Case Study:

Family Law

Legal Dispute

Our client, (“Alan”) came to Ezra Legal after his separation with “Jane”, which had occurred 6 weeks before our initial meeting. They had been married for 7 years and had a child, “Jamie”, aged 5. Alan, 42, worked as a mechanical engineer earning $120,000 per annum plus allowances for living away from home on projects for weeks at a time. Jane, a university lecturer, had not worked for nearly 6 years since partway through her pregnancy.

Prior to meeting Jane, Alan owned a three-bedroom house valued at about $600,000, with a mortgage of $140,000. At the time of separation the house, now worth $750,000, had a $210,000 mortgage. Alan and Jane had drawn down on the mortgage to go on an overseas holiday and replace Jane’s car with a new four-wheel drive vehicle.

Both Alan and Jane had about equal superannuation because Jane had made additional contributions towards super from the time she first entered the workforce, and her employer made contributions over and above the superannuation guarantee.

Alan’s main concerns when contacting us were:

    • seeing Jamie on a regular basis and maintaining a relationship with him given the limitations imposed on his time at home by his work commitments; and
    • retaining the family home.

Jane requested half of the house, spousal maintenance from Alan of $700 a week plus child support and for Alan to see Jamie only when she agreed. She justified her position on the basis she needed to be able to buy somewhere else to live for her and Jamie. They had agreed she would be a full-time mother and she did not want to return to the workforce after a 6-year absence. She also stated Alan could not spend regular time with Jamie because he was unreliable in keeping to a visitation schedule due to his work commitments.

Unfortunately, the case could not be settled, largely because Jane would not compromise on arrangements for Jamie and her view that Alan should continue to wholly support her while she was a full-time mother.

Our Approach

Because we are commercial specialists, we do not act in contested children’s matters. So in this case Ezra Legal partnered with lawyers who specialise in this field, allowing us to focus our commercial strengths on the split of assets. Whilst our partners prepared Alan’s custody case by organising his evidence, submitting all court documents to his best advantage, and preparing him for questions he would be asked, we made appropriate offers of settlement to demonstrate Jane’s unreasonable requests. Together, we discussed the advantages of Alan’s proposal, the shortcomings of Jane’s position and prepared him to give evidence at family court.

Outcomes for our Client

The successful custody result achieved for Alan enabled him to spend regular time with Jamie each week including overnights while he was in Adelaide, communication with Jamie every few days via webcam, including when he was away on work projects, extended periods of time with Jamie when he was on annual leave, as well as additional time at Christmas, Easter, on Jamie’s birthday and Father’s Day every year.

On the financial side, Alan was able to keep the family home by paying out Jane’s interest from funds obtained through a mortgage broker. This, and the amount of finance he required, was achieved by transferring some of his superannuation to Jane in part payment of her interest in the property.

"The team at Ezra Legal were invaluable, helping me to navigate my way through a complex and emotionally draining dispute with my Ex. They were sensitive to the situation, but also brought their commercial knowledge and experience to the table which helped me to negotiate a good outcome from a difficult situation. I would have no hesitation in recommending Michael Fabbro and his family law team – you’ll be in safe hands."

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