mr Dabrowski, 54, was entitled to be vindicated.

Ms Greeuw also claimed she was unfamiliar with Facebook and had thought the page private. She said her account must have been remotely accessed, and the post fabricated.

But the judge was satisfied she had posted it, removing it about a month later, and was merely trying to avoid the consequences of her actions.

Even if Ms Greeuw was unfamiliar with Facebook  and did not realise that what she typed had been uplifted to her public Facebook site, she typed the remarks, and is responsible for posting them on to her public page, he said.

She was under a duty to monitor the posts appearing on that site, the judge said.

While conceding a risk that the defamation could spread further, the judge said a libel on Facebook by an estranged spouse, though not trivial, was not as grave as one published in a reputable newspaper.


www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/facebook-defamation-man-awarded-1
25k-after-estranged-wifes-domestic-violence-post-20150102-12g
kht.html

2 January 2015
WA Today

Facebook defamation: man awarded $12.5K after estranged wife's 'domestic violence' post
By Michaela Whitbourn
 
A judge has found the woman failed to prove her comment was true.

A woman has been ordered to pay $12,500 to her estranged husband after she defamed him on Facebook by accusing him of subjecting her to years of abuse.

In the latest of a growing number of cases over defamatory comments on social media, school teacher Miro Dabrowski sued his estranged wife, Robyn Greeuw, over a December 2012 Facebook post.

The post, which remained on her Facebook page for about six weeks, said she had "separated from Miro Dabrowski after 18 years of suffering domestic violence and abuse".

Ms Greeuw, who did not have legal representation at the trial, defended the case by arguing that the post was true.

West Australian District Court Judge Michael Bowden ruled in Mr Dabrowski's favour, saying Ms Greeuw had not proved the comments were true. However, he also found that parts of Mr Dabrowski's evidence "lacked credibility".

The court was shown letters from 2010 in which Mr Dabrowski apologised for "spoiling" a holiday.

"I guess I have a right to freak out, panic or whatever I do when things get on top of me but I don't have the right to make my family and you suffer because of it," he wrote.

"I am quite ashamed of taking you and life for granted and having no-one or nothing or no other means to blow off instead of making my loved ones suffer my problems."

In another letter, he wrote of events that caused "panic (and some hype and anger) during week two of the holidays" and said he "came across badly" but was "good intentioned".

Judge Bowden said Mr Dabrowski claimed the letters referred only to his "internal state of mind and not any outward display of anger" but his "evidence in this regard lacked credibility".

Mr Dabrowski called several witnesses during the 10-day trial, including a teacher he started dating in mid-2012.

The court heard that after the pair went on a date on December 23 that year, the woman logged onto Facebook "to see what his ex-wife looked like".

"She opened Ms Greeuw's Facebook page and saw the disputed post which left her shocked, horrified, confused and upset," Judge Bowden said.

She "discontinued the relationship" for about 10 months, but the pair remained on friendly terms and resumed dating in October 2013.

Judge Bowden said "domestic violence and abuse by its very nature usually [occurs] in the matrimonial home and in the absence of independent witnesses" and it was possible to make defamation findings "solely on the evidence of one partner against the other".

However, he said that in this case Ms Greeuw was not a credible witness and was "prepared to say or write whatever she thinks will suit her case". At best, she had established there was an incident during a holiday in 2010 which led Mr Dabrowski to apologise.

He said he had "no doubt that the post caused Mr Dabrowski personal distress, humiliation and hurt and harm to his reputation and it did cause people to 'look at him twice' and be more reserved about their contact with him".

"He is an experienced educator and is entitled to public vindication," Judge Bowden said.

Taking into account the fact that the comments were read by a limited audience and the post was deleted after about six weeks, he ordered Ms Greeuw to pay Mr Dabrowski $12,500 plus interest and costs.

Also at:

http://www.smh.com.au/wa-news/facebook-defamation-man-awarded-125k-after-estranged-wifes-domestic-violence-post-20150102-12gkht.html

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/wa-news/facebook-defamation-man-awarded-125k-after-estranged-wifes-domestic-violence-post-20150102-12gkht.html


Man paid $12,500 in damages after ex-wife s Facebook post - The West Australian

YahooNews
2 January 2015

Man paid $12,500 in damages after ex-wife's Facebook post

A school teacher has been paid $12,500 in compensation after his ex-wife accused him of domestically abusing her on Facebook.

Estranged wife Robyn Greeuw accused husband Miro Dabrowski of subjecting her to years of abuse in the post from December 2012, reports Fairfax media.

The case, which was heard at West Australian District Court, is one of a growing number of defamation cases from posts on social media.

The court heard that the post remained active on social media for six weeks and witnesses came forward to say they had caused her to change her view of Mr Dabrowski.

The post said "separated from Miro Dabrowski after 18 years of suffering domestic violence and abuse".

Ms Greeuw, from Bunbury, WA, opted not to have legal representation at the trial, and simply defended the case by saying that the post was true.

Judge Michael Bowden ruled in Mr Dabrowski's favour, saying Ms Greeuw had not proved the comments were true during the 10 day trial.

Mr Dabrowski called a teacher he started dating in mid-2012 to act as one of his witnesses during the case.

The court heard that after the pair went on a date that year she logged onto Ms Greeuws Facebook account to see what his ex-wife looked like.

Judge Bowden told the court: She opened Ms Greeuw's Facebook page and saw the disputed post which left her shocked, horrified, confused and upset,' reports Fairfax media.

The woman discontinued the relationship for 10 months but the couple resumed dating in October 2013.

Judge Bowden said that Ms Greeuw could not be treated as a credible witness and said he had "no doubt that the post caused Mr Dabrowski personal distress, humiliation and hurt and harm to his reputation and it did cause people to 'look at him twice' and be more reserved about their contact with him".

He is an experienced educator and is entitled to public vindication.


Woman ordered to pay $12,500 for defaming ex-husband on Facebook | Daily Mail Online

Daily Mail
2 January 2015

Woman ordered to pay $12,500 for defaming ex-husband on Facebook after she claimed she suffered domestic violence and abuse during their 18-year marriage
By Louise Cheer for Daily Mail Australia

- Robyn Greeuw posted the defamatory remark on her Facebook in 2012
- It was seen by multiple people, including Miroslaw Dabrowski's brother
- WA District Court judge said he found inconsistencies in both cases
- But Judge Michael Bowden ruled in the estranged husband's favour
- He believed the post had caused Mr Dabrowski 'distress' and 'harm'

A woman has been ordered by a Western Australian court to pay $12,500 worth in damages to her estranged husband after it was found she had defamed him on Facebook.

In December 2012, a post appeared on Robyn Greeuw's social media page saying she had 'separated from Miro Dabrowski after 18 years of suffering domestic violence and abuse. Now fighting the system to keep my children safe'.

But Western Australian District Court Judge Michael Bowden ruled Ms Greeuw was unable to prove she had been subjected to this behaviour, despite finding holes in Mr Dabrowski's case.

'Even applying the extended definition of the words "domestic violence and abuse", as urged by Ms Greeuw, she has failed to prove any essential or substantial truth to the stings of the defamation imputations,' he said.

The post on the Bunbury mother-of-two's page was seen by Mr Dabrowski's brother as well as a woman he started dating in 2012. It was not removed until February 2013.

During the trial, Ms Greeuw maintained she was did not know how to use Facebook and had only started using it just months before the December 2012 post went up.

She said the post was 'a complete fabrication and part of a malicious and vindictive campaign' against her carried out by Mr Dabrowski and other people.

The only reference Ms Greeuw was able to produce as evidence of the violence and abuse she claims to have suffered was a 2010 incident.

Mr Dabrowski later penned a letter to apologise to his wife for his 'freak out' and 'spoiling the holiday'.

The letter was presented as evidence during the trial and read: 'I don't deal with my panic attacks well  the panic and freak out period I had re holidays just showed that'.

But Mr Dabrowski told the court this referred to 'his internal state of mind' but Judge Bowden said this defence 'lacked credibility'.

However, the judge said this did not mean he accepted Ms Greeuw's version of events.

He believed she had a 'propensity to say whatever advances her cause' and was 'not a credible witness'.

Judge Bowden said he had 'no doubt' Ms Greeuw's post had caused Mr Dabrowski 'personal distress, humiliation and hurt and harm to his reputation'.

'It did cause people to "look at him twice" and be more reserved about their contact with him,' the judge said.

During the civil trial, a number of witnesses said the post had altered their perception of the school teacher to the point where they questioned their association with him and his behaviour.

As he was handing down his ruling, Judge Bowden said content on social media had a way of spreading quickly and damages would be awarded to Mr Dabrowski 'as reparation for the harm done to his personal and business reputation and for vindication to his reputation'.

'Defamatory publications on social media spread easily by the simple manipulation of computers,' he said.

'A public Facebook page is able to be viewed worldwide by whoever clicks on that page.'


Australian Woman Fined $12,500 for Defaming Husband on Facebook

International Business Times
2 January 2015

Australian Woman Fined $12,500 for Defaming Husband on Facebook (IBT)
By Mangala Dilip

A Sydney court has fined a woman $12,500 for posting defamatory comments about her estranged husband on Facebook, saying her accusation was not credible.

In the Facebook post dated Dec. 12, 2012, Robyn Greeuw announced her separation from Miro Dabrowski after 18 years of marriage. She also claimed that the school teacher abused her during their years together, Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The post, which remained for about six weeks, wasn't substantiated by proof.

The judge at the West Australian District Court Michael Bowden said: "Domestic violence and abuse by its very nature usually (occurs) in the matrimonial home and in the absence of independent witnesses, it was possible to make defamation findings solely on the evidence of one partner against the other."

However, he said that in this particular case, Greeuw could not be considered a credible witness and she is likely to "say or write whatever she thinks will suit her case".

At the same time, the judge also found that some parts of Dabrowski's evidence "lacked credibility." Excerpts from a letter written by Dabrowski apologising for "spoiling a holiday" read: "I am quite ashamed of taking you and life for granted and having no-one or nothing or no other means to blow off instead of making my loved ones suffer my problems."?

However, after considering arguments and evidences from both parties, the judge decided to rule in the husband's favour.

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Post #42444 by dad4life on February 23rd 2012, 1:32 PM (in topic “Family Courts bungle to hit de factos as error throws property settlements into doubt”)

Family Courts bungle to hit de factos as error throws property settlements into doubt: Gillard government warns against trying to take advantage of court order bungle

The Australian
22 February 2012

Gillard government warns against trying to take advantage of court order bungle
By Lanai Vasek

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon says it would be "foolish" for disgruntled former de facto partners to disobey court orders that now may be invalid due to a federal government blunder.

Ms Roxon warned against anyone ceasing maintenance payments or trying to reclaim property after an administrative error put thousands of rulings in doubt.

"I think that would be a foolish step for litigants to take," Ms Roxon told ABC Radio.

"However I'm sure if they did the other party would be back before the court very quickly."

Since 2009 the Family Court has had the power to settle the property disputes of de facto couples, after state courts relinquished their powers to the federal government.

But when the shift occurred, the federal government neglected to arrange for the Governor-General to proclaim a start date for the laws.

The blunder, which Ms Roxon labelled an "unfortunate administrative error", means all property and maintenance orders by the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court between March 2009 and February 11 this year are now uncertain.

The blunder was detected earlier this month during Family Court proceedings in Melbourne. The case was adjourned until the issues with the legislation could be resolved.
Legislation is being drafted to retrospectively correct past orders, and the government hopes to introduce the bill into the House of Representatives in March.

It's understood the Attorney-General's department has admitted it was responsible for the error, which occurred when Robert McClelland was Attorney-General. No one in the department has been reprimanded.

A proclamation by Governor-General Quentin Bryce was rushed through on February 9 and the changes to the laws finally took effect on February 11.

This means that any orders made from February 11 cannot be challenged.

However, any orders made between March 1, 2009, and February 11 this year are potentially invalid because the Family Court did not have jurisdiction to make them.

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Post #42443 by dad4life on February 23rd 2012, 1:30 PM (in topic “Family Courts bungle to hit de factos as error throws property settlements into doubt”)

Family Courts bungle to hit de factos as error throws property settlements into doubt: Rush by ALP federal government to fix legal bungle

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/rush-to-fix-legal-bungle-20120222-1to6i.html

The Age (Melbourne)
23 February 2012

Rush to fix legal bungle
By Dan Harrison

The Gillard government will introduce retrospective legislation to fix a bungle that has created uncertainty over the legal validity of thousands of Family Court orders relating to de facto couples.

The orders are in doubt because the government failed to arrange for the Governor-General to proclaim a starting date for laws that transferred property and maintenance disputes between de facto couples to the jurisdiction of federal courts.

The problem affects all such orders by the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court between March 2009 and February 11 this year. The laws were eventually proclaimed on February 9 this year, and took effect from February 11.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said she was ''very frustrated'' about the error and the government would introduce retrospective legislation to fix it.

''It's a clear example of where a small administrative error can have enormous consequences and we are now working very fast,'' she told ABC radio.

Ms Roxon said the overwhelming majority of such matters involved consent orders. ''In that situation you would expect that parties would continue to stick to the agreements. We urge all parties to do that because this is a technical matter,'' she said.

She said if people abandoned their agreements, their matters would return to the courts, where the previous orders would probably be automatically reinstated.

Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis said the error was ''an act of monumental incompetence'' but he offered the Coalition's support for legislation to remedy it.

With AAP

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Post #42442 by dad4life on February 23rd 2012, 1:28 PM (in topic “Family Courts bungle to hit de factos as error throws property settlements into doubt”)

Family Courts bungle to hit de factos as error throws property settlements into doubt: ABC Radio - World Today: Government vows to fix Family Court bungle

Transcript FYI.

ABC Radio - The World Today
23 February 2012

Government vows to fix Family Court bungle
By Simon Santow

ASHLEY HALL: The Federal Government says it will have to introduce retrospective legislation to fix an embarrassing legal bungle in the family court system.

Property settlements and maintenance agreements involving de facto couples have been declared invalid on a technicality.

That's because bureaucrats forgot to get changes to the law officially proclaimed by the Governor General when they were made three years ago.

Lawyers say they can't recall a similar bungle in recent years and the Opposition says it's proof this Government can't even get routine procedures right.

Simon Santow reports.

SIMON SANTOW: From March 2009 until 10 days ago the Family Court has been issuing orders for de facto couples who've split and no-one has thought to question the court's authority.

That was until a barrister in a case alerted a judge to a strange omission in the law.

NICOLA ROXON: It's a very, you know, clear example of where quite a small administrative error can have enormous consequences.

SIMON SANTOW: The Attorney General Nicola Roxon says she's got the Government's finest legal minds on to the problem.

NICOLA ROXON: We are now working very fast. It will require retrospective legislation to be fixed and we are taking those steps, and I'm pleased to see that the Opposition will support that.

SIMON SANTOW: The good news is that the overwhelming number of orders are by consent - that is, both sides agree on what should be done with property and other assets and financial matters.

NICOLA ROXON: Of course in that situation you would expect that parties would continue to stick to the agreement. In fact, we urge all parties to do that because this is a technical matter. There's no question that the hearings are appropriate and the input of the judges and magistrates are beyond question.

This is an error that happened once before when the previous government was in power in 2006. That was not corrected until our government had it brought to our attention.

There was no, you know, particular reporting of that, there was no major disruption to the family law system and we would hope that people would approach it in the same sensible way.

SIMON SANTOW: That's not quite how the Opposition sees it.

The shadow attorney general George Brandis says he can't recall anything of this magnitude happening under a Coalition government.

GEORGE BRANDIS: I think it reinforces everybody's belief that this government can't get anything right. What has happened here is that the Government has incredibly neglected to proclaim its own legislation and let the mistake go unnoticed for three years.

This was a mistake that was made in the Attorney General's office but also in the Cabinet unit of the Prime Minister's office.

It is a blunder at the very heart of government, a government that can't even work out how to proclaim its own legislation is not a government that can be trusted to run the country competently.

SIMON SANTOW: Politics aside, Senator Brandis does agree that the only fix now is retrospective legislation.

Family law specialist Geoff Sinclair from the Law Council of Australia says until that's done, there's the potential for important work by the court to be undone or ignored.

GEOFF SINCLAIR: If for example parties had reached an agreement say in December of last year that they would transfer a property within say a 90 day period - if that property has not yet been transferred and a party now doesn't wish to comply with their obligations under the terms of that order, it may be that there's no force in effect to allow or to ensure or enforce that order to take place.

So it may be that orders which parties had been- thought had been made and had relied upon, those orders may not be able to compel the other party to do what they're obliged to do under the terms of them.

SIMON SANTOW: Now the Federal Government says it's going to retrospectively legislate to fix this.

GEOFF SINCLAIR: Yes.

SIMON SANTOW: Can you see that as tying everything up?

GEOFF SINCLAIR: Well I hope so. I mean, it's a position where retrospective is certainly not something that lawyers like but this is a case where something has to be done.

SIMON SANTOW: And what about costs? Do you think it's going to add to costs because of the potential for parties to have to seek further legal advice when they might have thought that a matter was closed?

GEOFF SINCLAIR: Well it may have the potential of doing that but I would hope that in the majority of cases, people will either adhere to the agreement or the decision that the umpire has basically made.

SIMON SANTOW: Would you hope that your fellow lawyers would perhaps be benevolent or understanding in this situation in terms of charging?

GEOFF SINCLAIR: Well I would hope that they would be. I mean, this is something which we haven't seen before. I would expect that there would be a clear understanding that it's not the fault of the client that has caused this scenario and they should look at it accordingly.

ASHLEY HALL: Geoff Sinclair, the chairman of the Family Law Division of the Law Council of Australia, ending Simon Santow's report.

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Post #42441 by dad4life on February 23rd 2012, 1:25 PM (in topic “Family Courts bungle to hit de factos as error throws property settlements into doubt”)

Family Courts bungle to hit de factos as error throws property settlements into doubt: De facto court orders in doubt

The Sydney Morning Herald
22 February 2012

De facto court orders in doubt

AAP

Attorney General Nicola Roxon is frustrated a "small administrative error" could put in doubt three years' worth of Family Court property settlements and other orders handed down to de facto couples.

Since 2009 the Family Court has had the power to settle the property disputes of de facto couples, after state courts relinquished their powers to the federal government.

But when the shift occurred, the federal government neglected to arrange for the governor-general to proclaim a starting date for the laws.

Thousands of orders, including property settlements and maintenance agreements handed down since 2009 are now uncertain.

Ms Roxon labelled the incident an "unfortunate administrative error" but said the government was working to fix the issue.

"It's a very, clear example of where quite a small administrative error can have enormous consequences and we are now working very fast," she said.


The overwhelming majority of these matters involved consent orders.

"Of course in that situation you would expect that parties would continue to stick to the agreements. In fact we urge all parties to do that because this is a technical matter," she said.

Asked about bitter disputes where one partner pays maintenance to another and could claim there was no legal basis to continue, Ms Roxon said she discouraged people from stopping payments.

Chairman of the family law division of the Law Council of Australia Geoff Sinclair told The Australian that because 90 per cent of family orders were made by agreement, he hoped most people would not contest the orders.

He said he believed the number of cases affected would be in the thousands.

"We are looking to see whether there can be retrospective legislation to deal with those cases," he said.

Australian Greens senator Penny Wright said the government had no choice but to introduce legislation retrospectively.

"A quick resolution to remove any doubt about the validity of these cases is in the best interest of all parties and must be a priority," she said in a statement.

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Post #42410 by dad4life on February 22nd 2012, 11:16 AM (in topic “Family Courts bungle to hit de factos as error throws property settlements into doubt”)

Family Courts bungle to hit de factos as error throws property settlements into doubt

The Australian
22 February 2012

Court bungle to hit de factos as error throws property settlements into doubt
By Nicola Berkovic

Thousands of Family Court orders relating to de facto couples, including property settlements and maintenance agreements, have been cast into doubt by a major federal government blunder.

The government neglected in 2009 to arrange for the Governor-General to proclaim a start date for legislation that handed power to the Family Court to handle property and maintenance disputes between de facto couples. The mistake, which Attorney-General Nicola Roxon last night labelled an "unfortunate administrative error", means all such property and maintenance orders by the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court between March 2009 and February 11 this year are now uncertain.

Ms Roxon said the government was working to fix the issue as soon as possible, but the opposition seized on the blunder as an "astonishing act of incompetence" that reinforced the view that the government could not get anything right.

Previously, heterosexual and same-sex de facto couples had their property matters dealt with by the state courts.

In 2009, the states referred their powers to the commonwealth, for the first time enabling de facto couples to have their property disputes dealt with by the Family Court as married couples do. However, no start date for the proclamation was arranged.

It is understood this oversight occurred within the Attorney-General's Department, when Robert McClelland was attorney-general. This meant the changes failed to begin.

The result is that since 2009 the Family Court has been making orders relating to de facto couples for which it had no jurisdiction.

Ms Roxon said she had directed her department to put its full attention to fixing the problem as quickly as possible. "This is a very unfortunate administrative error where a small mistake can have extensive consequences," she said.

The blunder was detected only earlier this month during Family Court proceedings in Melbourne. The case was adjourned until the issues with the legislation could be resolved.

A proclamation by Governor-General Quentin Bryce was rushed through on February 9 and the changes to the laws finally took effect on February 11.

This means that any orders made from February 11 cannot be challenged.

However, any orders made between March 1, 2009, and February 11 this year are potentially invalid because the Family Court did not have jurisdiction to make them.

The chairman of the family law division of the Law Council of Australia, Geoff Sinclair, said the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court were trying to ascertain how many cases were involved, but he believed they were in the thousands.

"We are looking to see whether there can be retrospective legislation to deal with those cases . . . I think that is certainly doable," Mr Sinclair said. "We are urging the Attorney-General to take whatever steps are necessary, as soon as possible, to make sure legislation is enacted."

He said about 90 per cent of family orders were made by consent so he hoped they would not be challenged by the parties.

"It doesn't matter whether parties are in a de facto relationship or a marital relationship; when the relationship breaks down there'll often be a lot of emotion from both sides," he said.

"We certainly don't want a position where people have to go back and revisit issues that have occurred in the past, when hopefully people have put things behind them."

Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis said: "This is an astonishing act of incompetence at the heart of government. It reinforces every impression the Australian people must already have that this government cannot get anything right."

However, it is understood a similar oversight occurred under the Howard government in 2006 when the Family Law Act was amended to give the Family Court jurisdiction to consider appeals from family law magistrates in Western Australia.

A proclamation was made to fix this oversight. Senator Brandis said the opposition would support legislation to fix the current problem.

Former Family Court chief justice Alastair Nicholson said the oversight was serious: "If those settlements are called into question, it's obviously very significant for the people involved.

"It seems the government has no real choice but to pass legislation retrospectively approving them."

NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith said it was disappointing the federal government had failed to deliver the reforms properly.

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Post #37741 by dad4life on July 15th 2011, 9:10 PM (in topic “Dad gets custody from mum who wouldn't let kids grow up”)

Dad gets custody from mum who wouldn't let kids grow up

Herald Sun
15 July 2011

Dad gets custody from mum who wouldn't let kids grow up
By Shelley Hadfield

An over-protective mum didn't toilet-train her children because she couldn't bear to see them grow up, a court has been told.

The woman kept her son in nappies until well past his fifth birthday.

A Family Court of Australia judge found that if the two children were to live with their mother, they would have no relationship with their father.

This would expose them to emotional harm because of her inability to let them become independent and develop normally.

The father, who has been given custody, told the court he believed the mother had not toilet-trained the children, aged five and almost four, because she could not bear to have them grow up.

He told the court the older child would not even feed himself, insisting that he be hand-fed.

The mother claimed the children wore nappies only when they were leaving the house. But Justice Garry Watts said he did not believe the children had been toilet-trained in the conventional sense.

And he believed the older child was deliberately not going to the toilet for psychological reasons.

An interim order earlier this year saw the children go to live with their father, after the mother sent him a letter stating it was "all gonna end very soon".

In a judgment published this week, Justice Watts gave the father sole parental responsibility, giving the mother only supervised time until next February.

The parents have been ordered to ensure the children are fully toilet-trained.

Justice Watts said that if the children lived with their mother, they would be exposed to her irrational ideas and fears.

He accepted a doctor's opinion that the mother's "enmeshed relationship" with the children was likely to undermine their psychological needs and could have drastic consequences.

"(The doctor) considers the mother to be extremely over-protective and is finding it difficult to let the children separate from her and assert their independence," Justice Watts said.

The mother wanted the older child home-schooled.

In February, Justice Watts ordered that the boy attend school immediately. But in his latest judgment, he said that was yet to occur.

The mother made allegations against the father in court, but Justice Watts said she did not impress him as a reliable witness.

The father claimed she would stop at nothing to avoid his having unsupervised time with the children.

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Post #37738 by dad4life on July 15th 2011, 8:42 PM (in topic “Divorce is a big deal even for adult kids”)

Divorce is a big deal even for adult kids

According to experts and those with firsthand knowledge, a late-life breakup between Mum and Dad can take a devastating toll on their adult offspring.

The Seattle Times
7 July 2011

Divorce is a big deal even for adult kids

When a long-running marriage abruptly ends, childhood memories may be questioned.

By Chuck Barney, Contra Costa Times

Walnut Creek, Calif. - It was a bombshell of mind-boggling magnitude. In February, Kelly received a phone call from her mother, who tearfully delivered the grim news that Kelly's father was leaving her for another woman.

A marriage that produced four kids and lasted 42 years was about to die.

Kelly, who asked that her real name be withheld to protect her family's privacy, recalls being in a state of shock as she relayed the news to her sister and two brothers. Then she rushed to her childhood home in Oakland, where she found her mother sobbing and her father packing up to leave.

"I tried to comfort her, and I just yelled at him," she recalls. "It was so surreal, so terrible, so ugly. " I was just completely blindsided by it all."

Through the years, a great deal of attention and research has been focused on the corrosive impact divorce has upon young children. Conversely, it's often assumed that adult offspring, because they're mature and independent, are better equipped to take their parents' divorce in stride.

But often, that isn't the case. According to experts and those with firsthand knowledge, a late-life breakup between Mum and Dad can take a devastating toll on their adult offspring.

"For all those years, they've had a family structure and a reality that they could count on," says Audrey Silverman-Foote, a marriage and family therapist in Pleasant Hill, Calif. "Now, all of a sudden, that ground has been ripped out from under their feet. It can be incredibly distressing."

When a long-running marriage abruptly ends, childhood memories may be questioned (Was it all a facade?) and family customs thrown into disarray. In some cases, education or career plans may be threatened by financial issues. Moreover, adult children are often dragged into the mediation process.

And, in the coming years, more may experience the shock of it all. A 2009 survey conducted by Bowling Green State University researchers found that the divorce rate among older adults had doubled since 1980. They also predicted that, as baby boomers age, there will be "further growth" in the divorce rate for older adults.

Four months after learning about her parents' breakup, Kelly, a 35-year-old corporate retailer, is struggling to make sense of it. She sees her mother wracked with pain and feels helpless to do anything about it. Meanwhile, her "best friend" of a father, who used to call her nearly every day, has seen her only three times since February. And she fears that the home she grew up in will have to be sold.

"I honestly think that, in some ways, it's worse for someone my age to go through this than a young child," she says. "Little kids are resilient. They adapt as they grow up. I've had 34 years of Mom and Dad being together. I thought I had this perfect family, and it's all been shattered."

Kelly is also learning that a divorce at this stage of life can produce a dramatically different kind of fallout. When a split occurs in a home involving young children, conscientious parents generally try to present a united front and/or shield the kids from the brutal details of their breakup.

But older parents often expect, or demand, their adult offspring to take sides. And they tend to want to confide in them - sometimes to an uncomfortable extent.

"On the night my dad left, my mom told me some things about him I'd never heard before - things that made me even more mad," Kelly says. "It's awkward. My mom had always been a private person. Now, it's like she wants to act like a friend and tell me everything. It's a lot to handle."

Judy W. of Walnut Creek can relate. In the years after her parents' 35-year marriage crumbled, Judy's mom continually disparaged her father and revealed tawdry details about the relationship.

"She'd talk about what a rotten (person) he was and how he'd cheat on her with trashy women. And she'd talk about their sexual encounters - how he wouldn't touch her," recalls Judy, 64, who asked to withhold her full name. "It was disgusting. Time and time again, I told her, 'If you don't shut up, I'm not coming to visit."'

Richmond's Dawn Munson, who was 26 when her parents ended their 32-year marriage in 2000, had a similar problem as both her mother and father filled her in on the graphic details of their sex lives, arguments and other issues.

"If I had been 15 or younger, they wouldn't have told me a lot of that stuff," she says. "At one point, I got them both on the phone and set some ground rules. I drew a line in the sand. It was a weird kind of role reversal."

In the months following her parents' divorce, Munson often resented having to behave as the "grown-up" in certain circumstances.

"There was this expectation that my brother and I behave and react as adults rather than their children," she says. "But no matter how mature one is or how prepared you think you are, they're still your parents. My gut instinct was to throw a tantrum. I wanted to be sad and mad. I wanted to be treated with kid gloves."

That's a natural reaction, according to Janice Green, a veteran divorce attorney practicing in Austin, Texas, and author of "Divorce Over 50: Your Guide to the Unique Legal & Financial Challenges."

"It's the kind of rock-your world psychological punch that is hard to fathom if you haven't been through it yourself," she says.

In her more than 30 years on the job, Green has been privy to a number of messy divorce scenarios involving adult children. She has seen situations in which an offspring's role - and stake - in the family business becomes imperiled, and others in which parents battle over assets set aside for student loans or a down payment on a house for the son or daughter.

And once, she worked a case in which an adult daughter became a "super sleuth" who spied on her wayward father, hoping to catch him in an affair. The case was settled out of court, so the daughter didn't have to testify and her father didn't learn of her actions.

"Think about how that might have ripped the family apart," Green says. "You can imagine the kind of scars it would have left behind."

As for Kelly, she's hopeful that her scars will heal over time. But for now, the sense of loss is overwhelming. It doesn't help that, in the middle of it all, she's planning her own wedding for the fall.

"I always imagined that my dad would walk me down the aisle," she says. "But right now, I feel like I don't even know him."

SURVIVING THE SPLIT

Janice Green is an Austin, Texas, divorce attorney with more than 30 years of experience and is the author of "Divorce After 50: Your Guide to the Unique Legal & Financial Challenges." She offers some practical advice to adult children struggling with the divorce of their parents:

- If you go with a parent to meet with an attorney, keep in mind that the confidentiality privilege is just between the client and attorney. Give your parent a chance to be alone with the attorney to cover sensitive topics.

- If your parents are fighting in your presence, ask them to be civil. Parents tend to respect adult children who draw boundaries.

- Offer to help with time-consuming tasks, such as culling through financial records, especially when it is time to estimate living expenses, both current and future. Sorting through records and running calculations is overwhelming to anyone of any age going through a divorce. Your help can be a welcome relief for a parent who was not the marital bookkeeper.

- If your parents aren't communicating, consider the risks of acting as a messenger or an interpreter. There are times when they may need your help, but think twice before diving into their drama.

- Don't try to be a "super sleuth." Spying on a parent can backfire and is best left to investigation specialists. If testimony is needed, you do not want to be the one on the witness stand describing your mother's tryst escapade.

- Personal weaknesses and foibles are magnified during divorce. Taking sides is tempting and sometimes appropriate. But "divorcing" a parent can put you in a difficult position if reconciliation occurs. Also, alliances sometimes shift during a divorce.

- Help your parents design a new future. If your family home has to be sold, take photos, hold the memories and adapt with an adventuresome spirit.

- Telling grandchildren that grandma and grandpa are splitting can be a challenge. So much depends on the age of the children, their degree of closeness to the grandparents and how much acrimony is involved. Those very close to the grandchildren often want to be involved in the explanation and give reassurance that both grandparents will continue to adore them.

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