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Helping children to cope with divorce and separation

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On the Show Today You’ll Learn

Children can be unintended collateral damage when parents separate.  In this episode Ben and Heather speak to Dr Ian Nisbet, forensic psychologist from the Australian Psychology & Wellness Centre in Coffs Harbour, about how to help children cope with the trauma of family breakdown.

Topics discussed include:

    • How parents can minimise the impact of separation on their child.
    • The danger signs parents should be on the lookout for with teenagers.
    • What living arrangements are best for the children.
    • How do you know when a child needs therapeutic help?
  • Is it ok to let your children see your anger or stress?
  • How does the Family Report process work when children’s matters go to court?

Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Parental Conflict & Its Effect on Children: This Family Court of Australia Fact Sheet provides information for parents about the various ways conflict affects children.

Find a Psychologist: Australian Psychological Society database helps you to access local psychologist.

FAQs Children’s Matters: This FAQ document answers frequently asked legal questions relating to children’s matters.

Family Reports: This Family Court of Australia Fact Sheet provides information for parents for whom the Court has ordered a Family Report from a family consultant.

Family Consultants: This Family Court of Australia Fact Sheet explains the role of a family consultant in legal cases involving children.

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Full Episode Transcript

Benjamin: Welcome to The Family Matters podcast where we answer the tough questions about divorce and separation. Empowering you to make better decisions for yourself and your family.

So welcome. Thanks for listening to Season 1 Episode 1 of the new Family Matters Show podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Bryant from Bryan MacKinnon lawyers and I’m here with my partner Heather McKinnon.

Hi Heather.

Heather: Hi Ben.

Benjamin: I’m very excited to be kicking off this new podcast.

Heather: Yeah as you know we’re passionate about trying to give information out to the community. Free of charge. That’s of good quality, to get rid of the myths about family law and we think this format’s going to really help us reach a better audience in a better way.

Benjamin: For those of you that don’t know Heather and myself we’re both accredited family law specialists here at Bryant McKinnon Lawyers in Coffs Harbour and we see firsthand how difficult and scary separation can be and that’s why we started this show to get some questions answered without getting lawyers involved. And yes so to help people navigate what can be a very difficult and complex system in a difficult and complex time. Today we’re going to tackle one of the biggest concerns for many people going through a separation and that of course is the parenting arrangements. What is going to happen with the children. Too often children are unintended collateral damage during the divorce and so for this show we’re going to focus on how we can help children cope through separation and to help us deal with this subject of course, we’re joined by Dr. Ian Nisbet.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Hi Ben. Good to be here.

Benjamin: Thank you for joining us. For those of you that don’t know Dr Ian Nisbett is a forensic psychologist based in Coffs Harbour current practising as a private psychologist with the Australian Psychology and Wellness Centre. He works with children, teens and parents to assist with relationship and conduct problems. He also works extensively in the court system providing family reports and forensic psychological reports. He has previously worked as a lecturer at Griffith University and with New South Wales Juvenile Justice.

So Ian this is an incredibly large topic and every family is different of course and so are children different ages, personality, maturity types, the nature of the relationship between the children the parents are different, but in that context we’re going to ask a few questions anyway in this short program and we’re going to ask some pointed questions that Heather and I asked frequently in our interview rooms and again thank you for being with us today. So Ian given that every situation is different what would you say are the three or four most important things for parents to keep in mind if they want to minimise their children’s trauma from separation.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Look I think the best outcomes for children in these kind of matters is when the parents are able to somehow amicably arrange the living arrangements for the children in a way that doesn’t involve a lot of hostility and anger directed towards the other party. Children are very sensitive to how their parents feel about, well how their parents feel in general but also how they feel about the other party as well and as much as possible if parents are able to shield their children from the conflict, that’s what that’s what leads to the best outcomes for children.

Heather: Ian I know you were just talking about and kids are very in tune with parents and often when we see people they think that it’s just what they say. But I think that in your role you would say kids tune in to a lot more subtle things then words coming out of their parents.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Well that’s yeah that’s right. And not just children. I mean we know that about human communication in general. In fact it’s more the tone of voice the body language and so forth rather than actual words people use that conveys meaning. But yes certainly children are very sensitive to their parents moods and to whether the parents are happy or sad and what things might be troubling them.

And we know also that unfortunately sometimes because their children and their experience of the world is very small and short they make sometimes wrong assumptions about things and I think we’re probably familiar with the scenario where sometimes children will think that the reason mummy and daddy are angry and separating is because they’ve been naughty or something like that. So sometimes children misattribute things as well. Soit’s a very difficult time for children.

And I guess here I’m speaking obviously mainly of the younger children, but you know there’s obviously people involved in family court matters go from having quite young children right up to teenagers as well. So it’s a little bit different depending on the developmental stage children are at.

Heather: I know some of the things that your profession has taught us over the years is with the really little ones they will smell stress and you can try and be calm but if as a parent you’ve got really anxious things happening inside, the kids it will be very attuned to the smell that’s on your skin.

Dr Ian Nisbet: And of course it’s very difficult not to be anxious and stressed when you go through this kind of situation as well. It’s a very difficult time for parents also.

Benjamin: And is there any other practical steps you can think of and or common practical steps that parents could take to help them shield their children from the conflict and trauma.

Dr Ian Nisbet: I guess I’d probably think more in terms of good things for parents to avoid. And so as much as possible avoiding the children being collateral damage or being caught in the middle so not denigrating the other parent in front of them but also not asking the other child to be some sort of go between in terms of ferrying messages to and fro or even spying on the other parent or trying to use the child to get some kind of information about what’s going on in the other household and things like that. Those things are really best avoided.

Trying to avoid, like I said, denigrating the parent possibly sort of like blaming the parent that the other party for things and and making sure the child knows that the reason that something has happened or hasn’t happened is because mommy or daddy wouldn’t let it happen or something like that. So dragging the child into the conflict is not in anyone’s best interests, particularly not the children’s.

Heather: What happens Ian when little ones and take on those responsibilities and feel that they’re somehow going to control outcomes. What as a psychologist can you predict about what will happen to little ones that become over-involved.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Well obviously it greatly adds to their stress makes them anxious and you know it can lead to a whole lot of other kind of outcomes in terms of them not doing so well at school or not being able to sleep, can lead to somatic kind of problems as well.

So over-stressed children are likely to suffer a number of both general physical health but also mental health poor outcomes.

Benjamin: And I find with older children especially Ian parents sometimes forget how children can receive information. Sometimes people think it’s because they’re on the telephone and they can hear the other parent or conflict at changeovers but sometimes it can be something like Facebook. Facebook is a great opportunity for us to communicate with our viewers live right now. But it can also cause some serious damage. I know parents, especially with younger children, their primary means of communication is Facebook. And they can actually see their friends with their parents or their friends of friends and they can see their place. So I’m finding that’s a big problem.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Yeah absolutely. I mean Facebook is a tool. Basically we’re using it as a tool today. But like most tools like a very sharp knife, very sharp knives are very useful tools in some situations, also very dangerous in the wrong hands as well. Sowe absolutely need to be careful about that.

Benjamin: And Ian one of the things I know parents agonise about is how to break the news of their separation to their children. Does it make a big difference how this is done? And do you have specific recommendations how to best do this.

Dr Ian Nisbet: It depends very much on the developmental stage of the child. I mean particularly with teenagers, chances are that it will come as no surprise to the teenagers if parents are going to separate because I can generally kind of see what’s happening and pick up the vibe and know what’s going on. For younger children I think the most important thing is for the child to know, if we’re talking primary age or below, for the children to know that they’re not to blame, it’s not because they’ve done something wrong and they weren’t good enough or they weren’t well behaved enough or whatever but that it’s just that sometimes moms and dads don’t get along and that they still love the child very much that as much as possible things are going to continue as normal but they’ll be doing it probably from some separate houses in the future. So they won’t necessarily be living together, but it’s important for the child to know that what has been their world up until now can actually continue, in that they can still have a secure relationship with both parties, but it may be under slightly different circumstances. For the younger children they need reassurance that it’s not the end of the world, that things are not going to change into something awful and different, but they will still able to be with both parents.

Heather: And how do you help a client who, at the time of the relationship breakdown, is feeling completely out of control, to give them immediate assistance so they don’t involve the children. What sort of practical assistance would you give a client in therapy to help them set aside their needs, from those of the kids.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Yeah, that’s quite difficult. I’ve spoken to parents sometimes they come and see me because they’ve just received the news that their marriage is over and that totally for some people comes as a complete shock. and so trying to work out what to do. I think something that helps is to get, what I try and do is provide them with some information about things that may happen from now on and also to encourage them to get some advice and for them to develop some kind of understanding about what might happen. I think of some parents that experience is like trying to cross a room that has got a whole lot of furniture and suddenly the lights have gone out or something like. They don’t know where the obstacles and the dangers are but if you try and shed some kind of light there, make them at least understand these are the things that might happen, these are the things to watch out for and for them to feel like they have some level of control. Maybe there are some little things that they might be able to have some control over in a situation where they feel that things are very much out of control. Also just general mental health things as well. In terms of when they’re dealing with a big shock like that to make sure that they moderate use of alcohol be careful not to drink too much. Make sure that they’re actually still eating regular exercise, diet and things like that. Those kinds of things are helpful for your general mental health in any situation but particularly in you’re facing a very stressful situation like the end of a relationship.

Heather: And when would you indicate to a person that they would benefit from going to their general practitioner to get a referral to a psychologist. A lot of people who see Ben and I, when we say “look we think you’d get some help and benefit” are resistant because of the old stigma that we have. So can you give an overview as to what the Medicare system now does in terms of getting access to psychologists and why it may be a strength not a weakness.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Okay well I’ll give you an overview of the Medicare system, which is currently under review as well.

But look at the moment under what’s called the Medicare or the Better Access scheme of Medicare, Australians are entitled to 10 rebatable sessions with a psychologist per calendar year. In order to get that rebate you need to get a mental health care plan. So the first thing is that you would need to go to see a general practitioner, advise them that you want to come in and have an interview interview for a mental health care plan, because that actually takes a little bit longer than a standard consultation. And then in that the GP will create a referral to a psychologist, it doesn’t have to be a specific psychologist, but generally GP will know which local psychologists will probably best suit the situation. It’s important though that the GP is able to put the specific mental health diagnosis that they want the person to be treated for. So for example you can’t if it’s prior to separation or something the GP can’t actually write a referral say for marriage counselling – marriage counselling is not actually a mental health issue that’s covered by Medicare. But what often happens is, particularly in the relationship ends, someone will just be finding it very difficult to adjust to the new situation. And so there’s actually a diagnosis called “adjustment disorder” which is very often the diagnosis that people come with on a mental health care plan.

So, as I say, once you’ve got your mental health care plan, you can then call a psychologist and make a booking. It doesn’t have to be specifically the psychologist that the doctor recommended you can go to any psychologist registered with Medicare, which is most people in private practice. And that’s the process.

Depending on the psychologists it could be a gap between what the psychologist charges and what Medicare will cover. So that gap could be ending up to maybe 100 dollars depending on the psychologist, what the psychologist charges and the particular part of Australia you might be living in. In different areas if it costs differently. Some psychologists will bulk bill people that may be on a healthcare card or may have limited income so if it’s bulk billed there’s no gap. But there are the stages to go through in terms of practical stuff.

Now I think it’s a good idea to get some support, because the great benefit of seeing psychologists is that you can go and you can totally unload and just blurt out all the stuff and there’s no expectation the psychologist has to be there for you. So some people they will often lean on their friends and everything but they may be reluctant to tell friends too much because there is an expectation of friendship that it’s a two way thing, you don’t have to worry about that with psychologists because that’s what they’re there for. So you don’t have to take a particular interest in them, a psychologist is there interested in you and how you’re coping with things. So the best psychologists will give you 50 minutes of quite focused attention and hopefully empathetic listening and so forth. Which is again generally beneficial for everyone. I guess the thing that sometimes people may be concerned about in terms of seeing a psychologist if they’re involved in family court litigation, is the possibility that the psychologist notes could be subpoenaed. I think the psychologists are aware of that. I guess, if you’re going to engage a psychologist you should be aware that that’s a possibility as well. So. But that’s the nature of it.

Heather: I think one of the things that we would say is that if you’re assessing a family and somebody did get assistance for that adjustment problem it’s likely to be seen as a benefit because then they’re aware they need help to minimise the damage to the kids.

Dr Ian Nisbet: You would certainly hope that’s the case.

Benjamin: And just taking up on that Ian, we’re talking about adjustments in the parents but there’s adjustment for the children as well and the children have to grieve the loss of living with parent or perhaps the breakup of their family and some children take longer than others. What can parents be on the lookout for which might indicate that their children are perhaps adjusting or taking longer than expected or outside the normal range.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Yeah okay. I used to think that you’d want to be watching for symptoms of depression or some similar mood disorder. And I guess it would be normal in a situation like this for the children to be upset, to feel despondent et cetera et cetera. I guess the point at which you would say that it has crossed from being a normal kind of reaction to something that needs some kind of clinical attention is the idea or the construct of impairment of function.

What I mean by that is the child is unable to perform functions in some important area of their life. So, for example, if they’re not getting out of bed because they’re just so sad or they’re not able to go to school, or they’re crying a lot and so they’re unable to do whatever it is. Or if they lose interest in things that they previously used to really love. So if they’re really keen swimmers and suddenly they’re just not interested in that anymore etc. etc. These are areas where you might say there could be some impairment of function in important areas of either socialising or academic life or even if they’re working or something like that. So that’s the point at which you would have to say okay maybe this is more than just the normal kind of grief and feeling sad and maybe this is something that requires some professional input.

Heather: Yeah. And again as you were saying before, parents shouldn’t be concerned because the general practitioner that has been helping look after the kids will be that sounding board to look at if you’re overreacting or no the little one might need some backup.

Dr Ian Nisbet: That’s right. Yes. So your general practitioners is the first point of call and if you’re taking a child to a general practitioner chances are that the GP does have a lot of experience in speaking to children and so they would have some idea about what would be normal and what might require some extra investigation.

Benjamin: And Ian when you’ve got your family consultant hat on. I know at the end of your reports you’re forced to make recommendations to the court and more importantly to the parties. Of course in the Family Law Act there is no prescribed parenting arrangement for children there’s no default plan or a plan B or something like that or 50/50. What do you think are the best arrangements that can work for children or what do you find is the most common living arrangements that work well for children. I know it’s a hard question, but there it is.

Dr Ian Nisbet: In terms of what works well, unfortunately I’d have to say you guys are probably better judges of that than I am because I have an unusual situation in that I often make the recommendations but I actually don’t tend to see what happens after. So I don’t see the follow up very often.

But in general what I would say, and it depends again on the developmental stage of the child, so obviously what’s good for four or five year old is different from say an 11 or 12 year old. But in general I would say something that is consistent and easily understood. So for example if it’s a regular thing like if it’s every second weekend with one party from Friday to Sunday and one night during the off week or something like that. That’s quite standard, it’s reasonably easy to understand and therefore it’s easy to implement. And it also provides some level of security and consistency for the children, because when they’ve had something very unusual happen in their life with the separation of parents it’s good for them to at least feel like something is predictable and routine.

The good thing about that as well is that the parents don’t necessarily have to see each other all that often. So if you are having high conflict with the other party then the sort of plan you probably want is one that’s easy to keep track of, easily understood so there’s not conflict around that. But also you may not necessarily have to have that much to do with the other party if you really don’t want to see the other party or feel concerned about seeing them change over. So they are the kinds of things I think are important in terms of predictability, routine, easily understood so it’s unlikely that conflict will be generated by it or there will be some ambiguity about whether it’s my week or your week.

Heather: And there’s crazy things you see where people have got in Week 1 three days in one day every six day. The adults can’t understand it, how the hell would primary school aged children understand it.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Exactly. Yeah.

And I think the parents have to really remember when discussing or negotiating or considering parenting arrangements for the children, that it is about the children, it’s not about them. And we see all the time in people that come into our office and sometimes we see it enshrined in court orders as well – parenting arrangements that are completely age inappropriate for children. Change overs on Christmas Day and Father’s Day and stuff like that in high conflict cases, when really it is just about the parents. You know kids love having two Christmases or an extra birthday party or something like that a lot of the time the focus is actually on the parents.

Benjamin: And Ian I know you have a specialty with teenagers. Is there something that parents can be on the lookout for specifically in relation to teenagers and how they can help them through the separation. I know from Heather and I’s point of view, that the view of a teenager is given a lot more weight and sometimes given the only weight in some matters. So what things can the parents look out for to make sure that arrangements are appropriate for teenagers, in consideration of the teenagers views.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Ok. It’s a difficult question for me to think of an answer off the top of my head. I mean, I guess you have to balance a few different considerations. One is the level of attachment that they have with with each parent. So clearly if court orders say that a teen has to spend time with a parent that they don’t particularly like or feel very much attachment to, that won’t work. And then the teen will vote with their feet. They just won’t do it. And then sometimes you may have people return to court and try to enforce it and really that does nothing to endear them to the teenager either.

So it’s important to be realistic at the first point when you’re trying to work out what sort of arrangements you are going to have. It would be foolish for a parent to try and enforce a teen spending time with them, when the teen is clearly not very keen on doing it. Because, as I said, they’ll create a rod for their own back.

Having said that though, if we’re talking about sub-teens, between about 10 and 12 or something like that, that in my experience is a more difficult area, because sometimes the child, for whatever reason, may not want to spend time with the other parent, but it is actually important for them to have a relationship with other parent. And so you would hope that in that instance that they would be encouraged by the other party to actually spend time the other parent and say “despite the fact that you may not be feeling very well disposed towards that parent at the moment, that they are going to be your or your father or your mother for the rest of your life and you will have a relationship with them and it’s actually important for you to give them a go and actually spend time with them. So it is important for parents to try and promote the child’s relationship with the other parent.

Heather: And I think in your field we’ve seen some research in the last few years for example that was at odds with what we thought, which was adolescent girls need to spend a lot of time with their father. And you know the research that we’re getting updates from all the time can often change the way we think But we know that girls in high school who don’t have strong attachments with their father are at very high risk of later outcomes that are not so good.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Yeah. And again it comes down to that idea of attachment. Trying to work out just how closely do they feel to the father for example. I mean quite legitimately there could be a lot of teenage girls that want to have very little to do with their fathers and possibly for quite good reasons. But if that’s not the case then certainly the relationship with fathers…you shouldn’t basically take the approach of, oh well it’s not important for the 13 year old girl to see her dad cause it’s a dad. And I guess that is the benefit of family reports and so forth, where you can have someone that actually can look at the individual case and try and weigh up the different factors.

Heather: And I think the other thing that is really important is the understanding as they move through high school how important the peer group inflexibility is. And often what Ben and I see is if parents separate when their children are little, when it gets to the adolescent starting to have to say, they often think it’s the other parent because they’ve been away in terms of that really close contact. So that need for flexibility in peer groups in adolescence I’m imagining is something else you need to factor in.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Yeah. And that does add an extra layer of complexity to the whole situation as well, because adolescence is a time when the peer group actually becomes more important than the parents, particularly in terms of setting norms or standards or whatever that the adolescent might want to try and meet or aspire to. So you’ll often find that the adolescent may not want to spend time with their parent but it’s not necessarily…I mean that’s a feature of adolescence I guess they don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of time with their parents, it’s more important to be out with their peers.

So I guess a challenge particularly for the parent that doesn’t spend most of the time with their adolescent is to try and still promote the relationship with the non living…I’m trying very hard to avoid the word custody… the parent that doesn’t have full time care. Because there could be just some normal resistance to doing that just because they are adolescents.

Benjamin: And Ian divorce is almost always an extremely stressful time for parents. Is it okay for parents to let kids see when they’re angry or upset.

Dr Ian Nisbet: I think to some extent. I mean it depends. Are we talking…which age group as well.

I think the best thing is to avoid, if they’re angry or upset, for the child to see you venting about the myriad shortcomings of the other party and how they’re a terrible person et cetera et cetera et cetera. That does no one any good.

Heather: But the observation of children… watching how their parents adjust to the trauma in that life even can be beneficial. Because the kids can se well you can survive. Mum and Dad were sad but now they’re happy.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Well that’s right. Exactly. So I guess as long as there is that balance. I think the biggest vulnerability adolescents have, is their life experience is relatively short and they don’t understand necessarily that things are crap now but they will actually get better in the future. And that’s something that I think is really really important and needs to be reinforced with adolescents quite a lot. I try to do that in my clinical practice. Not just in a family dispute cases, but when adolescents are feeling things are pretty bad in their life, to actually give them some hope that what you’re feeling now is very often normal and normalize it but the reality is that things will actually get better. Because adolescents that don’t understand that, if they develop some sort of hopelessness or real despair about the future that’s a risk factor for serious… suicide, self-harm and a number of other really bad outcomes.

Benjamin: I have one more question for you Ian and I’m going to ask you to put your family consultant hat back on. A lot of families that go through the family law courts endure or are subject to or go through the Family Report process. And of course I’m sure each family report writer is different. Heather and I we tell people on a daily basis what’s in the family report process. But of course we’ve never done one. And you do them all the time. So I thought for the last question it would be great to ask you, in your rooms at least, how does the family report process work.

Dr Ian Nisbet: Okay. Because I can only talk about my own. I don’t know about necessarily how other people do it. Except I will say that it’s a fairly standard kind of format. So the report that you produce, there’s expectations about what the headings and what’s contained under each heading so you would hope… and you guys would probably know better than me…you would have the most family reports follow a similar format.

But first all the format that I follow is that I contact the parties prior to the interviews to let them know when they’ll be on. The person that has filed the application for the litigation I generally see first. So generally I see the applicant first and then I see the other party after that. It involves an interview with each applicant to get an understanding about what they see as a situation, what their proposal is, how they would like to see things or what they think is the best outcome for the children.

If the person has a new partner then I would like to see them as well and then also really importantly to meet with the children. So if the children are more than…so if the children are at school I would usually interview the child as well and get a bit of a sense of how they are travelling what they feel about things, to as much as possible get an idea of what they would like to see as an outcome. And obviously if there are teenagers and so forth, ask other questions as well to try and get a bit of a sense of what they think would work. What kind of things would be important for the judge to know? Because the judge will be making the decision, and the decision is a decision which is aimed to be in the best interests of the child or the children. So I guess the family report is an opportunity for the child’s voice to be heard in proceedings. That’s the the aim that I have. So for me it would take about a day interviewing the various parties. Each party I would probably interview for a couple of hours and then I’d observe them with the children as well.

Heather: And that’s a play session.

Dr Ian Nisbet: That’s right. Yeah. Although I tend to kind of leave it up to the families as well and try and be very non directive and I basically sit there and see whether or not the parents like to take initiative and do some play or if they brought something with them more or that kind of stuff it gives me a bit of an idea about what the dynamics of the relationship are.

Benjamin: And when do you inspect the subpoena material. That’s what I want to know. Are you the type of family concern that gets all this information beforehand and then goes in and sees the party or do you read very little and have an organic experience?

Dr Ian Nisbet: It’s tricky because, say in Coffs Harbour, generally if you want to read the subpoenaed material you’ve either got to go to Newcastle Lismore to view it or you’ve got to be organised enough to ask for the registry to send it down to the courthouse at Coffs Harbour. So certain logistics involved and that so tends to determine when I read the subpoenaed material. So for example, I was looking at subpoenaed material this morning in the courthouse at Coffs Harbour. But that was for an interview that I did recently. So in fact I did the interview first and then read it here. I mean certainly you read the affidavits in applications and notices of risk and and so forth beforehand so you had a bit of an idea of what the issues are. I guess if the subpoenaed material was handy I’d probably like to read it beforehand, because it helps you when… very often you’ll get divergent accounts of the same events. So it’s good to actually have read the stuff beforehand so if someone tells you something which you know is really not quite what the other documents…

Heather: Police reports say…and things like the school reports give that objective view of how the kid’s travelling.

Dr Ian Nisbet: That’s right yeah. So it’s good to know beforehand.

Benjamin: Thank you so much Ian for helping us tackle this very big and complex issue.

And thank you to our listeners for joining us for this first podcast. We will be producing a new podcast every month and it will be available on our website or wherever you usually get your podcast on the first Friday of each month.

Next month we are going to talk about how to get a fair deal in your property settlement. You won’t want to miss that. So we hope you will join us again in June.

If you have any questions you would like to see answered on this show. You can contact us via Facebook messenger or by emailing familymatters@bryantmckinnon.com.au.

The information provided on this podcast is general in nature and not a substitute for personal legal advice. We recommend you consult an accredited family law specialist.