Month: July 2016

Overcoming Economic Abuse

Did you know that economic abuse is a form of family violence?

Section 5(1)(a)(iii) of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) (“the Act”) states that family violence is behaviour by a person towards a family member of that person if that behaviour is economically abusive.

Section 6 of the Act defines economic abuse as “behaviour by a person (the first person) that is coercive, deceptive or unreasonably controls another person (the second person) without the second person’s consent in a way that denies the second person the economic or financial autonomy the second person would have had but for that behaviour OR by withholding or threatening to withhold the financial support necessary for meeting the reasonable living expenses of the second person or the second person’s child, if the second person is entirely or predominantly dependent on the first person for financial support to meet those living expenses.

Some examples that the Act provided are:

  • Coercing a person to relinquish control over assets and income;
  • Removing or keeping a family member’s property without permission, or threatening to do so;
  • Disposing of property owned by a person, or owned jointly with a person, against the person’s wishes and without lawful excuse;
  • Without lawful excuse, preventing a person from having access to joint financial assets for the purposes of meeting normal household expenses;
  • Preventing a person from seeking or keeping employment;
  • Coercing a person to claim social security payments;
  • Coercing a person to sign a power of attorney that would enable the person’s finances to be managed by another person;
  • Coercing a person to sign a contract for the purchase of goods or services;
  • Coercing a person to sign a contract for the provision of finance, a loan or credit;
  • Coercing a person to sign a contract of guarantee;
  • Coercing a person to sign any legal document for the establishment or operation of a business.

 

In real life….

We have acted for a number of clients whose spouse/partner was the sole income-earner of the household and the parties relied on the one salary deposited into a joint account that both parties had access to. Just prior to separation, their spouse/partner transferred all/most of the money from the joint account and deposited it into an account in their own name.

Consequentially, the unsuspecting spouse/partner was left with no money/very little money and was in a financially desperate situation as they were dependent on their spouse/partner for money. The perpetrating spouse/partner then had financial control and therefore leverage over the other spouse/partner to force them to agree to an unjust and inequitable settlement.

This is one regular consequence

In these situations, at least 7 days may have passed from the time a person makes an urgent spousal maintenance application to the Family Court/Federal Circuit Court to the time the matter is listed for hearing date before a Judge. Imagine if this happens to you. What would you do in the meantime if you need money? Especially if you have children to feed?

 

How to reduce the chance of this happening to you

Prevention is better than cure. No one enters into a relationship expecting to separate. BUT you should never say never.

We recommend that every person in a relationship sets up their own personal bank account (that only you are able to access) as a safeguard sooner rather than later in case you need the money for a rainy day – just like insurance but better.

You may or may not choose to tell your spouse/partner about the account. We recommend that you deposit small amounts of money into that account as often as you can. This way, IF you ever separate, you’d have money saved to live on (and take care of your children) whilst you negotiate a property settlement with your spouse/partner.

 

What to do if you, or someone you know, is a victim

If you are the victim of economic abuse or know someone who is in that situation, please contact us to seek legal advice

You’ll need to have records showing what money has been taken by your spouse/partner to prove your case. Then we’ll discuss taking the matter to a Magistrate/Judge.

A common belief is that if you have no money you are unable to obtain legal advice/take legal action against your spouse/partner. That is not true.

We will be blogging about litigation funding and Barro Orders soon – so watch this space to learn more.

This article provides information that is general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice.

Developing your suburban block

Putting two dwellings on one suburban block needs an agreement between the owner, the developer and/or the builder which sets out each person’s contribution, role and expected outcome.   Sometimes, but not always, the developer is the builder.

Remember the developer and/or builder wants to make a profit and you, the owner, want a new house. Therefore, it’s important to remember that throughout the entire build, you’ll want to protect the standard of the construction you get and still leave enough profit in it for the developer.

The joint venture agreement should reference both a fully detailed building contract (what kind of taps do you want?) and a separate contract for the sale of land.

 

Remember, land is cheapest when it is vacant.

The usual agreement is for the developer/builder to pay all costs when the owner provides the land for the development. Make sure the developer pays the cost of the sub-division, planning and building permits and costs of construction. Once you start to build, costs and potential disputes may escalate. You and your builder have certain rights when it comes to your project.

Your contract should help you avoid a number of hazards you may never have considered. It’s important that detailed specifications are included as part of the building contract. These may include:

  • Who’s going to pay your rent and storage costs if the builder goes belly-up during the development and can’t finish the build?
  • What carpets and bench tops do you want in your new house?

If you are given documents for this type of development, we can help you make sure you are protected.

We understand domestic building contracts and have been helping developers since 1979 – we can help you too! Speak with us today.

 

This article provides information that is general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice.

Remain Important in your children’s lives

After 30 years of experience in family law disputes, we know the types of Court Orders required between separated parents that will help ensure that the children maintain a relationship with both parents.

Remember, you want to be there when your children get married and have their own children. You’ll also want to celebrate ongoing milestones, including, birthdays, your birthday, Fathers’ Day/Mothers’ Day, Christmas etc.

 

Look into the future – 10, 20, 30 years or more. You will want to be with your family and you will want them to be with you.

 

Don’t lose sight of the long term effects

When your child becomes an adult, you’d want him/her to choose to know you and to spend time with you.

Think carefully, get advice about the types of arrangements you want for your children if you separate.

To start, speak with us and we’ll provide examples of Court Orders that work.

 

This article provides information that is general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice.