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Q & A with Senior Associate, Damira Hidic

Published August 3, 2017 by Ashlee T. Bowman
Damira Hidic

Senior Associate, Damira Hidic

Jones Mitchell Lawyers are proud to welcome new Senior Associate, Damira Hidic, to our team.  Damira is an Accredited Family Law Specialist and a Collaboratively Trained Family Lawyer, recommended by the peer-rated, international Doyles’ Guide for her expertise and abilities as a family and divorce lawyer on the Gold Coast.

Damira has shared below what she is looking forward to in joining the team at Jones Mitchell Lawyers, why she enjoys Family Law and how she likes to work with her Clients.

What are you looking forward to in joining the team at Jones Mitchell?

I’m looking forward to working with a great team at Jones Mitchell, given the amount of experience of the people within firm and the reputation the firm enjoys.  I’m also looking forward to assisting the clients, existing and new, with their family law matters, getting to know them and providing them with the best service possible to meets their needs.

What do you enjoy about Family Law?

I really enjoy the variety within Family Law. At Jones Mitchell Lawyers, I specialise in complex property and parenting related family law matters.  My experience includes international family law cases which provided me with the opportunity to work within other legal jurisdictions and see how Family Law is applied in other countries which is interesting.  It’s a very stimulating challenge to formalise agreements that involve international assets and trust structures.  Working with cases that involve the relocation of children both interstate and internationally is also very satisfying.

 What is your goal for Clients?

My goal with all Clients is to tailor a legal solution to meet their specific needs and requirements rather than trying to fit a traditional legal solution to their situation.  As a Collaboratively trained family lawyer, I will always try to resolve family law matters outside of the Court Room where possible.  Collaborative Law allows the unique concerns or wishes of clients to be addressed in a way that often can’t be addressed in a Court Room setting.  I want Clients to feel empowered with options for resolving their family law matter with an outcome that addresses the client’s needs and interests.

How do you like to work with clients?

I like to get to know my clients and understand their motivations, why they want what they want, so we can work together to determine what is relevant for them. From there, we can build a strategy to deliver a result, within the Law, that meets the interests and the needs of the Client.

Learn more about Jones Mitchell Lawyers’ Senior Associate, Damira Hidic.

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Four tips for THRIVING not just SURVIVING after a property settlement

Published July 13, 2017 by Ashlee T. Bowman

During divorce proceedings and property settlements many people go into ‘survival’ mode.

At Jones Mitchell Lawyers’ we consider a positive property settlement to be one where our client’s journey and outcome takes them from ‘’survive’’ mode to “thrive” mode.

Here are 4 tips to help you get back to “thrive” mode after your property settlement.

1. Choose the right family lawyer from the start

The relationship with a family lawyer is a unique one. It is a ‘relationship’, as this person will have information about you, your finances, and your family, and you will be relying on them to help you throughout a difficult period. You should therefore choose a lawyer who is a good fit for you, and who you feel you can work with, as a ‘team’, even during challenging phases of your separation. Don’t expect to find that person by looking up the phone book or following an advertisement. As family law can be complex, you will need a lawyer who is experienced in family law. A skilful family lawyer should be able to give you a good sense of the law, and different approaches to your particular case.

2. Gather information and keep records

The more information you can provide to your family lawyer, the more targeted the advice you will be able to receive from them. If you or your spouse are separating, agree between you that you should each copy bank and financial records (tax returns, financial statements, loan agreements, bank statements) and provide that information to your family lawyers. Detailed financial information will be invaluable to your lawyer, and will help them in providing you with clear advice, at an early stage in your case.

3. Consider mediation and other alternatives to litigation

If you and your spouse can work together to come to an early resolution, you should consider approaches to settling your differences without having to go to Court. There are many pathways available to couples to resolve separation issues that do not involve Court proceedings. These include the collaborative process, mediation, arbitration and early neutral evaluation. The benefit is that these alternative approaches can potentially see a case brought to an end in months rather than years, saving couples significant legal costs. These non-litigation approaches often leave their relationship with their spouse intact, which is important where young children are involved and where there will be an ongoing relationship as ‘parents’.

4. Get help for ‘you’ during the family law process

A skilled family lawyer will be able to give you clear guidance about legal issues which arise during the separation, and help you achieve an outcome. At the same time, it’s important to get help with non-legal issues, such as any stress and anxiety you are feeling because of the separation. Your family lawyer will be able to refer you to experts who can help. To understand the advice you are receiving, and make important decisions, your ‘self-preservation’ is key. While we all cope with separation differently, many clients have been supported through their separation by seeing a counsellor or divorce coach to help them remain focused and energised, and able to advance through their separation quickly.

For more information or for advice on how we can help with your property settlement, contact Jones Mitchell Lawyers today.

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Social Media and Separation: the Do’s and Don’ts

Published July 11, 2017 by Ashlee T. Bowman

Social Media and Separation generally don’t mix well.

Jones Mitchell family lawyer, Joelene Seaton, advises, “While it may be tempting to vent emotions and frustrations on social media, people need to be aware that anything they post is considered a public document even if they have tight privacy settings on their account.

“Social media posts, text messages and emails are all admissible in Court and can be used as evidence of financial status, poor parenting, infidelity or even an excessive use of social media. A Family Court Judge may consider social media content relevant to their decision in a parenting or a property settlement matter.

“Under current legislation, Section 121 of the Family Law Act it also makes it an offence to publish (including by electronic means) any material that may identify a party or parties in proceedings before the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court. There is also a mirror provision in Section 159 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act in respect of domestic violence proceedings before the Magistrates Court” Ms Seaton said.

Jones Mitchell Lawyers recommends the following “Do’s and Don’ts” when separating:

Do

  • Be aware that whatever you post on social media is PUBLIC AND PERMANENT even on accounts with tight privacy settings your posts, comments, photos, shares or likes all have the potential to be available permanently. They can be saved, screen-shotted, printed or forwarded or a cached version of a deleted post or comment could also be still be available.
  • Use caution, discretion and excellent judgement when posting or commenting on social media when you are in the midst of separating. Ask your close friends and family to also be prudent about their comments or posts as they could potentially be used if they relate to your separation.
  • Change your passwords and protect your digital equipment with passwords, so they can’t be accessed by another party.
  • Make sure what you say or portray on social media is consistent with what you are saying or portraying in your separation negotiations.
  • Where possible discuss with your ex-partner and agree how and when you might share information that indicates your separation on social media.

 

Don’t

  • Don’t delete your accounts as it could be considered destruction of evidence
  • Don’t access your partners social media accounts or phone– even if you were given the password in the past, it is considered illegal to access someone else’s password protected account and any ‘evidence’ you may find in this way could be inadmissible in Court or used to discredit you if obtained in this way.
  • Don’t overshare – do you want your, potential future partner and/ or their family, or a potential future employer or your children and their friends being able to read all the details of your separation five or ten years from now? It will make it easier for you to leave this difficult time in your past if you don’t make a public record of it.
  • Don’t publish anything negative about your partner, as it may be tantamount to domestic violence.

 

“We advise clients to, ideally, not use social media at all when going through a separation.  However, if they are using social media to consider first whatever they post, like, comment or share could be taken out of context and read by a much wider audience then ever intended not just now but well into the future.” Ms Seaton said.

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Jones Mitchell’s workshop with Potts Lawyers

Published June 28, 2017 by Ashlee T. Bowman

Jones Mitchell Lawyers’ Belinda Paterson and Olivia Jennar-Bryant recently held a very successful workshop with Potts Lawyers.

Lawyers from both firms were able to exchange information relating to their area of expertise and gain a greater understanding of each other’s specialty areas of law as they can overlap in some cases.

Potts Lawyers presented to Jones Mitchell Lawyers on the process involved with domestic violence proceedings and the relevant considerations in making or defending an application for a domestic violence protection order.

Olivia Jennar-Bryant and Belinda Paterson delivered a comprehensive presentation addressing specific questions that Potts Lawyers had relating to the intricacies of domestic violence orders on family law proceedings particularly in terms of the impact on parenting matters and property settlements.

Representatives from both firms found the workshop highly engaging and relevant, “It was so helpful to be able to openly discuss the overlap between family law and domestic violence aspects and understand how steps taken in domestic violence proceedings for example, can impact an individual’s family law matter and vice versa.” Ms Jennar-Bryant said.

This workshop follows another very successful session with Joseph Box, National Head of Forensic Consulting at Grant Thornton, who presented to Jones Mitchell Lawyers on best practice when advising clients in relation to complex corporate and trust structures.

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Bond University and Jones Mitchell Lawyers internship program comes full circle

Published June 28, 2017 by Ashlee T. Bowman

Ruiqi Bai and Ailsa Day

Jones Mitchell’s Associate, Ailsa Day, has been with the firm since 2009. Initially as one of the first of about 50 students who have interned one day a week for a semester as part of Bond University’s Family Law Legal Practice Clinic.

Things have come full circle and Ailsa is now a supervisor of students from the Family Law Legal Practice Clinic at Jones Mitchell.  For current intern, Ruiqi Bai, the family law legal practice clinic is a great opportunity to work with senior family lawyers.

“I have learnt so much from Ailsa Day (Jones Mitchell family law associate) and it’s been great putting into practice all I have learnt at Bond University and apply that knowledge to real people with real problems.

“It has been particularly useful for me to observe and learn from senior family lawyers how to communicate with clients who are managing their own emotional state and help them with their expectations.” Ruiqi said.

Ruiqi’s aim has always been to practice family law and she’s had an interesting journey on her way to Bond University.

Growing up in China, Ruiqi studied English through primary and high school and enrolled in an undergraduate degree in Public Administration with a minor in Law at Chongqing University, she spent a year at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada furthering her English skills while studying a Bachelor of Arts and returned to China to complete her degree with a view to post-graduate Law at Bond University.

“I was interested in family law as I want to help people who are in a vulnerable or disadvantaged position in family law matters and help them out of unhappy situations,” Ruiqi said.

The time spent studying in Canada gave Ruiqi a great insight into the huge differences in the education systems in the eastern and western world and she has been pleased to utilise the excellent opportunities and resources at Bond University.

Ruiqi will graduate with a Master of Laws in a few weeks, in the meantime she is gaining great family law experience in a very positive environment at Jones Mitchell Lawyers and enjoying the lovely Gold Coast weather and lifestyle.

“Everyone at Jones Mitchell have been kind and patient and happy to give productive feedback, the family law legal practice clinic has been really worthwhile” Ruiqi said.

For Ailsa Day, supervising Ruiqi this semester has been thoroughly enjoyable, “Ruiqi is an amazing student, I admire her courage in applying and accepting her placement at Jones Mitchell Lawyers, especially as English is her second language. She put in 110% effort with all the tasks I have set her and seems to have an understanding that quality is better than quantity.

 

 

“I try to provide the students I supervise with an overview of family law and how it works on a practical level. They have the knowledge theoretically but that is quite different to family law in practice. I also try to give them interesting tasks they can see the result of during their time with us. I feel this helps them to assemble the blocks of knowledge they have on a theoretical level and put them into practice.

“I love the enthusiasm of the students in the Family Law Legal Practice Clinic, especially Ruiqi, and to be able to pass on some of the knowledge that I have learned over time is a privilege,” Ms Day said.

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How to avoid a costly divorce

Published June 28, 2017 by Ashlee T. Bowman

The true cost of divorce isn’t just measured in dollar figures but also the emotional toll and lost time for both parties.

Divorce proceedings that end up in a Court room increase the stress for separating couples and also increase the risk of an unfavourable outcome for one or both parties.

Outcomes in family law cases are discretionary and are therefore difficult to predict. Theoretically, ten different judges can determine the same case in ten different ways, without any of those decisions being ‘wrong’.

Separating couples have many options available to them to resolve their dispute outside the Court room through alternative dispute resolution, according to Jones Mitchell Lawyers Family Law Associate, Ailsa Day.

“Mediation, early neutral evaluation, arbitration and collaborative law all offer separating couples an attractive alternative to Court with the aim of resolving their matter with minimal conflict, delay, stress, cost and risk,” Ms Day said.

“Divorce is a time of great emotional upheaval and change, which can result in conflict between family members. How these changes and conflict are resolved can influence a family’s adjustment to divorce.

“One of the great strengths of alternative dispute resolution is both parties still have a voice in reaching a resolution rather than feeling like a bystander with Solicitors and Judges deciding on crucial issues that will affect the rest of their and their families lives,” Ms Day said.

“With alternative dispute resolution, even in the face of anger, fear and hurt, it is possible for people to be guided to negotiate an agreement balancing the interests of each family member and benefitting everyone in the long term.

“If alternative dispute resolution is pursued at an early stage in a family law dispute, it can potentially see a case brought to an end in months rather than years, saving couples significant legal costs as well as emotional distress,” Ms Day said.

Here are Jones Mitchell Lawyers Top 4 approaches for avoiding a costly divorce:

1. Mediation

  • Mediation is a co-operative problem-solving process where a neutral professional assists family members in clearly defining the issues in dispute and reaching agreements that are in the best interests of the family.
  • The Mediator guides the communication process so that everyone has a chance to be heard and personal feelings can be put aside. The mediator does not make decisions for the family but helps members of the family make the decisions.
  • Mediation agreements are usually written up by the parties and the Mediator as an informal working agreement and then filed with the Family Court as a Consent Order. When agreements are incorporated into a Consent Order they are legally binding but are more flexible than Court ordered solutions and may be varied by mutual agreement as the needs of families and children change over time.

2. Collaborative Law

  • In a Collaborative Law approach, lawyers and their clients work in a co-operative, open way to reach a fair settlement. Both parties consent in a written participation agreement to be part of a collaborative process, to not go to Court and to be respectful of each other through the process.  Crucially, both parties retain control of decisions rather than handing them over to a third party like an arbitrator or a judge.
  • Through a series of face-to-face sessions both parties have an honest exchange of information and expectations on matters such as parenting and finances. Financial and family experts can also be part of the process to help come to a resolution.
  • The objective is a durable solution that both parties can adopt, and which has low impact on families and relationships. The outcome can be documented in a binding legal agreement, just as if the parties had gone to Court.   More information on collaborative law can be found at Queensland Collaborative Law.

3. Arbitration

Arbitration is very similar to going to court although the main advantage over Court is participants can choose their arbitrator and a resolution can usually be reached much sooner and less expensively.  However, arbitration can only be used in particular circumstances:

  • Both participants must agree on arbitration. A Court can suggest that arbitration is appropriate, but cannot order the separating couple to arbitrate.
  • The participants can only arbitrate on disputes about property, spousal maintenance or other financial issues. Disputes about children cannot be arbitrated.  Disputes over property with third parties (e.g. creditors or relatives claiming a share of the matrimonial property) cannot be arbitrated.
  • If you choose arbitration, the arbitrator’s decision is final. There are only a few circumstances where the arbitrator’s decision can be reviewed by the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court.
  • Once the arbitrator makes a decision, an Arbitral Award is registered in the Family Court. This has the same effect as an Order of the Family Court.

4. Early Neutral Evaluation

Early Neutral Evaluation involves couples jointly engaging an independent evaluator (usually a retired court judge, barrister, or senior specialist family lawyer) to assess the case, and ‘predict’ the outcome which would be a likely result for them in a real-life trial situation.  The separating couple can decide whether they adopt the evaluation, or look to use other forms of dispute resolution like mediation or arbitration.  If parties do not reach an agreement using this approach, participants can work towards mediation or arbitration before they consider Court litigation. ENE is usually a stepping stone before deciding which path to take i.e. another form of alternative dispute resolution to reach an agreement or going to Court.

 

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Why I find Family Law professionally satisfying

Published June 21, 2017 by Ashlee T. Bowman

Joelene Seaton has chosen to exclusively practice in family law over the last 12 years and is a Senior Associate at Jones Mitchell Lawyers.

“I really enjoy the opportunity in family law to help people through a very challenging time in their lives.”

 

Here are Joelene’s top 5 reasons why she loves being a family lawyer at Jones Mitchell:

1. I like helping people move on, and even improve their lives.

2. I enjoy helping people to see there is usually a ‘better way’ to look at things.

3. Family law can encompass many different areas of law, so it’s a varied speciality area from a lawyers’ perspective.

4. Every case is unique and the diversity of cases keeps things fresh and interesting.

5. Getting the chance to practice in multi-disciplines including negotiations, mediation, arbitration and litigation.

“Being part of the team at Jones Mitchell brings great professional satisfaction as we are all focused on getting the best results for our clients, not just legally but holistically.”

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