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My Relationship Has Ended – I Don’t Know What to Do

My Relationship Has Ended – I Don’t Know What to Do

When your partner calls time on your relationship it can be devastating, particularly if you didn’t see it coming. A situation has been forced on you, and understandably your emotions are in turmoil.

People describe feeling grief, anger, heartbreak, and sorrow for what they have lost and a future that suddenly looks bleak. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions and it’s hard to get off.

The pathway to closure when a relationship has unexpectedly ended can be a difficult one to tread. The end of a relationship, for many people, still means that contact needs to be maintained with their ex as financial settlements are negotiated and finalised.

But in the case of kids, there is a lifetime of co-parenting – which incidentally doesn’t just stop when they reach their 18th birthday. It can be really tough when you didn’t want to break-up in the first place.

So, what do you do when you’re faced with a separation that you didn’t want? Here are our 4 top tips.

  1. Face up to facts – This probably isn’t what you want to hear but there really is no point in burying your head in the sand. You often hear of people who simply refuse to believe that their partner has ended their relationship. They cling to the hope that their partner will come back once they’ve had time to think things through.

    The truth is your partner has probably been ‘thinking things through’ for several weeks/months and only now has had the courage to end your relationship. Your attitude is only going to make them think that you’re not taking them seriously. Instead, you need to acknowledge their decision and show them that you’re ready to listen to their concerns.

  1. Can the relationship be repaired? – If you want to try and save your relationship then start making enquiries about professional help that could be of benefit to you and your family.

    Do some research, and when you have looked into your options, ask your partner if they’re willing to give it a go. There’s going to be more than one option, so find time to talk with each other about different approaches and what to try. Now is the time for you to put in some effort and show your partner just how much you want to repair the relationship.

  1. What happens if things don’t work out?- It’s essential that you are prepared for this eventuality. If your relationship is beyond repair you need to reach out for advice on where you stand. Taking advice and guidance doesn’t mean that you’re being underhand, nor does it mean that you’re pushing for separation. It simply prepares you for any eventuality. Find yourself a family law specialist who can give you sound advice to help you consider your options. This way, you’re in a much better position to make informed decisions.

  1. Seek professional support – This is a time when you’re going to feel at odds with yourself. It may be difficult to get to grips with what’s happening, you feel you’re an emotional wreck, your ex is sending out confusing signals, and your children are likely picking up on a different atmosphere in the home. Worse still you may find yourself turning to unhealthy ways of soothing your pain such as alcohol or drugs.

    You may have a friend that has been through a separation and can offer you their support. However, don’t underestimate the benefit of professional counselling in this situation. Talking things through with an impartial party can help clear your mind and enable you to make better decisions. Your GP can refer you for counselling.

To sum up …..

Some couples will get back together, and their relationship will be better than before.

Other couples will make their separation formal and go it alone. If this happens to you, then give yourself space to rebuild yourself – learn from the relationship that has ended so that you don’t enter another relationship with the same baggage.

Regardless of the outcome, challenges in a relationship help you discover that you can grow and adapt, whatever the circumstances. You have all that you need within yourself and professional support will give you the strength to enter the next chapter of your life.

Even though you may be in a dark place right now there is light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t bury your head in the sand, things will only stay the same.

We all change, it’s how you adapt that makes the difference. Adapt in a positive way and have the courage to move towards the light at the end of the tunnel and a new beginning.

Should I Make a Will and Why?

Should I Make a Will and Why?

Covid-19 has created anxious times for everyone and caused most people to reflect on life and what matters most to them. One thing that it has brought home to many of us is the fragility of life and that it can be wiped away at any age and when we least expect it. This has caused several people to question whether they need to update their will or consider making one.

This article explains why you should make a will (not just because of the COVID 19 pandemic) and what’s involved.

Should I make a will?

In a word, yes!

Preparing for your death is probably the last thing on your mind when you’re a nineteen-year-old but ultimately it’s just as important whether you’re 19 or 90.

Why?

Because, if you die without having made a will, all that you own will be shared out according to Queensland law.

In other words, you don’t get to have a say in who receives what.

Preparing your will may not be at the top of your ‘things to do’ list, but it does guarantee that your loved ones receive what you want them to, should or when the worst happens.

Even if you have made a will, you should ensure that it’s updated if and when your circumstances change.

Can anyone make a will?

A person needs to be 18 and above in order to make a will and to be compos mentis (of ‘sound mind’). That said, a married person who is younger than 18 is able to make a will.

 What should I put in my will?

Theoretically, you can say almost anything in a will. If you don’t have a large or complex estate, then typically you might just say something along the lines of “I leave everything to my wife and then to my children.”

Speaking of children, if you have kids below the age of 18, you might want to consider including a guardian clause.

Potentially, they could be handed to a family member or friend who either doesn’t want to take care of them or who may not bring them up in the way you want. Be sure to ask the proposed guardian if they are willing to take on the responsibility if you die when your children are still minors.

As well as listing the people you want to inherit your money or assets, there may be people that you expressly want to exclude from your will. Since you won’t be there to explain the exclusion, it might be an idea to include a short explanation in your will, even if it’s only to say that you fell out several years ago and haven’t spoken since.

What if I change my mind about something in my will, can I change it at a later date?

Yes, of course. Circumstances change, as we know, and when they do you can amend your will. Remember, your will applies from the date of your death, so you can change it at any time up until that point.

Can I make my own will?

Yes, you can make your own will by downloading a template, printing it, filling it out, and adding your signature to make it official. However, we don’t recommend you make a will without the assistance of a lawyer in Queensland. Even a simple will can be wrongly prepared.

This could mean your loved ones having to sort out the mess by applying to the Supreme Court in a process which can be lengthy and expensive. At this emotional time, it’s the last thing you’d want them to be worrying about.

In the worst-case scenario, your will may be declared invalid and your estate could be divided up as per intestacy rules, which could totally oppose your wishes.

How do I make a will?

Speak with the experts in our Wills and Estate Planning Department. Our friendly lawyers will talk you through every step of the process and ensure that a will is written that truly carries out your wishes.

Wills can be complicated and by using the services of an experienced legal professional, they can also offer advice on things like capital gains tax or whether a trust is required to protect minors or vulnerable people that may be beneficiaries. If you’re looking to make a will, then get in touch with Strategic Lawyers by calling 1314 LAW or book online today.

Parenting Plan Vs Consent Order – What’s the Difference?

Parenting Plan Vs Consent Order – What’s the Difference?

Deciding to go your separate ways is never easy but when there are children involved, it’s really tough.

Who will your children live with and how much time will you both get to spend with them?

It’s a hard call.

We understand that this can be an incredibly emotional and draining time. That said, if you can reach an agreement with your partner over your children’s living arrangements, you can avoid the need to go to court and save yourself time and money.

It’s always best to document any agreement you make with your ex-partner and there are two ways of doing this – with a Parenting Plan or a Consent Order.

To help you make an informed decision, carry on reading to learn the difference between the two.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a voluntary agreement between you and your ex-partner that is written down and signed by both of you. It should address all aspects of your children’s care, welfare, and development, and contain the following information:

  • Who your children will live with
  • Time spent with the other parent
  • Practical considerations relating to your children’s day-to-day living
  • How you will both liaise on major long-term issues affecting your children

A Parenting Plan is a useful option and provided you and your ex remain on speaking terms, it allows for flexibility.

Should your family circumstances change, for instance, or as your children get older, the existing Parenting Plan can be replaced with an updated version provided both parents are in agreement.

Furthermore, unlike a Consent Order, a Parenting Plan can contain provision for support and maintenance.

However, do remember that a Parenting Plan is not a legally binding document. Therefore, if court proceedings are required at a later date, the judge will make a call based on what he or she considers to be in the best interests of your children. So while the Parenting Plan will be given consideration by the court, it might not always result in the desired outcome.

So now you know about Parenting Plans, let’s take a look at Consent Orders and what’s involved.

What is a Consent Order?

A Consent Order contains similar information to that of a Parenting Plan and also has to be signed by both parents.  

The main difference between this and a Parenting Order is that once the Consent Order has been signed by both parties and approved by the Court, it becomes a legally enforceable document. Consequently, it’s very difficult to make any changes unless your circumstances have changed significantly.

In addition, should it be found that a parent has contravened a Court Order without having reasonable grounds to do so, certain penalties may be applied. These can range from compensating the other parent for time lost with their children, to having a prison sentence imposed.

Which is the best option?

It’s hard to determine what the best option is since each case is different and depends on the individuals and their particular family circumstances.  

Pros and Cons

A Parenting Plan is best suited to separated parents that remain amicable and able to discuss matters relating to their children quite freely. It’s also a good option for couples wanting some structure in their co-parenting agreement.

Consent Orders, on the other hand, may be considered a preferred option if you don’t trust one another to comply with the agreement. Not only is a Consent Order a long-term legally binding parenting agreement, but it also acts as a deterrent to anyone who might otherwise consider breaking the rules. Moreover, it provides the means for enforcement and penalisation.

You should note that a fee of $165 will be incurred when filing for an application for a Consent Order with a court.

Children should come first

When faced with the choice between a Parenting Plan and a Consent Order, your children’s best interests should always be your main concern. By drawing up your own guidelines and expectations rather than leaving a court to make that decision on your behalf, you’ll both be satisfied that any terms outlined are the best they can be for your given family circumstances.

If you need any further help in understanding the difference between a Parenting Plan and a Consent Order or need expert advice tailored to your circumstances, then please don’t hesitate to contact our Family Lawyers at Strategic Lawyers in Townsville.

How Best To Deal With Child Custody During The Coronavirus Crisis

How Best To Deal With Child Custody During The Coronavirus Crisis

For the vast majority of people, the Coronavirus pandemic has had a profound and serious impact on everyday life. The observance of social distancing and isolation means that complex situations such as parenting orders, which can be challenging at best – are now made even more difficult.

This is why one of the most frequently asked questions for family lawyers right now is “How can I best manage my shared child custody arrangements in light of the current situation?

As the Principle Lawyer for Strategic Lawyers, many people ask me if they still need to comply with court orders and how they go about managing changeovers now that schools in Queensland have closed.  

The key point is that people need to continue to comply with court orders where absolutely possible.

However, the Family Court of Australia also recognises that in this present climate there may be situations that arise where compliance with current court orders can prove difficult, if not impossible.

This may be caused where any child-parent meetings occur at a designated contact point outside that of the parental home. Or, any ‘pick up’ arrangements occur at a particular school and that school is now closed.

Alternatively, there may be genuine safety concerns where either the other parent or someone in close contact with the parent is showing symptoms of COVID 19 and may otherwise restrict the safe movement of the child from one house to another.    

If you do find yourself faced with any of the situations above then communication is key. Here are some pointers…

  • Try talking to the other party to come up with a workable and practical solution that tackles these problems.
  • If you cannot communicate, then speak via a third-party mediator to work out a sensible resolution.
  • Each parent should firstly consider the safety of the child, but in addition, take the concerns of the other parent into account when making new or revised arrangements.   

Understandably, these unprecedented times mean that parents may feel torn between wanting to limit their child’s movements and breaching parenting orders. However, our advice to clients would be to make sure that the other party (parent) is not missing out.

Here are some helpful ways that you can do this…

Maintaining telephone calls

More importantly than ever, telephone calls should be maintained during this period. So ensure you set aside and agree on telephone time with the other parent and your child – Video chat like Facetime or Skype are good options.

When or if this is not possible, it might be an idea to …

Invent ‘make-up time’ or ‘credits’

If the current situation causes the other party to miss out on visitation rights, you might want to try and agree on a system of make-up time or credits. Document the agreement where possible by putting it in writing or email to the fact that any time lost now during the pandemic, will be redeemed in full once the period of self-isolation is over.

What about parents who are isolating their children due to health concerns?

Naturally, it’s imperative that parents and carers act in the best interests of their children including their safety and wellbeing. However, any parent who is self-isolating their child for health reasons should still make every conceivable effort to ensure their child continues to maintain a relationship with the other parent, even if it isn’t face-to-face.

So what’s the key takeaway?

If an agreement can be reached about any child custody arrangements, even if only for a short period of time, then ideally, it needs to be put in writing. Consent order applications can be filed electronically to the Court for any changes in parenting orders. Furthermore, because there is no hearing involved, any decisions are quick.

Failing that, then make things clear by email, text, Talking Parents or WhatsApp conversation. This can help the Court to understand what has and what hasn’t been agreed, especially if there is a need for further Family Law Court hearings at a later date.

If it isn’t possible to seek any form of compromise, then interested parties can mediate their differences through law firms like ours. Again, agreed applications can be filed electronically with the courts for speedy results. Otherwise, urgent applications to the court can also be made.

If you’d like to find out more information about how to navigate child custody during this difficult time or need further mediation, then contact the team at Strategic Lawyers. We’re here to help you to reach the best collective solution for your child. Call today for a consultation on (07) 4795 1114.

Justice For Prison Inmates – We’re Intent On Change

Justice For Prison Inmates – We’re Intent On Change

Anyone sent to jail has certain basic rights and that includes legal help. Under the law, prisoners can phone their lawyers and arrange visits.

While this is only right and fair, visitation constraints are currently preventing Townsville lawyers from getting to see their clients in a timely manner – and clearly, this is a major cause for concern.

Not only is this having a significant impact on law firms but also on those individuals requiring representation.

We understand how upsetting it can be for family members and friends when a loved one is sent to prison and when they are anxiously waiting for an update on the prisoner’s situation. The question is…

What has caused this legal logjam in the first place?

In essence, there are two significant factors that collectively have contributed to the problem. They are as follows:

ill-conceived QCS initiatives

Much of the delay in proper justice for our clients has been caused in part by the lack of time allocated by Queensland Corrective Services for law-related visits.

Townsville Correctional Centre, for example, were granting lawyers just one-day visitation per week. Unfortunately, due to the number of prisoners seeking representation, a person that was eligible for bail may have had to spend a month in prison when their case should have been heard in a week or two.

Even so, this pales into insignificance when faced with a more alarming problem namely

The increase in lockdowns

The increase in violent or problematic incidents is also forcing many Queensland prisons into frequent lockdowns. This again causes delays on scheduled appointments which, in turn, has a knock-on effect.

So, why are lockdowns increasing?

There are a number of speculative reasons as to why prison lockdowns are on the increase. These include:

  • An increase in the number of dangerous people incarcerated
  • A decrease in prison officer numbers
  • Poor management of correctional facilities
  • Lack of government funding

Factual evidence supports the first of these reasons in that from January to August of last year (2019) there were 308 assaults on prison officers by prisoners. This is a staggering 64% increase on the 187 assaults which occurred during the year before.

In addition, as the number of dangerous prisoners increases, this has led to an influx of inexperienced recruits who are struggling to contain the problem. This culminated in an event in October of 2019 when two prison officers were brutally attacked. Inevitably, a lockdown ensued as prison officers walked out.

Similar incidents have also occurred throughout Queensland and in May 2019, six inmates of the Capricornia Correctional Centre were taken to hospital – one of them airlifted – after a suspected mass drug overdose. This again led to yet another prison lockdown.

Problematic repercussions

Because of restricted visiting rights and an increase in prison lockdowns, constant delays at prisons are giving lawyers no alternative but to postpone sentencing at the courts which is frustrating for magistrates, lawyers, corrections officers and the community as a whole.

To make matters worse… men are getting a raw deal

Due to the imposed visiting restrictions, lawyers are having to compete with a whole host of other professional bodies and family members who also need to gain access to see the prisoner.

As a result, and in some instances, lawyers are struggling to even gain access one day a week with their male clients.  And when they do, just 5 or 6 rooms are available for client conferencing so frequently, these rooms are already occupied.

Alternatively, in women’s prisons, visiting rights are far more relaxed and as a result, it’s considerably easier for lawyers to gain access to female clients.

Is it right that women prisoners have greater access to their lawyers than men do? Surely it should be fair and equal.

So where are we now?

Due to public and civil pressure, in recent weeks the QCS have relented and as the situation stands, lawyers can now gain access 3 days a week spread between the men’s and women’s centres, with the consideration of opening this up to 5 days. However, as one of our solicitors, Lea Bethune found, it’s not cut and dried. She had this to say…

The public’s perception of criminals is that they are all bad, but sometimes people can be in prison simply for committing too many traffic offences – which is why it’s important that we have timely access to gain their release.

“Unfortunately as many Queensland prisons continue to go into frequent lockdown even with the increased visiting rights, delays still have a huge impact on being able to carry out our job roles effectively and until the problem is looked at from the point of view of resources, then the QCS is really only paying lip service to the problem.

However, clients can rest assured that we’re doing our utmost to expedite cases quickly by utilising services such as video conferencing and in the meantime, we’ll continue to push for better visitation rights.”