Sapphire Legal

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I have come to realise that one of the greatest difficulties with legal services is affordability, accessibility and reliability. I became a member of FLAST for the simple reason of trying to improve these three factors.   I work predominantly in the areas of Family Law, Conveyancing and Wills & Estates and came to this profession later in life after working for approximately 16 years in the medical industry.  I offer a range of legal services and particularly enjoy helping people who are focused on actually trying to resolve conflict, not add to it.  Having the right mindset and approach to conflict from the very beginning is extremely important as it can avoid protracted litigation and irreparable damage to relationships. 

Admitted as a solicitor in February 2017, I began my work as an employed solicitor for McQiu Lawyers.  In 2021 I decided to open my own sole practice so that I could continue to offer affordable legal services.  Sapphire Legal is a boutique law firm that offers both online and personal legal services.  My focus will always be on trying to help people get on with their lives as quickly as possible by providing them with the services and knowledge they need to try and do exactly that. 

 

 

 

 

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Fixed fee divorce applicationeiugqtxeqnkwatjj4esynfez6ahwm2d6.jpg

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This package includes our Consent Orders - Essentials + Super package plus simple parenting orders (this includes orders about day to day care arrangements and arrangements for special days such as Christmas and school holidays). ixtpm5x4mh4wfuvxyk9jwwtehk3fwtf8.png

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This package includes our Consent Orders - Essentials package plus orders to divide your superannuation (excluding Self-Managed Super Funds) plus all correspondence to the super funds required for your super splitting agreement.

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Drafting of orders for the sale or transfer of up to two (2) properties between separating parties plus simple property orders relating to items of personalty, motor vehicles and other items of limited monetary value.

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a2ryirjsn6iwjur5wirweb85hiy6qjvf.jpgA Simple Will is an easy, short form Will that is ideal for those who have a small estate and where there is negligible risk of any beneficiary being the subject of any bankruptcy or family law claims.  If your testamentary wishes are uncomplicated and you prefer a 'plain English' version of your Will, a Simple Will can be used. 

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Lancefield & Lancefield (No 2) [2020] FamCAC 312 (22 December 2020).  This case concerned an appeal by the father after the court at first instance made orders for the children to live with the mother.  Prior to this, the father had been the primary carer of the parties 2 children since separation in 2017.  At the time of trial, the children were aged 11 and 9. At first instance, the Court found that the father was coercive and controlling which justified a change in residence. The Full Court (Ainslie-Wallace, Ryan & Aldridge JJ) upheld the father’s appeal in part and remitted the matter to be reheard by a different judge.

The facts of this matter revolve around an incident that occurred on 19 February 2018 when the family iPad was activated and via family sharing, the father was able to access the mother’s internet search history which included “how to tie a hangman’s noose”; “how to disappear without a trace”; “how to completely change your appearance”; and “how to disappear from your husband” ([31]). Upon seeing the mother’s search history, the father contacted the mother’s brother on the same day to raise his concerns and a welfare check by police took place.

The mother had been previously hospitalised in respect of her mental health issues but had “capacity to provide for the children’s physical, educational and general emotional needs”([5]).  In April 2018, the parties entered into a parenting plan which provided for the children to live with the father and spend time with the mother, one weekend per month under supervision. The parties were unable to reach agreement about the children’s long-term arrangements and in June 2018 the mother initiated proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court. Interim orders were made by consent providing that the children live with the father, the parents have equal shared parental responsibility and during school term the children would spend 2 weekends with their mother unsupervised.  Time was also made for the children to stay with their mother during the school holiday periods.

The family iPad was linked to the mother’s iTunes account which she failed to disconnect. “Whatever might have been the situation before separation, the issue in the case was whether, post-separation, the father used the iPad to stalk and monitor the mother. And, if he did, what this said about his attitude towards the mother and his behaviour as a role model to the children” ([52]).

On the facts, the Full Court found that it was not open to the primary judge to conclude that the father had stalked the mother.  “The primary judge should have found that the father retained copies of the material that popped up on 19 February 2018 and that after the mother changed her iTunes account, password and email address in February 2018, there was no evidence that any new information of the mother’s appeared on the iPad.”([65]).

([65]) the effect of the mistaken findings as to Ms H’s evidence is that not only was the primary judge satisfied that the father engaged in coercive and controlling behaviour but his Honour also recognised a pattern of behaviour in the father accessing the mother’s private emails which enabled a finding that the father accessed the mother’s emails and electronic searches during their relationship without permission ([66]).

During interviews, the eldest child stated that he wanted to stay living with his father.  The family report writer “scored both parents equally” however statements from the youngest child to the family report writer “I miss mum” and “we [rarely] see mum” left the family consultant with the ‘impression’ that the child preferred to live with his mother ([82]).

Although the Full Court felt it was open to the primary judge to accept the Family Consultant’s opinion, the Full Court held that after the primary judge decided that the father engaged in coercive and controlling behaviour (also that the father had not promoted the children’s relationship with their mother) he failed to properly consider the weight to be given to the Family Consultants “impression” of the younger child’s views and to treat both children’s views equally

 

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A parenting order is a set of orders made by a court under Part VII of the Family Law Act 1975 (FLA) about parenting arrangements for a child. When there is an agreement between the parties, usually the mother and the father, a court can make a parenting order based on that agreement. This is known as a consent order. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the court can make a parenting order following a court hearing or trial.

A parenting order can cover a couple of topics or an extensive list - there is no requirement to deal with any particular matters. A parenting order may deal with the following:

  • who the child will live with;
  • how much time the child will spend with each parent;
  • the allocation of parental responsibility;
  • how the child will communicate with a parent they do not live with or other people; and
  • any other aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child.

This service is designed to save time and stress by allowing you to complete important details online.  Upon notification of your purchase, I will send you a link to our intake form.  All you will need to do is fill in the details as prompted.  Once completed, I will review your document and contact you to ensure that it is properly completed and provide any guidance or recommendations. 

 

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97er5fresv4tuywxg5vyywkkefav7epk.jpgThis document creates a Binding Financial Agreement (aka Pre-nup) for couples contemplating entering marriage. It is used to quarantine all or some of the property or financial resources of either or both of the parties to the marriage. This agreement only deals with the property and liabilities of the parties and not with spousal maintenance or child support.

** Please note that this agreement cannot be entered into if, at the time of making the agreement either party is already a party to any other financial agreement.

***To be binding, both parties must have independent legal advice from their own respective legal practitioner before signing the Agreement.

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Canfeld & Falkins [2020] FCCA 2570 (9 September 2020)

This is a parenting case where the primary issue at interim hearing was the choice of supervisor for the mother's time with the children in circumstances where the continued cost of professional supervision was not sustainable. 

Facts:

The three children of the relationship (aged 16, 11 and 8) live with their father and spend time with their mother on a supervised basis.  The arrangement however was not working due to, inter alia, a lack of commitment by the parents and the cost of the supervision.  The mother sought for her time with the children to be supervised by "Mr L" instead, beginning with Sundays from 9am to 5pm and then progressing to a fortnightly basis from 9am Saturday to 5pm Sunday.  The independent children's lawyer (ICL) supported this position.

The father proposed that the mother be granted no time but if time was to be given, then it is to be supervised by way of a professional supervisor. 

Being an interim application, the Court was required to review authorities on the assessment of risk to children when dealing with interim matters. Unlike final hearings where the evidence can be tested, this is not possible when dealing with interim applications due to less time available.  The Court referred to some of the leading authorities about decision making in interim cases. 

Issue's:

  • Can the mother's time be supervised by a non-professional person when the continued cost of professional supervision is not maintainable?
  • What is the appropriate way to deal with risk assessment at an interim hearing?

Law:

Findings:

The Court made orders for the mother to spend time with the children to be supervised by Mr L.  In coming to this decision, Judge Altobelli included a number of paragraphs from his own decision in a matter called Insley & Insley [2018] FCCA 438, where he had previously discussed some of the authorities about decision making in interim cases:

In Goode & Goode [2006], the Full Court warned against making findings of fact where findings are not possible.  The Court did not rule out making findings of fact and, it must be remembered that findings can be made on the basis of uncontested matters or admissions.  To the extent, moreover, that findings may be differentiated from inferences, inferences may certainly be drawn from all of the material available before the Court.  [64]... [T]here have been later Full Court decisions that suggest in that, particularly in cases where there are allegations of family violence, a more nuanced approach is warranted.  For example, the Full Court in SS & AH [2010] FamCA 13... noted that sometimes judges will have little alternative but to weigh the probabilities of competing claims and the likely impact on children in the event that a controversial assertion is acted upon or rejected.  The Full Court stated that it is not always feasible when dealing with the immediate welfare of children simply to ignore an assertion because its accuracy has been put in issue.  Nonetheless, the Full Court warned, findings must be couched with circumspection.

[65] The Full Court in Marvel & Marvel (No.2), in referring to its earlier decision in SS&AH stated at [120] that decision-making in interim proceedings is difficult, and thus a conservative approach is warranted, or one which is likely to avoid harm to a child. [66] In Reece & Reece, the Full Court warned at [76] about the consequences of failing to have regard to expert evidence simply because it was untested in cross-examination...

[67] In Deiter & Deiter, the Full Court suggested that s60K (now s67ZBB) of the Act signalled a clear policy imperative of ensuring that allegations of family violence are treated seriously and dealt with expeditiously.  In an ideal world, these allegations could be dealt with at a discreet issues hearing, or an expedited final hearing.  In reality, in a registry of this court where almost all of the cases involve allegations of family violence, neglect, abuse, drugs or alcohol and mental health, neither a discreet issues hearing, nor expedition is possible.  

[70] The Full Court in Enmore & Smoothe explained that a finding of risk of abuse may be reached on the basis of evidence which falls short of that required for a finding that abuse has occurred.  However, that is not to suggest that evidence aimed at establishing a possible risk of abuse should not be subject to careful scrutiny, since serious consequences can also flow from a finding that a child is at risk of abuse.  [71] In 2015, the Full Court in Eaby & Speelman [2015] FamCAFC 104 at [18] expressly stated that the comments of the Full Court at [68] in Goode did not mean that merely because the facts are in dispute the evidence on the topic must be disregarded and the case determined solely by reference to the agreed facts...

After analysis of the relevant authorities His Honour proceeded on the basis by ascertaining whether the risk of harm to the children could be addressed by supervision by Mr L or only by a professional supervised contact service.  With respect to the terms of supervised time, it was more a practical question.  The Court accepted the mother's case that continuing to pay for private professional supervision was not feasible.  Although it appreciated that private non-profession supervision as that to be offered by Mr L would mean that there would be no written report, the Court felt nonetheless that appropriate supervision could be carried out by Mr L.  

This case demonstrates that although the Court cannot test the evidence at an interim hearing stage, it does not automatically mean that it cannot make a finding of fact.  It will however ultimately side on caution especially where there are competing versions that go to the question of risk to children.  The Court will then assess whether the risk of harm can be addressed by some other means.  In this case the Court deemed that the risk of harm could be addressed via the supervision by Mr L and it was not confined to making orders for supervision only by a professional supervisor. 

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If you are a self-represented litigant, this service is designed to provide you with the guidance you need to draft your own written evidence.  Even if you feel that you have written an effective affidavit, it is always worth having it looked at by a solicitor before it is filed.  A solicitor can draw to your attention any possible defects with respect to compliance with the rules of evidence and provide useful feedback on the formatting and content of the document.  Whether you need help with the drafting itself or just settling the document,  this service is designed to work around your personal needs.

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