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E50: How mediators and arbitrators manage power imbalances

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On the Show Today You’ll Learn

On this episode, Ben and Heather were joined by The Honourable Colin Forrest.  Now retired from the Family Court, Colin now handles mediation and arbitration in family law.  We spoke to him about the delicate subject of managing power imbalances, and potentially domestic violence situations, in mediation and arbitration sessions.  Our discussions covered the following subjects:

  1. The difference between mediation and arbitration in family law.
  2. Whether you can be ordered to engage in mediation or arbitration.
  3. How a mediator/arbitrator will identify signs of abuse or power imbalance.
  4. Should domestic violence victims avoid mediation or arbitration?
  5. How are power imbalances dealt with in a mediation or arbitration setting?
  6. What about other vulnerabilities, such as mental health or disability?
  7. What does a mediator do if they sense fear or intimidation in a session?
  8. What happens if a court-ordered Family Dispute Resolution does not proceed?
  9. What are the advantages and disadvantages of online mediation/arbitration?
  10. Is a support person helpful in a mediation/arbitration?

Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Family Dispute Resolution: this page of the Federal Circuit and Family Law Court of Australia provides and explanation of the Family Dispute Resolution process.

Mediation Download: this download from our website provides answers to frequently asked questions about mediation in family law.

Colin Forrest SC: check out Colin’s website for more information about his services.

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Full Episode Transcript


Today’s show touches on domestic violence.  If this raises any concerns you can call domestic violence hotline 1800RESPECT 24-hours a day for support.

Benjamin Bryant: Welcome to episode 50 of the Family Matters Show. Drumroll please. I can’t believe we’ve made it to 50 episodes. I’m your host, Benjamin Bryant from Bryant McKinnon Lawyers, and I’m here with my partner and family law specialist Heather McKinnon. What do you think, Heather? Should we be cracking open the champagne to celebrate the big five oh?

Heather McKinnon: Bloody oath. It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for four years. When I look at the library, it’s just really great. I’m really proud of this. We’ve done a great job for education.

Benjamin Bryant: For sure, I’m super proud as well.

Benjamin Bryant: And what an amazing guest we have to celebrate our 50th. We are thrilled to welcome the Honourable Colin Forrest SC to our podcast. Practically a local, Colin Forrest was born and raised down the road in Tamworth, which also happens to be Heather’s hometown. He completed his Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts degrees at the University of New South Wales in 1986 and took up a job as legal associate to Justice Michael Kirby, then president of the New South Wales Court of Appeal, and was quickly admitted to the New South Wales Bar. In 1988 he moved to Queensland and within two years had been admitted to the Queensland Bar and established a specialist practice in family law and succession law. During this time, his expertise was sought as the Queensland Bar’s representative on the Queensland Law Society Family Law Specialist Accreditation Committee and as an elected board member of the Queensland Family Law Practitioners Association. In February 2011, he was appointed as Judge of the Trial Division of the Family Court of Australia, and by the time he resigned his judicial commission ten years later, he had written over 500 judgements. Colin has now returned to practice at the bar as a barrister, mediator and arbitrator, and today he is going to help us better understand how mediators and arbitrators deal with domestic violence. Colin, we are so honoured to have you with us today.

Colin Forrest: Yeah. Thanks, Ben. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for you and Heather inviting me on today and happy 50th anniversary.

Benjamin Bryant: Thank you. And of course, with such an illustrious guest, we want to get straight to the topic at hand. But first, let me quickly remind our listeners to share this show with friends and family starting down the path of separation or divorce. We now have a resource library of an amazing 50 podcast episodes, covering a wide range of subjects and featuring world class experts. So please share this podcast with anyone who may benefit. Okay, let’s get started.

Benjamin Bryant:  Let’s start with some definitions so we are clear about what we are actually talking about. Colin what is the difference between mediation and arbitration. And when are these used in family law?

Colin Forrest: Thanks, Ben. That’s a good question to start with.  Both processes are voluntary and entered into by the parties who are in dispute and who are hoping to be able to resolve their dispute without it actually going to court, but they are quite distinct. Mediation is a process by which people are assisted by a neutral, independent and objective person who is called the mediator, who mediates between them and helps them try to reach a resolution of their dispute by agreement: one that they can walk away and live with and move on with their lives. Arbitration, on the other hand, is what I would describe as private court or private judging. Arbitration is the same as going to court, but it’s done in the private system outside the court with properly accredited qualified arbitrators who act like judges, who hear cases presented to them by the parties and their solicitors and barristers and decide them as if they were a judge.  It has, though, once registered, the determination of the arbitrator all the force and effect of a court order.

Benjamin Bryant: And Colin, people use family dispute resolution and mediation and family law interchangeably. What’s difference between family dispute resolution with your ex, say, and maybe a neighbourhood dispute mediation or something?

Colin Forrest: Well, family dispute resolution is a term that’s used in the Family Law Act, so it’s defined. Basically, family law dispute resolution is effectively a form of mediation, but it’s carried out by people who are accredited family dispute resolution practitioners. That is, they are accredited according to a pre-approved training program, that’s set up by the Attorney-General’s Department, the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department. And they are then accredited as Family Dispute Resolution practitioners. And that’s defined in the Family Law Act. They are then able to mediate or act in family dispute resolution process between parties trying to resolve their dispute in a way that then allows them to give, particularly in respect of parenting disputes, certificates pursuant to section 60I of the Family Law Act, which is a prerequisite in most instances for people to be able to take parenting disputes to court.  Mediators, on the other hand, who aren’t necessarily accredited family dispute resolution practitioners are able to mediate property and parenting disputes between parties at any time, at any stage of the proceedings, without reference to court order and with a view to helping them resolve it. Mediators, interestingly, in family law, don’t have to be accredited in any way, or registered, to actually be able to mediate disputes in property settlement.

Benjamin Bryant:  Colin, you said that mediation was a voluntary and arbitration was voluntary, but can the court order you to engage in mediation or arbitration?

Colin Forrest: Well, they can order you to participate in Family Dispute Resolution, which is, as I said, that defined process. Section 13C, subsection 1B of the Family Law Act does give the judges of the courts power to order people to participate in family dispute resolution. So, they can do it in that respect. They cannot otherwise, though, order a person to participate in arbitration except by consent. Arbitration is a purely consensual process. No one can be forced to go to arbitration in family law. They have to agree. That is, the parties both have to agree for an arbitration process to take place.

Colin Forrest: Mediation. Well, I’ve always said to people when they come before me in my mediation. because I’m not a I’m not a registered family dispute resolution practitioner, though I’m a fully accredited NMAS mediator, I always say to them and I use it, I believe, to advantage by saying, no one has forced you to come here. You can’t be ordered to come to this sort of mediation. You are only here voluntarily. And that tells me you want to try and settle it today, and that tells the other party that you want to try and settle it today. So, most mediation and arbitration is consensual.

Benjamin Bryant: Thanks, Colin. I love a guest that can quote the legislation. Now let’s look to define domestic violence. What might constitute domestic violence or abuse. And I’m not going to ask you to recite sections, 4AB. But what might constitute domestic violence or abuse perhaps in a mediation or arbitration setting particularly?

Colin Forrest: Well, you’ve already told me not to quote the section, but the Family Law Act definition sections do have a definition of family violence. But what generally constitutes violence, family violence and falls within the very, very expansive definition is any action by a member of a family, usually one of the couple that make up the parents of the family, any action by one of them that hurts or causes the other one to be hurt or scared or frightened of the person that commits it. Simple as that.

Benjamin Bryant: And Colin, in a lot of circumstances, for example, if there’s court proceedings in place, the parties have already gone to great lengths in documents to try and explain to anyone who will read the documents how woeful the other parent is. But how do you recognise the signs of abuse or power imbalances if there’s no documents to give you the pre-indicator.

Colin Forrest: Yeah, well, that’s a good question, Ben.  I did give that some thought before we started today. I was going to say to you, in my mediation and arbitration practice, I generally rely on the solicitors who bring the clients to me because I don’t see clients directly without the intervention of solicitors, although I know there are plenty of mediators and arbitrators who do.  Especially FDRP, family dispute resolution practitioners. But I usually rely on the solicitors to tell me, to inform me about their client and whether there are any issues of family violence involved. If they don’t, then often it’s easily picked up in the documents that are prepared. Usually something in the document signals it. So, in answer to your question, when you’re in the presence of the parties, you usually have to pick it up or I look to language that’s used by the parties. Body language, demeanour, the way they’re behaving, all of that to tell me whether there’s some issue.

Benjamin Bryant:  And having used your mediation services, Colin, I know you do do a pretty detailed kind of intake checklist type of arrangement. So, you’re asking parties about these issues in dispute, if you will, before you actually sit down with them.

Colin Forrest: And can I tell you this Ben, in my practice and again, I know mediation practice differs from practitioner to practitioner. But in my practice, I never start the mediation with both people being in the same room. So, I do, in-person mediations and Zoom or Teams mediations When I’m doing an in-person mediation, I make sure that they’re always in a separate room, with their solicitors and a barrister if there’s one present, or a support person and I go from room to room and I spend…. The first hour of the mediation, I spend a half an hour in each room talking to them. And it’s during that time when I’m setting out to them, introducing myself and introducing the process and talking about what’s expected of them and getting to know them a bit. That’s where I, watch for those signs and listen to the language and try and pick up any indication of whether there are any issues. Now, same on a zoom mediation Straight away you put people into different breakout rooms.

Benjamin Bryant:  Heather, Colin is saying that he’s reliant on the solicitors to let him know when there’s domestic violence. Not everyone tells us that there’s actually domestic violence. Are there other ways that you might recognise that there are significant power imbalances and possible abuse or domestic violence in the relationship?

Heather McKinnon: It’s a finely nuanced sort of area, Ben.  So if you ask people the question when you first meet them, have you been the victim of domestic violence? In my experience, most people will say no. They want to retain their dignity and they don’t know you from a bar of soap, so they’re never going to share with you initially what happens.  But as Colin said, the role of the solicitor is often to spend months with the person before you’d ever get near mediation. And during those periods of time you spend with victims, if you can establish rapport and trust, you’ll often be the first person they’ve ever revealed details to.  One of the biggest areas of learning for me in the first decades of practice was that victims don’t necessarily present as sort of meek, mild, cowering figures. Often what I call the spitting cat victim will appear to be completely in control of their own life, very confident, and absolutely telling you how together they are.  So, we’ve got, really subtle investigations to do to find out what’s happened to somebody. It’s over that period of trust building that they start to reveal what they’ve been put through. So, if you suspect that someone’s been affected, what I tend to do is suggest to them that they might have some sessions with a mental health professional before they go into mediation.  And I explain to them that really healthy people, including judges, have often gone through therapy to understand what they’ve been through, and you give them permission to say, it’s all right to have a look at what you’ve come out of before you go into a commercial negotiation with someone to get a share of capital that’s going to set you up for the rest of your life. So, it’s a long process of establishing trust. But for younger practitioners, asking the question, have you been in a domestic violence situation will not get you a positive answer in my experience. It takes way longer period of time to get to the bottom of what they’ve been through.

Benjamin Bryant: That’s right. It’s not just a tick a box on a document.

Heather McKinnon: No. Correct.

Benjamin Bryant: Heather are there any circumstances where you wouldn’t actually recommend mediation or arbitration in circumstances of, say, significant power disadvantage or power imbalance?

Heather McKinnon: I tend to be on the other end of the spectrum. I think that it’s much better for victims to be in a situation with someone like Colin, than put them through the stress of a trial. So, I would absolutely suggest that mediation is the best way for victims who’ve been subjected to pretty horrendous behaviour to try and resolve a dispute, specifically because, as Colin said, he’ll meet with them individually and if he forms a view that the power imbalance is too great, he’ll normally conduct the mediation separately so that they’re not exposed to that physicality of the perpetrator. It’s an interesting field, but the other thing I would say is that by going to mediation and even getting the client game enough to sit on screen with the perpetrator, absolutely gives them a bit more resistance or resilience to go into a hearing situation. So, it’s like a test. Because often at the time of separation, they’ve had to actually flee from a really bad situation. And this might be 12 months down the track. They’ve never seen the person. They’ve built them up to be this incredible, powerful monster. And by giving them a bit of exposure in a controlled way to the perpetrator can assist them going through the trial process. Otherwise, the next time they see the perpetrator, they’re in a courtroom and they’re being cross-examined in the presence of the perpetrator. So, there’s lots of ways of managing it. And Colin’s going to tell us a bit more about that. But this area of practice takes a lot of experience and skill, but I think it needs a team approach, both the mediator, the solicitors and mental health people who are trained in trauma to really get the person ready to commercially negotiate their property settlement.

Benjamin Bryant: And Colin, if we have parties going into the controlled environment like Heather suggested, how can we be sure that any disadvantaged party is not agreeing to things because they feel intimidated?

Colin Forrest: Can I just say to you, I’ve done nearly 200 mediations, 98% of those would be pure property settlement mediations, since I left the court three years ago. I have always offered or invited the parties during my individual sessions with each of them. I say to them, I’ll convene a joint session where you all go into the same room and where you get to talk with each other, and we all talk and discuss it if you want, but it needs to be agreed on by both sides. Out of all the ones I’ve done, nearly 200, I’ve had two where the parties agreed to be in the same room with each other and have a chat. Interestingly, I say interestingly, because of most people’s views about, family violence and who particularly perpetrates it the most and who are usually the victims. Interestingly, in both those cases, they were the women that asked for the joint session. And in both those cases, soon after the session started, the men in each of them quickly asked me to end it and stop the joint session because they weren’t getting anything out of it. There was nothing happening. So that was interesting. So you can see nearly all my mediations, have been conducted where the parties do not come into contact with each other at all  and yet there’d still be definitely a greater than 50% strike rate in success of getting those mediations resolved. So, most of the mediations I do are really facilitated negotiations, shuttled negotiation, rather than the old-style mediation where people talk about their interests and what they’re hoping to achieve with each other. Which is more of the neighbourhood dispute type of mediation.

Benjamin Bryant: And to be clear, what you’re saying is because there’s separate rooms or that shuttle mediation that you were referring to, there’s less chance of that intimidation having the effect of, derailing an agreement or pushing someone into a territory they don’t want to go to.

Colin Forrest: Absolutely. That’s correct. Ben. And usually, they’ll have a solicitor with them, at least. More often than not, they’ll either have a support person and/or in some cases a barrister as well. So, they’ll have, a solicitor, a barrister and a support person. These mediations I conduct go all day, from 9:30 in the morning till 5:00, sometimes 6:00 at night. So, it’s a long, slow process. most of us have found in family law mediation, you need to do it slowly and steady. You don’t push people too far, too fast, too quickly. And you let them think about each step. And usually the people, with all that support and professional advice around them, don’t usually enter into something that they don’t wish to.

Colin Forrest: And there’s another sort of secret. Well, I shouldn’t call it a secret. It’s known to all family lawyers. Family law mediation is one of the only forms of mediation in any area of law where at the end of the day, if you reach an agreement, it’s still not legally binding. Whereas in most other areas of law, personal injuries, contract, wills and estates, once you reach an agreement at the end of a mediation and say, “deal done”, you have a binding agreement that can be pleaded in a court of law as a bar to any further proceedings. That’s not the case with family law. So effectively, at the end of the day, when people reach an agreement, they still have essentially a cooling off period until their agreement is turned into a court order.

Benjamin Bryant: That’s right. And for our listeners what Colin is referring to, essentially, is that there’s no automatic enforcement of any agreement. It would then need to be lodged with the courts, essentially, either by way of consent or perhaps you’re already, in the court system, so you’d put it before the judge. And that might be a temporary or interim arrangement, or it might be a final arrangement resolving the matter in its totality.

Colin Forrest: Yeah. Generally, people don’t withdraw from the agreements reached at mediation, but it’s possible if they need to or want to.

Benjamin Bryant: And Colin, are there situations where you would recommend against proceeding with a mediation or arbitration?

Colin Forrest: Look, I was thinking about that, and my first thought was, oh yes, in cases of really high conflict or where there is serious family violence, generally the thought is probably not suited to mediation and/or arbitration, probably because, certainly as a mediator, you have no coercive powers whatsoever. As an arbitrator, you have no coercive powers, say, for referring it back to the court. And so, if you have a situation where in, let’s say an arbitration where a witness is in the witness box and refusing to answer a question, you can’t use any contempt powers or anything like that. You don’t have any coercion. So, there are probably some cases, some where you might not, think that it’s a good idea to mediate or arbitrate. But I say this, family violence is now becoming increasingly the focus of attention from policy and law makers around the country. But it’s increasingly becoming the focus of family lawyers. And mediators and arbitrators are now trained to identify it and react to it appropriately and deal with it appropriately. So, with these mechanisms, I was talking to you about keeping people apart using Zoom/ Teams. You can even do arbitrations. I’ve done I’ve done several arbitrations via Zoom where the parties are in different towns. So, there are these mechanisms that we have of keeping people apart. So even in some cases where there is family violence, they can still be mediated and arbitrated appropriately by the right people.

Benjamin Bryant: That’s right, Colin. And the Covid pandemic, there’s some silver linings. As you’ve mentioned a few times now, using separate rooms and, rooms where the other party can’t accidentally log in, they have to be let in or even joint rooms, perhaps, and parties sitting off screen or on mute. There’s all these new things, if I could say new, things available now that weren’t available for some time. Are there any disadvantages to an online setting for a mediation or an arbitration.

Colin Forrest: Well, a couple of disadvantages. Sometimes the technology fails. Sometimes the internet connection drops out. I’ve mediated to some distinctly regional areas in Queensland, cattle stations out west, and sometimes the technology, buffers a bit slowly, you can’t hear them, or they freeze. So, there’s some technological problems sometimes but generally they’re able to be overcome.

Colin Forrest: The other disadvantage is you can’t immediately sign documents and hand them over to each other. But solicitors are very good at that these days by doing up a quick document on an email and sending it off, and electronic signatures are moving fast, and helping people sign documents electronically. Technology is just advancing so quickly that it’s reducing any disadvantage. When I’m mediating via zoom now, I don’t feel any real disadvantage to a mediation in person. it means that I sit in front of my screen like this, and I digitally walk between rooms, so I don’t have to get out of my seat. Rather than having to wear out the carpet when I’m in the same building and on the same floor as the people that I’m mediating.

Benjamin Bryant: Heather you’ve done a lot of online mediations as well. What’s your experience?

Heather McKinnon: Yeah. Look, I think it’s definitely the way to reduce people’s stress. I mean, when people are hypervigilant about whether they’re going to run into someone in the stairway or whether they’re parking their car or, if they go to the dunny, they’re going to meet their ex coming out after they’ve dried their hands. I mean, all those things are eliminated. And I think it really has been a big advantage to most people to be able to separate themselves physically.

Colin Forrest: Yeah, not only that, Heather you’d know, being a regional practitioner, it saves a lot of money.

Heather McKinnon: Yeah. I mean, just the hire of rooms, transport, accommodation, all those things mean that it’s so much more efficient.

Colin Forrest: Yeah.

Benjamin Bryant:  You did a mediation Heather last week whereby the parties, one of them, well the lawyer at least, flew from Sydney with a barrister and you’re like, what are we doing? Why are we doing this in person I don’t understand

Colin Forrest: Yeah, yeah.

Heather McKinnon: Crazy stuff. Yeah. Let alone the impact on the environment from the bloody airfares.

Benjamin Bryant: And Heather, what if we’ve asked Colin to mediate and he thinks it’s not appropriate to mediate, or perhaps we’ve gone to Interrelate or somewhere like that, and they’ve issued a certificate saying it’s not appropriate to participate in family dispute resolution. What does our listener do then?

Heather McKinnon: Well, you know, your only option if that fails, is to go to court. But the advantage, I suppose, in those really high-risk cases that are ruled out by legal aid or the mediators as not being suitable, is that when you get into the court system, they do have further highly trained mediation professionals, where we do a joint mediation within the court structure that will have a judicial officer and a social scientist. So, by the time they’ve got there, often couples have been through lots of interventions. But those, I call them “the crack teams” within the court, those are really useful at dealing with the pointy end of cases where there’s been some sort of extreme dysfunction. So, at all stages, you’re still going to be marshalled into some way of resolving it rather than the sledgehammer of the courtroom. But, as you know, Ben, sometimes the sledgehammer is needed.

Benjamin Bryant: That’s right.

Benjamin Bryant: And, Colin, we tend to think of power imbalances in the context of financial or strength-based power. What about like, disabilities or mental illness that make one party more vulnerable than the other? How do how do we address that?

Colin Forrest: Well, of course, what Heather said before is critical. Solicitors need to, and usually do, identify clients in the months that they have close relationships with them, building that relationship and getting it ready to go to mediation or getting it ready to go to court or arbitration. And they will have recommended or advised the client, referred them to go off to have some mental health therapy work with a psychologist or a social worker trained in mental health therapy. That is a good thing, and that usually helps.

Colin Forrest: But if I get to a mediation and I can see that a particular party is, clearly suffering from depression or some sort of emotional disability or inhibitor, then I have to deal with that. And, if you think it’s somehow interfering with that capacity, then you have to back off. If there are any doubts about a person’s capacity to enter into an agreement and understand what they’re doing and know the consequences of it, then you just can’t proceed. And you’d have to talk to the solicitor privately and then very delicately deal with the client and say that for good reasons, you can’t proceed today. And you’d send them off to get some sort of professional assessment about capacity. That’s very, very limited and very rare, because most solicitors will have already picked that up before it comes along to the mediation.

Benjamin Bryant: That’s right. And I guess it’s also, the support that happens in the moment, which is what I was going to end with, the support that people can bring to a mediation in particular, Colin. Obviously, they have the support of their lawyer, if they have one, or a barrister as well, if they have one. The support people though, like the layperson support, the friends, the family, that can be a little bit treacherous, if I could say that. Sometimes they’re an objective support and sometimes perhaps they’re not an objective support. In your experience, does the support person, or who is chosen to be the support person, make mediation more likely to succeed, or perhaps sometimes not succeed?

Colin Forrest: Well, it can go either way, Ben. It depends on the person that’s chosen. Critically, the best support person to have is one who has no interest themselves in the outcome of the dispute. So, the best support person to have is someone who loves the person, who’s there as a person and cares deeply about their well-being and their interests but does not have an interest themselves. Right. So, for example, the adult child who is trying to secure the parent with whom they are aligned, a far greater share because they’re keen to get it themselves one day, or they’re hoping to get a loan or an advance from the parent. That’s what I’m talking about. Their own personal interest conflicts with that of the parent that they’re there to support. If I was a solicitor acting for the client, I’d be saying, no, better off not bringing that person. A new partner. In a fresh separation, a new partner who comes along can often have interests other than the immediate best interests of the person they’re there to support. And if there’s a new partner there in a fresh break up, then it can often be like a red rag to a bull, to the other party that then causes the other party not to be so keen on settling and gets them angry. And so careful selection of the support person is necessary. So that’s where good solicitors will come in and help craft the solution to getting the right person to come along. And too many people is not good either.

Benjamin Bryant: As Heather and I say, someone outside of the vortex.

Heather McKinnon: Although guys I think knowing how Colin works, sometimes having those people in the vicinity so that Colin can speak to them. Because often as a solicitor, you’ll see that the wedge is, for example, the parents won’t let the kid who’s 40 make their own decisions. So, you might strategically have a word to Colin, or the mediator you’ve selected, to say one of the wedges in this is the way the parents are dealing with it. So, we’ve brought them along so they can be diffused, if you like, because you’ve tried every way of managing it, but it is a very important role that solicitors play to work out who needs to be in the room on the day.

Colin Forrest: Yeah, you know the case Heather where the adult child brings along their parents from whom they’ve been gifted/loaned $200,000 or $100,000. And they say this was a loan that we have to repay. And the other side says, no, it was a gift. And so, you’ve got to deal with that dispute as well as the overall property dispute.

Benjamin Bryant: And not a document in sight.

Colin Forrest: No, that’s right. You’ve got to diffuse that.

Benjamin Bryant: Excellent. Well, what a show. Thank you, Colin, for so generously sharing your wealth of expertise and experience.

Colin Forrest: That’s okay. I’ve enjoyed the discussion with you, Ben, and with Heather. You know, Heather and I were both at school in Tamworth at the same time.

Benjamin Bryant: I did hear that.

Colin Forrest: Although she was at the school on the other side of the river.

Heather McKinnon: The debating teams were very competitive.

Colin Forrest: Yes. I think we debated against each other from time to time.

Benjamin Bryant: I also want to pay special thanks to the magpie in the background there Colin. Obviously had a lot to say.

Colin Forrest: Oh, yes. Well, I actually think it might be a crow, Ben. I’m at home and we live over the road from a park with some beautiful trees. But we seem to have inherited a family of crows living on our rooftop.

Benjamin Bryant: Well, there you are.

Benjamin Bryant: Excellent. Well, subject to the crows, I think this episode is going to be invaluable for many people in the community. Wouldn’t you agree, Heather?

Heather McKinnon: Absolutely. I mean, it just demystifies the process and gives people confidence that we do know what happens in the dynamic of these families. And our job is to try and solve the problem and get them on with their life.

Benjamin Bryant: Well said.

Benjamin Bryant: Next month we are going to be doing one of my favourite formats: community questions. We started this show 50 episodes ago with a mission to empower our local community on family law matters. So, when we get the chance to answer questions directly from the local community, it just feels like we’re doing what we set out to do.

Benjamin Bryant: If you have any questions that you’d like us to answer on the program, please send them to familymatters@bryantmckinnon.com.au or message us on Facebook and we’ll try and get the answers for you. We’ll put a link to any resources mentioned in today’s show and a full transcript in the show notes on our website. And don’t forget, please share this show with family and friends who may benefit. We hope to have your ears again next month.


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