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NOTICE ALERT IN LIGHT OF COVID-19

WHAT WE PROPOSE AND HOW WE CAN ASSIST

At Watson & Watson our clients come first. Please be assured of our continued dedicated services to all current and new clients.

As we have done in the past, we will continue to offer alternative conferencing methods ie video conferencing, skype or telephone conferences. Reviewing of all documentation provided to us prior to any initial conference will be all inclusive of our set fee. Do not hesitate to contact Shereen Da Gloria on (02) 9221 6011 should you have any concerns.

Expert Evidence in Family Law – Property Cases

11/05/2020

The Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia decide cases based on evidence. 

In all property matters a client will seek the advice of a Lawyer in relation to what they may expect to receive in a property/financial settlement.  Being able to provide that advice requires a precise knowledge of the value of assets and liabilities available for division between the parties.  If a dispute arises in relation to the extent or value of an asset or there is a dispute in relation to the proportional division, there will need to be proper evidence before the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court in relation to the value of each asset or liability.

In property related matters there are many different types of assets including:

  1. Real Estate
  2. Business
  3. Private companies
  4. Trusts
  5. Superannuation entitlements or pensions.
  6. Employment related Entitlements
  7. Royalties
  8. Particulars personal assets such as motor vehicles, boats, planes, artwork, furniture, antiques, collections

If there is no proper evidence of the assets and valuations of the assets in the appropriate form to support your case, your case may fail. 

The opinion of the parties themselves or someone not properly qualified or not independent will be of no value to you or the Court. 

Such evidence must be provided by an appropriate Expert. The Court requires such Expert evidence.  The Court has rules that regulate the appointment of Experts or Valuers and these are the rules relating to single Experts.  Part 15.5 of the Family Court Rules 2004 regulates the appointment of single Experts.  Experts with appropriate skill may be required to value different types of assets.

Your lawyer needs to analyse and understand your case and assemble the proper evidence to achieve a successful outcome.  Cases that need proper Expert evidence will fail without that evidence.  Most cases will require Expert evidence if there are disputes in relation to the value of assets and liabilities.

The rules provide that the parties must prepare a single written request for preparation of the report.  The written request must state that the report may be used in the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court.

The rules require a joint request of the appointed Valuer to consider the issues and provide an Expert opinion as to value and the basis of the Expert coming to his or her conclusion.  The request needs to set out the issues that the Expert is instructed to provide advice on.  The Expert must be provided with proper and appropriate supporting documentation to be in a position to proceed with the valuation. 

The instructions are critical to the appropriate evidence being provided.  At Watson & Watson we brief Experts in many different areas of law and often in family law matters where the asset pool is of significant value or where there are individual items of value and merit comprising the asset pool.

We have always engaged Experts with experience and insight who are regularly retained to provide Expert evidence for family law cases.

Expert Evidence in Family Law – Parenting

Expert evidence has a central role in parenting cases.  The Court may require Expert evidence in relation to the children.  That Expert evidence can come from Family Consultants who are organised through the Court’s Child Dispute Services.  The Family Consultants can be employees of the Court or private practitioners who have been appointed under the Family Law Regulations.  The Family Consultants can be Registered Psychologists or Social Workers with a minimum of 5 years experience working with children and families. 

The Family Consultants conduct comprehensive assessments and prepare Family Reports which provide the Court with Expert evidence about the children and the family.  The Court may need Expert evidence from other Experts in certain cases such as:

  • Psychologists;
  • Social Workers;
  • Child Psychiatrist; and
  • Medical Specialists.

If you are involved or likely to be involved in family law proceedings pertaining to financial/property settlement with a significant asset pool or involving a specific type of assets or child contact/custody proceedings and have any concerns regarding your matter, please contact Richard Watson Senior Family Law Solicitor or Shereen Da Gloria his Personal Assistant to discuss your matter and seek appropriate advice in a timely manner.

This is only a preliminary view and is not to be taken as legal advice without first contacting Watson & Watson Solicitors on 9221 6011.

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