When Australian courts recognise polygamous marriages

When Australian courts recognise polygamous marriages

While the political controversy around gay marriage means the vast majority of Australians are aware of the law for same-sex couples, very few people know what happens when the courts consider cases of polygamy.

Polygamy means a marriage where there is more than two people – either a man with multiple wives, or a woman with more than one husband.

Long before Australia’s political debate was dominated by the question of whether or not we should legalise gay marriage, Section 6 of the Family Law Act had instructed the country’s courts to recognise polygamous marriages.

That said the legislation does not recognise all polygamous marriages and polygamous marriages entered into on Australian soil are not legally valid.

And it is important to note that getting married to two people, in Australia, is still an offence under the Marriage Act.

However, when a man has taken more than one wife, or a woman has more than one husband, in a foreign country, the courts will, in some cases, recognise those marriages.

For example, in 2014, the Full Family Court of Australia heard a case where a couple fought over whether or not a polygamous marriage which had been sanctioned by the Iranian government, was valid under Australian law.

The question was complicated by the fact the Howard Government had, in 2004, inserted a new definition of marriage into the Marriage Act.

That new definition, which was aimed at preventing same-sex marriage, said marriage was the: “union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others”.

Today, that definition has now been and instead of mentioning gender it now just talks about a union between two people – as a result of Australia voting “Yes” to same-sex marriage in the November 2017 referendum.

However it was the phrase: “to the exclusion of all others” which raised questions about how the Family Law Act could recognise polygamous marriages.

In the case in question it was held that a polygamous marriage, entered into in a foreign country, was still valid despite the Howard Government’s changes.

 

 

Take the financial stress out of your relationship breakdown and see the costs up-front

Take the financial stress out of your relationship breakdown and see the costs up-front

Here at Strategic Lawyers we always put the client first, that’s why we are the only firm in Queensland that’s completely up-front with our prices.

When we opened seven years ago we were the first firm in North Queensland to bring in something called fixed pricing.

Fixed-pricing means before we start working on your matter we send you a detailed quote saying exactly what we will do and exactly how much we will charge.

We have been doing this for the past seven-years and have had countless clients tell us the system removed stress and delivered better value.

Get in touch with one of our solicitors now

This week we became the first law firm in Queensland to start displaying our prices on our website.

“We believe we’ve made a difference to the industry with fixed-pricing – because it let people take their quote to other firms and ensure we weren’t over-pricing,” Strategic Lawyers’s managing-partner Justin Ireland said.

“However, you still had to come in and detail your matter to get a quote and then go through the same process with the next firm, so, it was a time-consuming exercise and not that many people were doing it.”

This system was still streets ahead of the old model where no-one in town would quote on how much work would cost until after you’d racked up a bill.

Get in touch with one of our solicitors now

“Having the prices on the website means this can all be done a lot more quickly and we’re expecting many firms around town will now follow suit,” Mr Ireland said.

“It might not be a win for lawyers’ pockets, but it is a win for clients and this is not necessarily about us being the cheapest but I do believe we will be the best value.”

Mr Ireland added that in some matters there was simply too much at stake and clients wanted our team of experienced lawyers working on their matter around the clock.

“In rare cases like this we still offer time-based billing, where our solicitors charge for each hour they spend on your matter, as we find this delivers better value to the client than constantly having to send new quotes for new work,” he said.

Below are our prices for family law related matters – if you get quoted a better price elsewhere in Townsville bring it in and we will try to beat it.

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The total cost of sorting out your relationship breakdown is $8,295 however if you agree to finalise your whole divorce with us we will reduce that by 10% to $7,465.50.

People looking to separate require two legal processes, once you separate you need to work out what you are going to do about your assets and how to divide time and responsibility in relation to the kids.

These are costs of each step in that process:

Initial Meeting – $330

Come in meet with our solicitor and get expert advice on all the steps in the process and what you need to do to move on with your life.

Negotiations – $990

This is the first thing you need to do after you separate. This step involves negotiating a settlement and communicating with your partner, or their lawyers to try and reach an agreement.

Our price is only for one round of negotiations and this cost increases to $1,485 if we are negotiating both children’s and property matters. The cost will also be adjusted for highly urgent situations.

Consent Orders – $4,950

This step involves us drafting the agreement between you and your partner. It is binding and lets you move on with your life.

Consent Orders Filing Fee – $165

The Australian courts charge $160 for you to file your consent orders with them, to make them legally binding.

Divorce application – $990

Not everyone is married but if you are you must wait one full year after you separate before you can file for divorce.

Filing fee for divorce order – $900

The Australian courts charge $900 for you to file your divorce order with them, to make it legally binding.

*Disclaimer: Legal matters are complex and fees may change in accordance with those complexities. Strategic Lawyers will always inform you of any change in price before fees and charges are incurred.

If your legal matter needs to go to mediation or to court we can meet with you to provide a quote.

And to get a feel for what you’ll need to do read: The 11 things you’ll need to know before you get a divorce on our blog

The 11 things you should know before getting a divorce

The 11 things you should know before getting a divorce

DIVORCE is a traumatic time for anyone but getting help and taking clear action will save you time, money and let you get on with your life more quickly.

The first thing you need to sort out are your finances and if there are children involved you need to get a parenting agreement.

A key family lawyer at Strategic Lawyers, Robert Ballais, explained the whole process of getting a divorce is best thought of as having two separate parts and three parts if you have children.

“Under Australian law couples actually have to be separated for one full year before they can get a divorce,” Mr Ballais said.

“However, before you get a formal divorce you can work out how you want to divide up all of your assets by getting a property settlement and work out what’s best for the kids through a parenting order.”

In Australia the divorce rate is falling however there are still lengthy waits to access the courts.

It’s also important to note that while de facto couples – people in a relationship who have been living together for two years or more – don’t need to get a divorce, there may still be a need to get a property settlement and a parenting order.

And with the majority of divorces being agreed to by both sides of the marriage Mr Ballais said couples that are able to reach an agreement without a lengthy dispute get quicker, less expensive outcomes.

“Obviously that’s not always possible but our first step is always to try and minimise the pain by sorting everything out and reaching consensus,” he said.

Below he runs through what you’ll need to have at hand to get through each part of the process and gives you the inside running on how you can do the prep-work to save your lawyer’s time and to save your money.

GETTING A PROPERTY SETTLEMENT

1. Work out what you own and what you owe
The best thing people can do before they come in to see a family lawyer is create a document with all the assets and liabilities they have.

This should include things like the mortgage, if you have one and any other loans and how much has been paid and how much is owing.

It should also include details of any other personal loans or assets and any valuations people have for those and one final thing a lot of people forget is to bring details of their superannuation.

2. Know your business
The second thing people will need to bring along if they want to reach a property settlement are any details of any businesses they own.

This really could include any financial document to do with that business but usually things like a valuation would be the most useful.

3. Did you already have an agreement?
In a lot of cases couples have already agreed on how they’re going to split their assets but as Mr Ballais explained this often doesn’t take the form people might expect.

For example, it might be something as simple as a text message or an email from years ago where these things were discussed.

So, having any details of any discussions is a great place to start – regardless of whether the ownership of any of the assets are in dispute.

GETTING A PARENTING ORDER

In the same way people can divide their assets as soon as they separate they are also able to make legal arrangements for the custody of their children.
Below Mr Ballais goes through what you will need to bring along to make sure you have everything you need on hand.

4. Have you already agreed on this?
If you’ve already worked out who is going to take care of the kids and on which days they will have them, then bringing along a copy of that agreement saves a lot of time.

This might have been agreed at an earlier point in time or after you decided to separate.

5. Check your roster
This is especially important for people who do fly in, fly out work – or work shifts.

Sometimes people will go to put an agreement in place only to realise their work arrangements make it impossible, so bringing along your roster from the outset is the best way to avoid any issues.

6. Write out what you want
Before you see a lawyer it’s worth thinking about the custody arrangement you want and writing it down.

If you are able to agree on this it won’t just save your lawyer time, it will save you money as the process for reaching a mutual agreement on custody is a lot less costly than if the matter goes to court because there’s a dispute.

GETTING A DIVORCE

So, you’ve sorted out your property and worked out a parenting order. Now you are ready to finalise your divorce.

Below Mr Ballais explains the legal hoops and hurdles the law puts up for people looking to officially end their marriage.

7. Get counselling & make sure you’ve been separated for 12 months

If there is a chance of reconciliation, the first thing every couple should do is try to work out their problems.

This isn’t just a nicety the Family Law Act actually requires couples who have been together for less than two years to get marriage counselling.

Also under the Family Law Act people need to be separated for 12 months before they can start a divorce application.

Obviously, for people in abusive and extreme circumstances it wouldn’t be necessary or appropriate to force them into counselling and they can apply to the court to avoid the process however, they still need to have been separated for 12 months.

8. Find your marriage certificate
This is one of the first things any family lawyer will ask for at the first meeting

So, having it handy means we can get started straight away instead of having to wait on paperwork.

9. Sit down and write out all your personal details
For the divorce application itself you’ll need the addresses of both parties involved – or the address of their lawyer.

You’ll also need your places and dates of birth and your occupation.

Finally, if you moved to Australia from overseas you will need to state the date on which you moved into the country.

10. Write down all your children’s details
If there are kids involved then a lot of information is required before a divorce application can be finalised.

Mr Ballais explained the most essential items included any child support paid to date, any custody arrangements presently in place and any proposed changes to those custody arrangements.

It’s also useful to have a record of any of the children’s health issues and what schools they currently attend.

11. Find out how much it will cost
Strategic Lawyers was the first firm in North Queensland to offer something called fixed-pricing.

This means we will, wherever possible, tell you how much it will cost to work on your matter and give you a binding quote before we start.

A lot of firms will charge by the hour – creating an incentive for lawyers to waste time and charge you for it.

Here at Strategic we do things differently; we do everything we can to remove the stress created by the uncertainty of not knowing how much your divorce will cost.