Family Trusts – How are they treated in family law property settlements

Family Trusts have often been used as an effective means of protecting assets from creditors and implementing tax minimisation strategies.

Following separation, issues can arise as to how the trust is treated for the purposes of a family law property settlement.

When considering an application for property settlement the court has a wide discretion to make any order it considers just and equitable, having regard to several factors including financial and non-financial contributions.

To assess these matters the Court firstly needs to establish what the assets of the parties actually are and what property is available for distribution between them. This task can often be made more difficult where there are family trusts involved.

A family trust will be considered property for the purposes of a family law property settlement. The court has the power to look into the trust and determine what are the assets of the trust that may be available for distribution between the parties.

When examining a trust, it is important to consider:

  • the terms of any trust deed – who is the appointor or principal of the trust, who is the trustees and beneficiaries;
  • where the trustee is a company, who has control of that company?
  • what exactly are the assets of the trust and how were they acquired and financed.

It is therefore important to ensure that full and frank disclosure has been made and that the trust deed and all associated documentation is obtained in relation to any interest the parties or a party have in relation to a trust.

It is difficult to quarantine a family trust from a property division. Even where attempts have been made to move assets around or change the trust arrangements the court will have the power to consider who ultimately has or has had the control of the trust and who is to benefit from that trust.

For example where a Husband is the director of a corporate trustee and is also the appointor and beneficiary of the trust his interest is likely to be considered property. If, however, the Husband together with his father were directors of a corporate trustee and the Husband’s father was the appointor, it may be that any property of the trust is not classified as property of the Husband.

If you require assistance with a property settlement matter, please contact our experienced family lawyers cairns team today.


Australia: same-sex marriage survey votes YES

The past few years have seen a global revolution when it comes to marriage; specifically, old laws that forbade marriage between two people of the same sex have been overturned and enabled these couples to have the same rights and legal recognition of heterosexual couples. Following the example of countries like the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany, the people of Australia have now voted by referendum to legalize gay marriage.

On September 15, 2017, the country’s government revealed that 61.6 % of Australians had voted in favor of legalizing gay marriage, with 38.4 % voting no. The voter turnout was rather high: around 12.7 million Australians had their say, which is about half of the population of the entire country. In other words, the outcome was decisive. This result was not entirely unexpected – many earlier polls showed that most people were for legalizing gay marriage.

What about those who weren’t, however? The “Vote No” camp was populated largely by those who objected to gay marriage on religious grounds, as well as people concerned with “traditional values” and those with conservative views on homosexual relationships. A leader of the “Vote No” movement, Lyle Shelton, felt that legalizing gay marriage would expose children to “radical LGBTIQ teachings” in classrooms, for example. People in his camp also worried that gay marriage would infringe upon their freedom of speech, feeling that stating their views could be penalized as hate speech. One prominent opponent of gay marriage was former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who campaigned against his sister’s right to marry.

Overall, however, the country is jubilant. The happiness over the results of the referendum has been tempered slightly by criticism of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party. Detractors say that the Parliament should have taken heed of earlier polls that showed the country was largely in favor of legalizing gay marriage. That way, they say, the country could have saved the $122 million dollars expended in organizing the vote. It seems likely that the Prime Minister did not want to be personally responsible for legalizing gay marriage (probably to avoid controversy), instead deciding to put it to the people.

Of course, the law still needs to be put into place to allow weddings to occur – a referendum of this type is not binding and, as Lyle Shelton has said, the whole thing is a “two-step process.” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he hopes the law is on the books by Christmastime. There’s no guarantee this will happen, but it seems to be safe bet that a law will be passed by Australia’s Parliament sometime in the next couple of months. Things could be complicated, however, due to the time needed to hammer out the fine details of the law with regards to things like “religious liberty,” the provision that people who are religiously opposed to gay marriage will not be forced to perform homosexual wedding ceremonies.

Book reviews

[Book review] A Home for Christmas

Dr Janice Thornton leads a lonely life, especially during Christmas. She finds herself at the doorstep of her mother’s childhood home, at the request of her uncle, to find Blake Ferguson, a handsome bachelor. Could she find happiness in taking over her uncle’s medical practice at Angel Ridge?

The story unfolds as Janice explores her uncle’s medical practice to see if she could leave behind what she knows and start afresh, and carpenter Blake goes about trying to win Janice over, and finds himself having to dismantle the walls she has built around herself. The magic of Angel Ridge work between the pair and the outcome remains to be seen.

This book receives a 3/5 star rating.

The story of two lonely souls who come together over Christmas and find love and happiness is great for a light read over the holidays. The town of Angel Ridge is a beautiful setting for a Christmas romance, with the town’s angels casting their magic. Watching Janice and Blake bond over the Christmas lights is a treat indeed.

Despite the cute romance, however, there are quite a few qualms about Blake’s character. It is understandable that he has issues with his family, but he comes across as a bit of an abuser. For instance, his anger at Janice for spending time with her dying patients is quite unjustified, and Blake is shown to have expressed this anger on more than one occasion. His grudge on his brother too, flared up towards the end of the story, when Blake’s brother came to Janice asking for help since his wife had taken ill. Following this, Blake began to beat him up and called his supposed love interest names without even asking for a justification. This was an impulsive and brash move on Blake’s part, and it was disappointing to see that the fight was not even shown to have been resolved fruitfully.

All in all, A Home for Christmas is great for a light read, but does not contain a lot of thought provoking instances.


‘Me too’ Campaign: Women across the world share experiences of sexual assault and harassment following Harvey Weinstein scandal

Something a little different from me. While I usually like to stick to book reviews, family life, DIY, I had to comment on a recent event.

The Harvey Weinstein Scandal is one of the biggest sexual abuse scandals to have ever hit Hollywood. With the cases of Bill Cosby causing concern, the outrage that has come with Harvey Weinstein is bigger, giving the voiceless a chance to come out. With cases of sexual assault coming up once in a while, more cases are usually kept silent as most victims are victimized by their abusers. However with the film industry involved this time with known women who are respected by many as victims, the ‘Me too’ sexual abuse campaign has been born.
The ‘Me too’ campaign which is primarily on social media has raised awareness of sexual abuse all round the world. With twitter having the post being re-posted millions of times, the #metoo is not ending anytime soon. However Facebook offering more characters for its users to write, everyone is giving a listening year by users. This way all victims who have never had a chance to voice their sexual assault experiences get the opportunity to detail their worst nightmares.
The sexual abuse campaign grew even bigger with actress Alyssa Milano posting the Me too campaign from twitter, promoting it on Facebook, as was suggested in the light of Harvey Weisteins sexual assault behavior coming to light. In the twitter post it stated “ By offering a platform to all victims, we are giving people a sense of magnitude of how big the problem is”. To make the sexual abuse campaign bigger men actors have also given heir voice, with the likes of Javier Munoz saying “ If you have ever been sexually harassed/assaulted use ‘Me Too’. “
Alyssa Milano who stars in “Charmed” with Rose McGowan, one of the alleged victims of rape spoke up on a personal level, disgracing the film producer that have mounted against Weistein. In a blog she stated “ I am angered and sickened by the sexual assault accusations levied against Weinstein. Using his position and coming up as a sexual predator due to his power is just disturbing. However I am happy and ecstatic that this has given way, for talk about sexual harassment to be discussed in the public”.
With a number of celebrities joining the sexual abuse campaign, police have officially opened investigations against Weinstein both in the USA and UK. Still with actresses such as Lysette Anthony, Lucia Evans and Asia Argento coming out saying they have been raped by the bigwig Hollywood producer, some truths have come out even with Harvey Weinsteins continued denial. With bigger names such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Kate Beckinsale stating they have been sexually harassed by the producer, the “me too” campaign has shown that it can happen to anyone. However with well known actresses getting their voices, it has come out that Harvey Winstein has reached an out of court settlement with up to 8 women in the last month alone. Still Harvey remains adamant of his actions, stating that he has never had any sexual relations with any woman without consent.
All in all with one of the biggest names in the film industry now exposed, the ‘me too’ sexual abuse campaign is giving confidence to all women around the world, to no longer fear and remain silent.
Book reviews

Book Review: Across The Universe by Beth Revis

When you first come across the title “Across The Universe”, you immediately know that this book is definitely out of this world, like literally. You immediately start picturing aliens, spaceships, astronauts and all that kind of stuff. Well, a spaceship is definitely there. Even though you might not get much in terms of astronauts and aliens, some spaceship romance might make up for that a little.

For a super-hyped sci-fi, dystopian, YA novel, there isn’t much room left for the imagination. You may run short of Ahaa! Moments since most of the twists and turns we have encountered before. Let’s see; an unfortunate situation arises, boy meets girl, boy saves the girl, boy helps the girl to try and figure out what went wrong, sounds familiar?

But then again, that doesn’t mean that it is all boring and mundane. One aspect of the society that this book clearly brings out is racial profiling. You will definitely relate to Amy on this. As for Eldest and Elder, that is a story for another day. This book deserves a 4 out of 5 rating based on the strong moral awareness it posses.

Book reviews

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Novella: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being A Ghost Story of Christmas
Author: Charles Dickens
Original Publication Date: 19 December 1843
Length: Roughly 84 pages

My summary: We are all rather familiar with the spin-offs but do you really know what happened when Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by four ghosts that Christmas Eve night?

My say: As is usually the case the book is much better than any rendition I have ever seen. It is short, rather simple, and contains some lovely language.

My verdict: If you are looking for something both fantastical and seasonal, pick up this piece. It is a quick easy read.

Kiddie-o-meter: While this story is much darker than the Disney version (there are minor references to poverty, starvation, illness, death, malice, and theft) I truly believe the message is more powerful in its original classic form. Note: Younger children will probably not understand the language. Therefore reserve this one for the tweens.

My favorite part:
The introduction of two minor characters I can not recall ever seeing or understanding before: Ignorance and Want.

My favorite quotes:

  • …”No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused!”
  • “It is fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow , there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour.”
  • “…For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”
  • …”He was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset…”

My final say: Mr. Scrooge handles his ghostly visitors much better than I would. I would have a MAJOR freak-out if I started seeing faces in my door knocker.

Book reviews

Book Reviews: 13 Little Blue Envelopes & The Last Little Blue Envelope

2¢ worth: I don’t smoke. These books have nothing to do with smoking. But I feel like I smoked them because I just about inhaled them. From the moment I opened book one (13 Little Blue Envelopes) and read the first letter that kicks off Ginny’s journey through Europe, I was hooked. I had to know. I had to know where she went, what she would find, and what happened to her vibrant 35 year-old aunt. Book one moves really fast, bouncing from city to city and letter to letter. It’s quick but not choppy. Ginny is on a mission and it was almost impossible for me to put down. Book two (The Last Little Blue Envelope) was more about closure. More about Ginny going back (more mature and sure of herself this time) to finish things that she had started and get answers. Would I recommend these? Absolutely. Try book one when you need something fast and fun. Then if you’re like me and don’t want to fill in the blanks on your own, grab book two.

Word to the wise: Book one was initially meant to stand alone so it very well can if you don’t wish to go on. Book two needs book one.

Whippersnappers: While there is no sex or foul language, there is some minor mentions to sexuality, sexual orientation, nudity, drugs, and death. There was also one dicey scene in book one where I held my breath until Ginny was out safely.

Wrapping: The girl on the covers is just too put together and cool for me. She’s pretty but doesn’t suit my mental image of the shy slightly nerdy Ginny. That was (especially in book one) part of her charm.

Wondering: Ginny gets to visit some pretty amazing places. So I’m wondering, what city is #1 on your list of places to see?

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Reasons Why You Should Read Love Like the Movies

1. Think about your favorite romcom (romantic comedy). Now think about what makes it your favorite. Maybe it’s the tension, humor, or romance? Now take all those reasons and pour them into a book cover. Don’t forget to sprinkle in a bit of madcap and some super aww moments. Close the lid, shake it good, and read it. That’s what you get with Love Like the Movies.

2. Have you ever seen any of these movies? Well Kenzi in Love Like the Movies has to reenact scenes from these films. Nice right?

3. Basically Love Like the Movies is awesome. It’s romcom for the romcom lover’s soul. If you’re like me and have fallen behind on romantic comedies, don’t fret. Most of the film references, as you see above, are from when Kenzi was younger.

Wee Print: There are mentions to infidelity, a few minor profanities, and one sweet undetailed sex scene.

Well said:

  • “The world doesn’t always make sense, but in a good romantic comedy, I’m guaranteed a happily ever after.”
  • “Some people require subtitles.”
  • “Choosing is the act of living with purpose.”
  • “Just like Cinderella: it always comes back to the shoes.”
  • “I hear Patrick Swayze’s line from Dirty Dancing. No one puts Baby in a corner. And nobody puts Kenzi in a tire. Or a marriage. Or their version of what my life should be.”
  • “Lauren’s friend in the movie says, Don’t choose the better man, choose the man who makes you a better woman.”

Warning/Side effects: Reading Love Like the Movies may make you…

  1. Miss video stores
  2. Reignite your forgotten passion for romantic comedies
  3. Wish you too could reenact movie scenes
  4. Hope someone turns this into the best romcom movie ever
  5. Itch to rewatch all these movies and then some

Now go buy this book then come back and tell me which from the list is your favorite and who would play you in the movie version of your life? I’m thinking America Ferrera for me but I’m not sure who could play Mr. Whimsy.


Pride and Prejudice Madness

My beloved followers, I regret to inform you that I may or may not be a bit infatuated with Pride and Prejudice. What can this mean you ask? Ever since I finished the novel Pride and Prejudice, I can do more than watch spin-offs. How can this be you ask? Well I’m watching the 1995 BBC P&P mini-series with Colin Firth and slowly making my way through The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I’m also rewatching Lost in Austen. Plus, I recently revisited Austenland. Not to mention I’m still finishing the audiobook. It’s madness. I know it. I can’t seem to stop. I was at the library to pick up a copy of the Bridget Jones’s Diary and the 2005 P&P with Keira Knightley when I came across another book I added to my wishlist: The Pursuit of Mary Bennet. I can’t be the only one that was rooting for the bookworm, right? I can’t say when I’ll emerge. At some point I should burn out and need a break right? In the meantime I’m taking notes, comparing stories, and having a fun time picking my favorite Darcy and Darcy wanna be. One day I promise a fun post(s) comparing them all. In the meantime, I feel as though a whole new world has been opened up to me. Once you really know their story, it’s hard not to see them everywhere, isn’t it?

So tell me, do you know of any film spin-offs I’ve neglected to mention and should look up?