Going through a separation or leaving a partner can be a challenging and emotionally taxing time. And in today’s digital age, ensuring your privacy and safety on your Apple devices is paramount. If you’re finding yourself in this situation, here’s a guide to help you protect yourself and your data if you hold an Apple device:

Stop Location Sharing:
  • Navigate to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and turn off location sharing for all apps.
  • If you have shared your location with someone using the Find My app, you can stop sharing by tapping on “Share My Location” and disabling it.
Change Apple ID Password:
  • Go to Settings > [your name] > Sign In & Security > Change Password.
  • Choose a strong and unique password to prevent unauthorised access.
  • Consider enabling 2-factor authentication, if you haven’t already done so, for further security.
Family Sharing:
  • If you have Family Sharing set up, it’s essential to review what access your ex-partner has to your data.
  • Go to Settings > [your name] > Family Sharing and review what is being shared.
  • You can remove your ex-partner from Family Sharing by tapping on their name and selecting “Remove”.
iCloud and Subscriptions:
  • If you share an iCloud account and your ex-partner cancels their subscription, you may lose access to data shared under that subscription.
  • To avoid this, consider setting up your own iCloud account and unlinking any devices that are not yours.
Photos, Videos, and Messages:
  • If you share an iCloud account, your ex-partner may have access to your photos, videos, and iMessages.
  • Consider backing up your data and creating a separate iCloud account for your personal use.
  • This may not be the case unless you share an Apple ID or they have the password. It is recommended that you change the Apple ID password or create a new separate Apple ID if you were sharing one (see above for these steps).
Apple ID and Wallet:
  • Sharing an Apple ID could potentially give your ex-partner access to your bank or Apple Wallet card details.
  • It’s recommended to create your own Apple ID for privacy and security purposes.
Linked Devices:
  • If you have left a device with your ex-partner that is linked to your Apple ID, they may be able to access data stored on that device.
  • It’s best to unlink the device from your Apple ID.

Remember, these are real concerns and it’s crucial to take steps to protect your privacy and safety. If you have any questions or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Apple Support for guidance. 

In times like these, seeking professional legal advice can also be helpful. At Southern Waters Legal, we have extensive experience in assisting people through separation and can provide the guidance and support you need. Feel free to reach out to us for a confidential discussion with one of our experienced Family Law Solicitors today at 02 9523 5535. 

We are not Apple specialists and cannot guarantee these steps alone will fully protect you. This blog is meant as a guide to educate and guide you on risks you may not have considered when separating. We recommend you contact Apple support to be assisted through these steps and gain more clarity if needed.

As we approach the 6th of May 2024, it’s important to be aware of the significant changes to the Family Law Act that will soon come into effect. These amendments have been introduced to prioritise the wellbeing of children and streamline the legal processes.

In summary 4 of the key changes include:

More streamlined approach

The courts will adopt a more straightforward approach in determining the most suitable care arrangements for children by introducing a parenting framework overhaul, focusing on the best interest of the child.

A new set of factors in section 60CC will guide the court in determining what’s best for the child, which in summary provide:

  • protection from violence, abuse, neglect,
  • consideration of the child’s expressed views,
  • emotional, developmental, psychological, and cultural needs,
  • the capacity of each person with parental responsibility to provide for the child’s needs,
  • the benefit to the child of having a relationship with each parent and the other significant people in the child’s life, when it is safe to do so,
  • any other factor that is relevant to the circumstances of the child.

The presumption of equal shared parental responsibility will be removed

This important change allows the court to determine parental responsibility based solely on the child’s best interests in each individual case.

Final parenting orders can only be modified under specific conditions

Whether existing Parenting Orders have been made by the Court or by Agreement, historically there has been a particularly high threshold to satisfy the Court in relation to whether Final Orders are to be reconsidered by a Court.

The amendment offers clarification about when Final Parenting Orders may be reconsidered. While it remains that a Judge must consider if there has been a significant change in circumstances (when compared to when the Final Orders were made) it also now requires the additional consideration of “best interests” factors for the child/ren and if the matter being reopened will achieve a better outcome overall.

The ICL’s role

In circumstances where an ICL (Independent Children’s Lawyer) is appointed to represent the best interests of a child, they must:

a) Meet with the child (when aged 5 and over) ; and

b) Offer the child the opportunity to express their view (in relation to the specific matter)

While many ICL’s opted to meet with the child, now it is mandatory.

For those navigating the family law system, it’s essential to understand how these changes may affect your situation. Whether you’re involved in new or existing matters, except where a final hearing has commenced, these amendments will apply.

Should you require any assistance in your family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact us on (02) 9523 5535. We are more than happy to help, and our extensive experience in family law matters enables us to provide a high quality service designed for your needs.

The end of a marriage or relationship can be emotionally exhausting, leaving you feeling vulnerable and unsure about the future. Often amid all the stress and worry, many forget to take the time to look after their mental and emotional wellbeing.

When you’re navigating a separation, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and emotionally drained. There are a whirlwind of emotions that many experience including sadness, anger, confusion, grief, and sometimes relief. During this turbulent time, self-care is essential. This means listening to your body, getting enough sleep, eating well, and seeking support from friends, family, or a psychologist if needed.

It is crucial not to ignore the legal side of things, having a trustworthy lawyer can provide peace of mind. Knowing that your legal matters are being handled competently and efficiently can allow you to focus more on your well-being.

A lawyer can guide you through the legal processes of separation, such as property or asset division, parenting or child arrangements (if there are children involved), and support payments. Having an expert by your side can make all the difference, reducing your stress and anxiety.

Self-care example guide:
  1. Allocate Time: Try to schedule at least 30 minutes each day for self-care, just for you.
  2. Identify what helps you to relax: Make a list of activities that rejuvenate you emotionally and physically (considering activities that are realistic in terms of time and budget). This could include activities like journaling, mindfulness or meditation exercises, taking a bath or more physical things like yoga or a beach walk. 
  3. Try to be Positive: Even if you’re not feeling it, the simple act of smiling can help boost your mood.
  4. Exercise: Doing regular exercise can also assist in creating mood boosting endorphins and help to release cortisol – the stress hormone, as well as clear the mind.
  5. Reach out to others: Don’t be afraid to ask for help even if simply a regular phone call or walk with family or friends. Having a support network around you is important to avoid feeling overwhelmed and alone during a very difficult time.

While this is just a guide, try to prioritise your mental health and well-being and be kind to yourself so you can support yourself through a very stressful and emotional time. At Southern Waters Legal, we have an experienced team of family law solicitors who are ready to help, please reach out to us today on 02 9523 5535 or at info@southernwaters.com.au.

If a person has recently passed away and they left a Will, their estate could be faced with a claim against the Will. 

There are two main types of claims against a Will:

  1. Challenging the validity or making of the Will; and
  2. Seeking provision or further provision from the Will.
Challenging the Will

A beneficiary of the Will or family member may challenge the validity or making of the Will on various grounds such as:

  • The deceased person did not have mental capacity when the Will was signed;
  • There was undue pressure and influence on the deceased when they made the Will;
  • The deceased did not understand and approve the contents of the Will. 

If the Will is found to be void, then the deceased person’s estate is administered under the last valid Will (if one exists). If there is no last valid Will then the deceased will have died without a Will and the estate will be administered under the laws of intestacy. Please refer to our blog on “What happens if you die without a Will” for more information intestacy. 

Seeking further provision 

In addition to the above, a beneficiary or family member may be unhappy with the gift they were left under the Will or may have been left out of the Will entirely. In that case the unhappy beneficiary or family member may seek further provision from the estate. However, that person must be eligible to seek further provision meaning they are either: 

  • A spouse (this includes a wife, husband or person in a de facto relationship);
  • A former spouse;
  • A child; or
  • Any person who was wholly or partly dependent on the deceased and was a grandchild or member of the deceased’s person’s household.

When a claim against a Will is made, the court will look to the needs of the claimant and the other beneficiaries before making any decisions. 

Role of executor

It is the executor’s role to defend claims against the deceased’s Will, but in some circumstances it is the executor who seeks to challenge the Will. This can place the executor in conflict with their executor duties. To overcome this the executor will often be advised to step down from their role as executor before they proceed to bring a claim against the Will.

It is important that executors named in a Will seek appropriate legal advice prior to taking any steps as executors to avoid any conflicts.

At Southern Waters Legal we provide expert legal advice in drafting Wills to minimise estate challenges. We also assist executors in defending claims and claimants considering bringing a claim. Please do not hesitate to contact our estates team on (02) 9523 5535 to discuss further. 

Working as a lawyer takes several years of study, commitment, and a strong moral compass to navigate the ethical complexities of finding legal solutions.

The prevailing reason most lawyers in our team decided to study law and thereafter work as a lawyer, is to help people. It is this that drives us each day as we assist people during what is often the most challenging time of their life.

As family lawyers, we help people navigate their separation and post-separation life, working through financial and parenting issues, and the emotional difficulties that invariably stem from this. It takes empathy, problem-solving and strong communication skills to finalise any matter, as well as technical expertise.

Whilst it is not a job that is accurately reflected by the glamour of Suits, nor the suspense or drama of Your Honour or Better Call Saul, it is resolving matters for our clients in unique and practical ways that brings us the greatest joy.

It is the same for our commercial and estates team. Working to find solutions to commercial problems, or dividing an estate, is what our team is passionate about.

The reason our team specifically likes working at Southern Waters Legal is because we genuinely enjoy spending time together. We are so lucky to have a team with a range of experts across practice areas that we can rely upon. But more than that, each team member’s commitment to our shared values fosters genuine friendships between us all.

Our team at Southern Waters is hand-picked for their alignment with our firm values of:

  1. Excellence;
  2. Empathy;
  3. Team-work & communication;
  4. Can-do attitude; and
  5. Integrity

We meet to discuss how we and our team members are living those values each week.

Working at Southern Waters and being a lawyer is a privilege that none of us take for granted.

We recently posted a blog titled ‘Who Gets the Dog?’. We have received many questions about pets and how they can be dealt with. As such, we have created this blog to consider what options you have to determine your pet’s future post separation.

  1. Binding Financial Agreement

Binding Financial Agreements (“BFA”) can be entered into at any stage in a relationship – before cohabitation, during cohabitation, or post separation. A entered into prior to or during cohabitation will have the effect of pre-determining what will happen to each person’s property in the event that you separate in the future. This gives you certainty about what will happen to your assets, and you can include your pet in such agreement.

  1. Negotiate

Negotiation between the Parties directly or between their respective legal representatives is usually the first step to settle a property matter. This could save a lengthy legal battle and costs. Further, you have raised your pet, you know what is in its best interests. One option may be that the pet moves between each parent’s house with the children.

  1. Mediate

In the event that negotiation does not work, the next step is generally to attend a mediation session with an independent third party who will assist with settlement discussions.

  1. Make an Application to the Court including Orders for your Pet

In the event that your matter proceeds to Court, the Court will consider a range of factors including:

  • who purchased the pet and what the purpose of such purchase was;
  • who is the legal owner of the pet, that is, whose name is the pet registered to;
  • who cared for the pet;
  • who spent more time with the pet; and
  • who took on more of the responsibilities such as feeding, walking and training the pet.

These considerations, however, are based on who should receive ownership of the ‘property’ rather than what is in the best interests of the pet.

It is important to keep in mind that the Court has wide discretion in the Orders that it makes. The Court could Order that one party keeps the pet, that the pet moves with the Children, or that the pet be sold and the proceeds divided.

Further, the Court cannot make an Order for shared time with a pet. In Davenport & Davenport (No 2) [2020] FCCA 2766, the Court decided it could not make a shared custody order which was sought by the Husband, as the FLA provides no statutory basis for the “shared custody” of property following separation (at [38]).

Link: http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/cth/FCCA/2020/2766.html

How can Southern Waters Legal Help?

Southern Waters Legal can help in the event you require assistance with your pet custody matter or your family law matter generally. Our team of solicitors can assist in negotiation, mediation, and proceeding to Court if required. We understand that pets are more than simply “property”, they are your family.

Who Gets the Dog?

Have you ever wondered what would happen to your pet in the event that you and your partner separate? Have you gone as far as actually discussing who your pets would live with, and would it be a shared-time arrangement?

Approximately three quarters of Australian households own pets, with over $33 billion spent on pet products and services in 2022 and an average of $3,218 spent per dog per year. It is therefore not surprising that “what happens to my dog?” is one of the most common questions we get asked.

How are Pets Treated in Family Law Disputes?

When determining parenting arrangements for children, the main consideration of the Court is “what is in their best interests?”. Unfortunately, the same approach does not apply to your fur babies.

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“FLA”) provides no specific guidance to the treatment of pets in family law proceedings. Therefore, pets are treated as property and form the overall asset pool that can be divided, just like bank accounts, houses, and cars. This usually comes as a surprise to people who have emotional attachments to their pets, as opposed to their other personal items.

Further, pets are not generally valued like other possessions such as cars, boats and business interests, unless the pet is used to derive an income, such as in racing, breeding or in competitions. If pets are racing or breeding animals, they are treated as a business asset.

The position that pets are property was affirmed in the matter of Downey & Beale [2017] FCCA 316 where a couple had agreed on every aspect of their family law dispute, except for the ongoing ownership of their dog. The critical evidence was such that whilst the couple was dating but before they lived together, the husband purchased the dog for the wife as a gift and the dog lived with the wife at her parents’ house. The Court ruled in favour of the wife, declaring that she was the owner of the dog as it was purchased for her as a gift. This case shows the approach that the Court will take, in identifying pets as property that can be transferred, gifted and sold, and not as members of the family.

How can Southern Waters Legal Help?

Southern Waters Legal can help in the event you require assistance with your pet custody matter or your family law matter generally. Our team of Solicitors can assist in negotiation, mediation, and proceeding to Court if required. We understand that pets are more than simply “property”, they are your family.

When people think of addressing a property settlement in light of their separation, they often think of addressing items such as the family home, cars, bank accounts and the like. However, a less commonly considered asset that can be divided as part of a family law matter are frequent flyer points.

To the surprise of many, notwithstanding the fact that frequent flyer points do not necessarily hold a dollar-for-dollar value, they can still be considered to be an asset available for distribution following a separation.

At the outset, it is firstly important to research whether your specific frequent flyer airline allows flyers the ability to transfer points to another person. Airlines will generally stipulate in their terms and conditions whether points are able to be transferred across from one account to another, and whether there is any cap as to the number of points that can be transferred.

One reason that it can be a more difficult task to address frequent flyer points within a property settlement, is due to the fact that valuing the points for the purposes of a balance sheet can be quite difficult. It is not often that frequent flyer points have a set dollar-per-point conversion value and as such, parties are often left with the difficult task of trying to prove or evidence what they assert the estimated cash value of their frequent flyer points are.

If the parties or one party only holds a nominal amount of frequent flyer points, it might not be beneficial to include such points in the pool of assets available for division. However, if a significant number of frequent flyer points are held, it certainly may be worth trying to ascertain what their monetary value might be.

Once it is ascertained what the frequent flyer points may be worth for the purposes of the balance sheet, parties are able to negotiate their property settlement bearing in mind that such points form part of the asset pool and it may be appropriate for a portion, if not all of the frequent flyer points be transferred to the other party. Otherwise, in the event that one party seeks to retain the entirety of the frequent flyer points that they may have held in their sole name prior to separation, an adjustment may need to be made with respect to the division of the remainder of the pool of assets to the other party, to account for that person retaining all of the frequent flyer points.

Should you require any assistance in your family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact us on (02) 9523 5535. We are more than happy to help, and our extensive experience in family law matters enables us to provide a high quality service designed for your needs.

It’s possibly one of the most difficult aspects of a separation: co-parenting with your not-so-significant other. As a divorced mother of four-year-old twins, I am no stranger to co-parenting (or attempts at it). Here are some tips collated from my own experience as well as from my family law clients who are navigating the same:

1. Remember: it’s not about you

Often so much has happened between you and your ex-partner at the point of separation, and afterwards, that it is difficult to imagine your children having a positive relationship with that person. Their actions may be unforgiveable for you. But unless there are significant issues of risk and a threat to your child’s safety, very often co-parenting is about putting your issues with the other parent aside and remembering: Parenting is not about you; it is about your children. You are both their parents, and they love you both, and want to be loved and cared for by each of you.

Try to compartmentalise what has happened between you and your ex-partner, and any negative feelings you may have towards them. Instead, focus on the primary aim of co-parenting, namely, to enable your children to have a positive and blossoming relationship with both of their parents, whom they love very much. Children are often at the centre of their parent’s wrath and research shows that exposing children to conflict can have negative effects on their mental health and development.

2. Learn the art of compromise

All separated parents experience this: “sorry, I can’t do this weekend because of X,Y,Z, can I change my weekend with the kids to next weekend?” Cue red-faced me, having already planned my child-free weekend, now having to change all my plans and swallowing a response like “no, too bad”.

Remember, compromise can be your friend. In a months’ time when YOU are the one who has that event or appointment and you need to swap days or you want to spend a specific day with the children that happens to be on the other parent’s time, you will need the other parent on your side.

3. Have clear and consistent arrangements in place where possible

This is where we come in. Children thrive on clear and consistent parenting arrangements; they know what’s happening when, and Mum and Dad aren’t fighting at the school gate about who is going to take them home. There’s often a period where that’s not possible; perhaps you’ve just separated and you are trialling what works between you. That’s ok so long as when you find what works, you draft a clear and thorough arrangement that you both understand. This can be in the form of a parenting plan, or parenting Orders sealed by the Court. The key is to be detailed: detail what will happen with changeovers, how will your arrangements re-start after school holidays, have some fall-back arrangements if you are unable to agree. It is always better to be proactive than reactive.

When you both have a written document to work off, you don’t need as much back and forth between you, and it can reduce snarky arguments about who has the children when or what time pick up is.

4. Try to be open and transparent in your communication

This is really important. If you don’t communicate when school events occur, what day is sports day, when a child has a fever or didn’t go to school today because they had a stomach bug, co-parenting quite simply will not work. The best way to communicate is freely and without conflict, but that is not always possible. Many of our clients are assisted by a parenting App such as Our Family Wizard. This has a communication function and a calendar function where you can input your respective times with the children and any other significant dates. Communicating openly and transparently enables a smoother co-parenting arrangement and can reduce conflict.

5. Don’t micromanage: try to Let It Go

This one is HARD. My ex has a habit of giving the children lollies in the morning. It gets me every time. But in the grand scheme of things, a red frog is not going to de-rail their health or development, so unless there are real issues of risk I often need to tell myself to Let. It. Go.  (yes, I just referenced Frozen: four year old kids, remember).

If you allow yourself to get hung up on what the children are eating or doing with the other parent, or the other parent being 15 minutes late bringing the children home, you risk creating a breeding ground of mistrust and an unhealthy power dynamic, neither being good for an amicable co-parenting relationship. You and your ex may have different parenting styles; you also will be now leading different lives. You may well not agree on whether lollies can be given in the a.m. Equally, they may not agree on you allowing the children to eat on the lounge (guilty). But these are not issues of risk. Arguing over them can throw compromise out the window (see Tip 2), but more importantly, this can create conflict that the children will often pick up on.

Finally, go easy on yourself!

Separation is a traumatic experience, made all the more difficult when children are involved. Co-parenting is far from easy no matter how amicable the situation. Go easy on yourself. Seek help when you need it. It is hard, but trust me, it does get better.

If you need legal advice on parenting, property or divorce matters upon separation, please do not hesitate to contact us on 95 235 535. We are more than happy to help, and our extensive experience in family law matters enables us to provide a high quality service designed for your needs.

This article was written by our Family Law Solicitor, Dr Laura Tilt.

Choosing a Family Lawyer is a crucial decision, here are 5 things to consider:

1. Expertise

Ensure your lawyer specialises in Family Law. They should be familiar with the complexities and nuances of this field. Seeking the assistance of an accredited specialist in the field will ensure that you have someone with specialised knowledge.

2. Communication

The lawyer should be able to explain legal jargon in plain English and keep you updated on your case. The law is complex and a good lawyer will explain it in a way that you are not overwhelmed or lost in the process

3. Comfort

You should feel at ease discussing personal matters with your lawyer. Trust and comfort are key. It is not uncommon for us to meet clients who “just did not feel right” with their initial lawyer or who felt misunderstood. It is important to find the right fit when that person will be advocating for you.

4. Cost

Understanding the fees and ensuring there is transparency around them is really important in making any decision about who your lawyer will be.

5. Reputation

Check their track records and reviews. A good reputation in the legal community is a positive sign. It will also give you some comfort that others have been assisted by this individual.

We have a team of 7 lawyers at Southern Waters Legal who all practice solely in Family Law, 2 of those lawyers are senior accredited specialists in this area. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require any assistance in relation to your family law matter, including an initial free 15 minute consultation.

Call us on 02 9523 5535 to have a confidential discussion, or email us at info@southernwaters.com.au to organise a call back at a time that is suitable for you.