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E26: Do-it-yourself Divorce

On the Show Today You’ll Learn

This month Ben and Heather step you through how to manage your own divorce and identify when you may need to seek additional legal advice.

The questions and topics covered included:

  1. What is divorce (legally speaking)?
  2. Who is eligible to divorce in Australia?
  3. Choose a joint or sole application?
  4. When do separation legally start?
  5. Counselling requirements if married less than 2 years.
  6. What does the Court look for when approving your divorce?
  7. What if you want a divorce but can’t find you ex?
  8. How best to serve divorce papers on your ex.
  9. Signing and finalising divorce paperwork.
  10. What to expect in Court?
  11. How soon after divorce can you remarry?
  12. Does divorce affect parenting or property arrangements?
  13. When is DIY divorce a bad idea?
  14. Is it a good idea to DIY property and parenting arrangements?

Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Commonwealth Courts Portal (aka ComCourts) – is the website for online filing for matters in the Family Court, the Federal Court, the Federal Circuit Court.  This is where you will need file for divorce and will be able to track the process.

How do I apply for a Divorce? – this is a section of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia website and walks you through the process of filing for divorce.

DIY Divorce Guide – this is our detailed guide that walks you through the process of finalising your divorce in 7 steps.  It contains links to many other resources you may find valuable.

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Full Episode Transcript

Welcome! Do it yourself Divorce

Benjamin Bryant: Welcome to The Family Matters Show podcast, episode number 26. Which just goes to show we’ve been doing this for a while. I’m your host, Benjamin Bryant from Bryant McKinnon Lawyers and I’m here again with my partner in crime, Heather McKinnon. Can you believe we are already up to the twenty sixth show, Heather?

Heather McKinnon: It’s amazing Ben. It’s one of those things where I think, “Oh, we just started doing this” and then you look back at how many shows we’ve recorded. It’s a huge resource library now. I know every day I say to clients, “Look, just click on the website, go to the podcasts, and you’ll find things that will just give you a much better depth of knowledge on the topics that are relevant.”  It’s so good.

Benjamin Bryant: And we go along recording a new episode every month and somehow over time, it just becomes a full resource library for us. It’s so exciting. So this month we’ll be adding to that library with a show all about do-it-yourself divorce. Now, I think some people might be suspicious about the idea of a family law firm spruiking DIY divorce. But contrary to popular opinion, not all lawyers are here to charge like a wounded bull. In fact, quite the opposite. We often help clients do what they can on their own to keep the costs down. Don’t we Heather?

Heather McKinnon: Yeah, we do. And on that initial interview, one of the things that we’re assessing is the client’s capabilities. So that’s related to their level of education, their level of distress. And often we can empower people to go and do tasks themselves so they’re not paying for things that they don’t have to pay for and they can easily achieve without going through formal legal channels.

Benjamin Bryant: That’s right: empowerment and responsibility. Well before we get into the details of do-it-yourself divorce, I do want to remind everyone that they can send us questions in confidence at any time to familymatters@bryantmckinnon.com.au or message us on Facebook. And please don’t forget to share this show with friends and family who might be starting out on the path of separation. There will be plenty of things in our growing library of podcasts to help. OK, let’s get started on do-it-yourself divorce. Are you ready, Heather?

Heather McKinnon: Oh… As ready as I’ll ever be on a Monday morning.

What is divorce (legally speaking)?

Benjamin Bryant:  First of all Heather, let’s jump in and define what we’re talking about when we’re talking about divorce. Because I know a lot of people group divorce with property settlement and parenting arrangements and things like that. But in Australia, it’s something different. What are we talking about with divorce Heather?

Heather McKinnon: Well, divorce is the legal process that ends the marriage. So in Australia, when you get married, you either turn up to a church or a civil ceremony, and there’s a formal recognition of how you get married. Divorce is the formal process of how you end it. So it only ends the marriage, it doesn’t touch those other things: property settlement, arrangements for children, child support. It’s simply the final way that the government recognises that the marriage is over.

Benjamin Bryant: And can I ask Heather, in your experience, where does the confusion come from?

Heather McKinnon: Well, I think we are used to saying that divorce is the catch-all. It’s what we say in the community when a marriage ends. So people, when they use the word divorce in normal conversation, are talking about everything that needs to be done to separate a couple when their relationship finishes. Whereas today we’re just talking about that narrow process of the actual divorce, which is often the last part of the journey for people who have organised the arrangements for finance and children.

Benjamin Bryant: And I’m sure American TV does not help. And just for the purpose of our listeners, this episode will be squarely talking about divorce. We have, of course, done 25 other episodes on parenting and property matters, so make sure you check out those episodes if you’re thinking about do-it-yourself property settlement or do-it-yourself parenting arrangements. But Heather I will bookend this podcast today with a couple of questions on those things. But just a reminder to our listeners: today is squarely on do-it-yourself divorce.

Who is eligible for divorce in Australia?

Benjamin Bryant: So Heather, who is eligible for a divorce in Australia.

Heather McKinnon: That’s a good question and sometimes it’s not that easy. The first thing you’ve got to establish if you want to get a divorce in Australia is that you are married.  Now, you don’t have to have been married in Australia. You can be married in any jurisdiction around the world. And the test that we apply is, was the marriage recognised by the government of the country that you got married in. And even that gets hairy. I mean, there are lots of people in Australia who come from jurisdictions where they don’t have a well-established bureaucracy. And so the only way of establishing that you are married is to have eye witness accounts, for example, that you turned up to the local church in El Salvador, and there was a minister there in 1983 and you think you’re married. So it’s not as easy as it would seem. But most people who we see who want a divorce can give you a marriage certificate, which is some sort of official document.

Benjamin Bryant:  So I’ve had client that thought they were married but they actually weren’t.  It was a wiccan ceremony, jumping over broomsticks or something. And I’m like – was it registered? Did you get a marriage certificate?  This didn’t even cross their mind. In their mind, for the last 15 years or so, they just assumed that they were married. But of course, it doesn’t really matter until you get divorced.

Heather McKinnon: And look, the number of those package (before Covid) uh, escape to Fiji or escape to an island with your family and friends and get married,

Benjamin Bryant:  Drink out of the kava bowl

Heather McKinnon: Yep – but there was never any recognition by the Fijian government. So, yeah it seems like an easy question, but it is one of the first hurdles often when people are getting divorced is: were they actually married?

Benjamin Bryant:  What is the second element of divorce?

Heather McKinnon: Well you have to have lived in Australia for 12 months, immediately prior to the separation. So that’s another interesting element in Australia of jurisdiction, because we have a lot of couples who have residency in numbers of countries. Like you and I, even in our practice, we’ll see executives that have lived in various cities around the world and they come to us. But it’s not clear whether they’ve lived permanently in Australia for the year before, because they’ve been in and out of the country on business.  I think you and I are working on a tricky one at the moment, where they had spent significant time in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. And the lawyers in the three countries have been working for a year to separate their finances because they’ve got assets in every jurisdiction. But for the divorce in the main, as long as you’ve resided here, you’re pretty right to go. If you haven’t resided here, you have to go back through the trail, and look at which country you can establish jurisdiction in.

Benjamin Bryant: And the separation period Heather. You have to be separated for 12 months?

Heather McKinnon: Yes and that looks really easy, doesn’t it? But that’s one of the other hard bits of this. As Covid’s hit, heaps of people have separated under the one roof. A lot more than we would normally see because the rental market is so atrocious that people can’t get away.

Benjamin Bryant:  A lot of people ask you this. Is there any way around the 12 month period a lot of people… testy break up… things are all tumultuousness… and they say, “I just want to get divorced.”  Is it possible to curtail the 12-month separation period?

Heather McKinnon: No there’s not unless you come in and tell the lawyers that you separated some other time. I mean, I know people backdate their separation dates. I mean, it’s one of those things where it depends on people really looking at when did one of them tell the other one that it was over. Because you do get these situations where people live upstairs downstairs, or they live in garages, they live in granny flats in the back yard. There’s some really complicated arrangements. And I think we’re going to see heaps more of them over the next couple of years because people have been joined at the hip when they didn’t want to be.

Benjamin Bryant: Thank you, Heather. For the next part, I’m just going to run through quickly how people can start off with the do-it-yourself divorce.  Most divorces are done online these days. You don’t fill out a paper form and send it to the registry. It’s mostly done online. So before people get started, what they’ll need, as you said before, Heather, is their marriage certificate. They’ll need a clear copy of their marriage certificate and they’ll also need a credit card, because marriages are expensive, but so are divorces. Then they have to go to the Commonwealth Courts portal. So the Commonwealth Courts portal is a website essentially for the Family Court, the Federal Court, the Federal Circuit Court for online filing and you can see where your matter is up to and the interaction essentially with the court. Divorce is no different in terms of court proceedings, it’s a short court proceeding, but a court proceeding none the less. So you have to log on to ComCourts. So you’d have to register as a new user. Once you’re in, you then have to start a new file. You then have to do an application for a divorce. Then you choose the Federal Circuit Court and the listeners should choose “guided option”. So you’ll see that there’s an option that’s guided and unguided.  Unguided is just straight up forms. Just allows you to fill in, complete and click. The guided form will give you explanation and each of the steps. So if you’re doing a do-it-yourself divorce without a lawyer, my advice would be to click “guided.”  That will give you information along the way.

Joint or sole divorce application?

Benjamin Bryant: Then the next thing you’ll have to decide is whether you’re going to make a sole application for divorce or a joint application. What is the difference?

Heather McKinnon: So the joint application is a much easier way of getting divorced, in that it requires both parties to the marriage to fill in the same form and say, “Look, we just want this to go through”. And it avoids complications around service. But my experience is that ninety nine percent of cases, one party doesn’t want the divorce, even if they’ve gone through property settlement. And so, by and large, you will be making an application on your own. But certainly for couples who have a level of communication, they’re civil, they’ve done all of their other paperwork, then it is appropriate to do the joint application. And it also means it’s very clear you pay half each. One of the intricacies of the whole process involves that filing fee that you’ve got to pay the government, which is now well over a thousand dollars. If you’re in receipt of any sort of means tested Commonwealth pension or family tax benefit, you can apply to significantly reduce that fee. So if you’ve got one party who’s eligible for that relief and the other party isn’t, it will be a decision as to whether the one who does get the relief applies as a sole applicant so they don’t have to pay that huge fee to the government.

Benjamin Bryant: And just to clarify Heather, the current filing fee for divorce is $940. Next year it’s probably going to be well over a thousand dollars, but today it’s $940. And the reduced rate, if you’re in receipt of legal aid or have a pensioner concession card or health care, would be $310.

Benjamin Bryant: So once the parties have made that decision, whether they’re going to make a joint application for divorce or sole application for divorce, you then have to input all of your details, your dates of birth, where you were born, where you were married, what was your separation date: all those straightforward things. But some things aren’t straightforward. There are a few complicating factors. For example, when was separation?

When does separation legally start?

Heather McKinnon: So the legal definition of separation is when one spouse clearly communicates to the other that the marriage is over. Now, for most people, they recognise that date as the date when one person leaves the shared house. So the furniture truck turns up in the morning, have a nice life. But of course, that’s not the case with every separation. Some of the unusual ones in the area that we practice, we have a lot of FIFO workers who either work, for example, in the merchant marines or they work in the mining services industry. And those marriages are characterised by long absences between spouses where someone might be regularly out of the country or in a mining site for months at a time. So you get these unusual circumstances where someone will want to backdate the separation to the last swing shift and say, “Joe went to work in March and the marriage was over.” When Joe gets the papers, he says, “That’s a shock to me. No one told me I was getting separated”. So it’s all about making sure in the documents that that separation date is clearly identified and it allows the who’s on the other side of the application to either agree or disagree.

Benjamin Bryant:  And like I said before, people sometimes back data, and that’s normally by agreement. Heather, you mentioned before separated under one roof. I won’t get you to go over that again. Married less than two years: there’s an additional requirement for couples married less than two years.

Married under 2 years?  Off to counselling!

Heather McKinnon: Yeah. So this is a historical holdover. When the Family Law Act was passed by parliament in the 70s, there was a huge objection to it from the right wing, conservative, religious lobby groups. And so one of the negotiations was that if a couple had been married for less than two years, they would have to go through compulsory marriage counselling. That was a recognition that often people get the wobbles up in that first couple of years. And back in the 70s, people were getting married in their early 20s. So over time, that part of the act has remained. And if you have been married less than two years, you are required to go to an approved family practitioner who puts you through a test really, a series of sessions to check that the marriage is done and dusted and can’t be saved. I think it’s still useful. We don’t see it very often nowadays, but there are people who do live together for years in de facto relationships and then right at the death nell they decide: if we get married, that might save it. So they’ve been married less than two years, but they living together for 10 years. So you see all sorts of situations around that. But it is important to remember that if it is less that two years: off to counselling.

What does the Court look for before approving a divorce?

Benjamin Bryant: And Heather we’ve gone to pains to say that a divorce is separate to the parenting arrangements for children, but of course the parenting arrangements for children are considered by the court at the time of divorce. If you’re doing a parenting dispute in a proceeding, the court is looking at the best interests of children. When a court is looking at a divorce, they’re looking for proper arrangements. What does proper arrangements mean?

Heather McKinnon:  So the divorce is often the only time that the Court will see what’s happening to little ones in a family, because not many people actually go to Court over their kids. So there’s boxes you’ll see in the form, that ask you to talk about which schools the kids go to, how they’re progressing with their health, do both parents contribute to their ongoing upkeep. And what you’ll see, judicial officers who do the divorce list will sometimes stop the divorce going through because they are not satisfied that the kids are seeing the other parent or that there’s proper financial arrangements in place. So the general rule of thumb when we’re in these cases is that you tell the judicial officer doing the divorce up front, “Look, they’re not seeing, Dad, but there’s litigation before the court” or “Mum’s providing all the financial support because Dad’s unwell and on the disability pension”. They need to drill down and check that the system’s there to support the kids if required. So it’s that last check, if you like.

What if you want a divorce but can’t find your ex?

Benjamin Bryant:  What if you can’t locate your spouse?

Heather McKinnon: Yeah, it’s amazing how many people do disappear. So you’ll see in the forms when you lodge them that you’ve got to personally serve, or arrange for personal service. And there’s a lot of people who, particularly when there’s no kids, disappear off the planet and you can’t find them. So there’s a special provision, to allow a divorce to go through, even though the ex hasn’t been found by process servers or the normal channels. What the court will do is make sure you’ve used all reasonable attempts to locate them. So the sorts of things we get in those cases are orders that you serve them at their Facebook or email account, that you serve the documents at their parents’ house by registered mail, that you give evidence about when the last time you knew where they were living was and why you can’t find them. So it isn’t impossible to get divorced if you can’t serve the other spouse. But it does get much harder because the evidence that you’ve got to give the judge on the attempts to find them becomes quite onerous. And it’s pretty difficult, to get that evidence if you’re not used to doing it. So if you get stuck on that, you might need to get some help from a lawyer to give you a list of the things you should do if it’s becoming obvious that you’re not going to be able to find your ex.

How should I serve divorce papers on my ex?

Benjamin Bryant: And I was going to jump to that a bit later on, Heather, but we’ll jump onto it now. Ordinarily, you would be required to have someone personally serve your spouse if it’s a sole application. So the court is aware that that person has been offered what we call procedural fairness or natural justice. That they’re aware of the divorce hearing and they can respond or attend the hearing if they want to. And if you can’t locate your spouse, then you have to ask for permission to break that rule essentially, and do it with Facebook or email, like you said before. I would refer our listeners at this point to our podcast that we did with Steve Wallace of SWA Investigations, who we employ on a daily basis to serve divorces. So even if you do-it-yourself divorce, I would not do-it-yourself service and always engage the professionals.

Benjamin Bryant: Heather, once we’ve entered all of the details, we’ve uploaded the marriage certificate, we need to lock in the information. And once we lock in the information, we can’t make any changes. So at this point, I really encourage our listeners to check the information, especially cross referencing the information that that marriage certificate and the information that’s in the divorce form. Because if you put in Coffs Harbour and you were married in Boambee, you’re going to come into trouble.

Heather McKinnon: And that spelling of the names. So you’ll see in the divorce form, for all our listeners, it asks you to put the names as you see them on the marriage certificate and you would not believe how many errors there are on marriage certificates. So, point for young players… Really kept checking.

Signing and finalising the divorce paperwork

Benjamin Bryant:  So once you’ve locked in all the information and you can’t go back, you then need to print the next page, which is the affidavit of efiling. That would then need to be signed by our listener in front of JP or a lawyer. Then it needs to be scanned and uploaded back onto the portal and it’s ready to submit to the Court. If there’s some of the complicating factors that we discussed, such as if you were married for less than two years and you need that counselling certificate, or if you’ve changed your name from what is on the marriage certificate and it’s not your maiden name, or if you haven’t been able to locate your spouse, you may need to do an affidavit at that point and you need to upload that as well. Affidavits aren’t your ordinary document submitted with every single divorce. If there’s complicating factors, I would recommend our listeners get legal advice for that.

Heather McKinnon: I was just going to say, Ben, that a Justice of the Peace can be found in many businesses on counters like banks and the NRMA or the RTA. But we have this fantastic service where there are Justice of the Peace who volunteer their time at both the courthouse and shopping centers, a couple of times a week. They’re usually retired people who have been in jobs as school teachers, public servants, people who have spent their life dealing with forms. And even though you might just want them to witness your signature, if you have got some things you want checked, they’re usually pretty helpful and able to talk you through each of the pages that you’ve got questions about. So I highly recommend that service.

Getting a Court date 

Benjamin Bryant: Hot tip! And Heather the next step, of course, is the payment. You chuck in your credit card details and make the payment. Once they receive the payment and the documents have been submitted, you will then get the ability to choose your location. Obviously, you choose the location in the Federal Circuit Court closest to you and then you’ll be able to choose the next available court date. Unfortunately, they’re not readily available. So I recommend to our listeners just to choose whatever comes up first. Heather, when is it necessary to attend court?

Heather McKinnon: Well in this Covid period, all of the divorces, at the moment, are being done by telephone. There is, increasing information available to the profession that that’s going to continue post Covid.

Benjamin Bryant:  Of course, if it’s a joint application of divorce, you do not need to attend court at all. If it’s a sole application and there are not children under 18 years old, then you certainly don’t need to attend court at all. When it’s a sole application and there are children under 18 that there is ordinarily a requirement to attend court. But like you just said, what does attend court actually mean these days? It could be by telephone, but either way, the court will update you. You have all your details in the form. The court will keep you apprised of the situation. It is always changing.

Benjamin Bryant:  Heather, once we’ve got the documents off the portal, we’ve got our court date, we’ve paid our money, we’ve got the big red seal from the court. We then have to serve the divorce application, which we already went through. Once served, does the spouse have to do anything?

What if my ex won’t sign the divorce papers? 

Heather McKinnon: No. The service documents require that the person who is being served signs a document called Acknowledgement of Service. And some smart alecs think if they don’t sign it, the divorce won’t go through. The reason you have a process server, or an adult not related to people, to serve is that if someone is going to be an idiot and say, “I’m not going to sign it, you can’t get divorced”. The person who’s served it does an affidavit to say, “I know him. I gave him the documents and he said he wouldn’t sign for it, but I’m satisfied that he got it”. So that’s how we get around that.

What to expect in court

Benjamin Bryant: We’ve seen some pretty interesting examples of people trying to evade service. But you can run, but you cannot hide. Heather, of course, the next thing is the divorce hearing itself, the court event. What can people expect?

Heather McKinnon: So the divorces tend to be done in bundles. So, the judicial officer who is given that list, will have a day where they’ll do 10 divorces an hour for five hours. Usually when you file your divorce, you’ll be given the specific time that it’s going to be on. And it’ll usually be a window of an hour where they’ll do five to ten divorces when yours is listed. So what happens is when your matter comes on, the judicial officer will ask you what documents you’re relying on. So you let them know that you filed the marriage certificate. You tell them that you’ve filed the divorce and the day you did it and you’ll tell them that you filed the service documentation. The judicial officer usually will have read all of those documents, and if they’ve got any questions about any of the documents, that’s when they’ll ask you. You don’t need to be shaking in your boots, although most people are. Because in my experience, the judicial officers are there to help you get the divorce. And if they pick up a problem with your document, they’ll talk you through what you need to do. So it is important to have a pen and paper with you because if there’s something wrong, they’ll say, “Look, I’m going to put this over for a month to this date. And in that period of time, I want you to do these jobs.” So the way to enter the hearing is to think of the person as someone who’s trying to help. They’re not trying to make your life difficult, but they can only grant the divorce if the legal requirements have been properly adhered to. And if they haven’t been, they’re going to help you get there. So I just think about them as a helper. Don’t think about them as the headmaster when you were seven and you were going to get the cane. That’s  the big trick.

Benjamin Bryant: You not in trouble.

How soon after divorce can I remarry?

Benjamin Bryant: So Heather, people rock up to the divorce hearing. The registrar finds that they were married, that they’ve been separated for 12 months, that their marriage is irretrievably broken down and grants a divorce order.  What happens next? When can someone get remarried?

Heather McKinnon: So then you’ve got to wait a month and one day. So the reason the act of parliament says that you’ve got a further cooling off period of a month and one day is to allow people to reflect and maybe change their mind. It does happen. But it also means that if someone’s really certain that legal requirements haven’t been met, they can make an objection to the divorce in that period of time. So we’d only see one in a thousand where something happens in that one month and one day. So if there’s some urgent reason for remarriage, you must remember to ask the court at the time of the hearing to shorten the time. That need for remarriage in a quicker time, historically came about when you had people who, for example, had become pregnant and wanted to be legally married before the birth of the baby, but one of them had forgotten that they had an ex-partner. Very rarely would you see that nowadays that there is provision to shorten the time in emergency situations.

Does divorce impact parenting or property arrangements?

Benjamin Bryant: And Heather, once divorced, what impact does that have on a parenting matter?

Heather McKinnon: In relation to parenting matters, the divorce really has nothing to do with anything other than saying that the parents are divorced. Where it is really important is in relation to property settlement. At the moment, the judge will pronounce a divorce and tell you that in one month and one day you’ll be able to get the divorce. Because of the way the computer systems are set up, you normally can’t print it off, for about five to six weeks after the divorce. When you print the divorce off the computer there’s this huge warning on it. If you have not done your property settlement, you now have 12 months to do it. So it’s really important that people understand that that time frame is a critical thing. The other thing to remember when you get divorced is that you do need to review things like your wills, and your estate planning because the divorce changes the legal status of the relationship between parties. And there are various areas of law that then come into play in a different way because you are divorced.

When is DIY divorce a bad idea?

Benjamin Bryant: And so we just stepped our listeners through a do-it-yourself divorce. When would it be, in your mind, not appropriate to do a do-it-yourself divorce? When would you need a lawyer?

Heather McKinnon: I think the biggest area of dispute is around when did separation occurs in property settlements. So there can be very serious implications around that date of separation. For example, if someone inherited wealth after the separation. People who aren’t paying attention to detail might put in the separation date that has a material impact on their property settlement. certainly the other area is if you’re in a very violent situation and you’re fleeing from it. The divorce can trigger some sort of reaction in, particularly in males, who see marriage as like a property contract. So if you’re in one of those situations and you’ve been avoiding doing the divorce because you’re worried about triggering your ex-partner, then get a lawyer to do it and/or get to legal aid.

Is it appropriate to DIY my parenting and property arrangements?

Benjamin Bryant: And at the start of the podcast we spoke about the difference between divorce and parenting arrangements and property settlements and the like. Although people often confuse them. And then we’ve walked through do-it-yourself divorce. Is it appropriate for sometimes to do DIY parenting settlement?

Heather McKinnon: I mean, look, I think you and I have the attitude whenever we see people that we will empower them to do the bits of their case they can do themselves. I always use a line, and clients would be sick of hearing it, that we’re intensive care specialists. I mean, most people should be able to do a fair bit of this stuff themselves, but we come in when that’s not possible. So lots of people can use all of the resources available for resolving disputes away from lawyers. So, you know, getting a skilled mediator to help you sort out things with kids is preferable to legal proceedings. But if you’re a couple that are able to really communicate well after the separation, then you’re really able to do your own consent orders if you can both focus on the outcome that you mutually agreed. So every case is different. I think the key is whether the communication level remains functional. Once that goes, it’s pretty hard to negotiate and do things face to face.

Benjamin Bryant: And property settlement’s a little bit different. I find with parenting matters, people can do DIY a lot of the time because the outcome, what you’ve agreed to reflects the intention. But with property it’s a little bit more difficult because, especially with the transferring of land has to be in a particular language, discharge of mortgage or superannuation orders and stuff like that. Some things actually need orders and they need to be drafted by lawyers to make sure they get it right. Is there any other examples when do-it-yourself property settlement may be appropriate or inappropriate?

Heather McKinnon: Yeah, look, I think that you often get simple cases where assets are in one party’s name and the deal is just a payment of cash. Well, they’re really simple orders that people can do. But I again drive people mad by using this line: you don’t go out to the hospital and say, “Look, I want to take my own appendix out, but can I use your facilities?” Even though we sound like we’re just talking about common sense, we do five years at uni, we do postgraduate study for a reason. This is quite complex and the intersection of tax law, property law, estate law, all of those things take years to understand. And if you’ve got any sort of wealth, I think you do need to invest to get it done properly.

Benjamin Bryant: And that’s right. And perhaps the investment would just be speaking with the lawyer initially. So it’s not a train you can’t stop. Just make informed decisions, which is exactly what this podcast program is about.

Goodbye for now….

Benjamin Bryant:  Well, that was a great discussion, and I think it’ll be really helpful to anyone who wants to keep the costs of divorce down. And it’s another great addition to our growing library of podcasts. Thank you.

Heather McKinnon: You’re welcome Ben. I think it’s really important that people are empowered to make decisions themselves and hopefully we can help them continue to do that.

Benjamin Bryant: Agreed. And next month, we’re going to bookend this show. We’re balancing this DIY discussion with a show all about lawyers and how to get the best out of them. If you aren’t going to go it alone and you do invest in the legal assistance then we want to get the most out of that investment. So that means choosing your lawyer wisely and working with them effectively. So next month, we’re going to share our tips on what to look for in a good family lawyer and how you can work with your lawyer to ensure the best outcomes. If you have specific questions about family lawyers and how to get the best out of them, please send them to familymatters@bryantmckinnon.com.au or message us on Facebook. Feel free to also share stories about things that have worked well, or not so well, with your family lawyer. As I always say at the end of this show, please don’t forget to share this podcast with friends and family who need it. Also, a reminder that you’ll find links to any resources mentioned, plus a full transcript of today’s show in the show notes on our website. Goodbye for now. And we hope to have your ears again next month.


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