Case Study – Family Law

Lawyer: Suzanne Paolini


Domestic violence, parenting alienation and family contributions

The Story:

Our client Sam came to us after his wife issued an intervention order against him, claiming he had assaulted her.  Sam had pushed his wife against a wall in frustration after his Wife had accused him falsely of having an affair, called him obscene names and hurled items at him, while he packed his belongings to leave.  

Shortly after he came to Aberdeen Lawyers, Sam had been charged with breach of an intervention order and had spent 2 weeks in remand.  

We attempted to negotiate parenting and property matters by consent, but the Wife’s response was that Sam was violent and so should have ‘no’ contact with the children and she would only accept a division of assets which resulted in her receiving 75% of the asset pool.  Until then, Sam had experienced a close relationship with his children.  He denied ongoing family violence, which he said was limited to that single occasion.

His Wife also sought 75% of the asset pool, in circumstances where the children were aged 16 and 10, Sam had property at the commencement of their 17-year relationship and he had also received a gift of unencumbered property from his parents during the relationship.

We soon realized that the Wife was exceptionally unreasonable and that she was determined to punish Sam for leaving the relationship by attempting to retain most of the assets, including the matrimonial home, and turning the children against him.  When he came to us, the children were not speaking to him nor spending time with him.

The Solution:

Because of the Wife’s shocking accusations, and relentless attempt to frustrate the relationship between Sam and his children, we did not waste time making written proposals to negotiate and issued court proceedings quickly.

In our application we sought orders to appoint an Independent Children’s Lawyer who could provide an objective point of view.  

Due to the Court’s cautious approach to family violence accusations, Sam’s initial time with his children was supervised for a few weeks, to rebuild Sam’s rapport with his children, who had not seen their father for 4 months and to provide an objective report by the supervisors of their observations between the Father and children. 

Soon, the children had forgotten about the Mother’s accusations and Sam was receiving hugs on their arrival and requests from them to stay longer.

The supervisor’s report established that the sessions were going well and the children were not fearful of their father.   Orders were proposed by the Independent Children’s Lawyer (‘ICL’) and accepted by the Court that unsupervised time should commence and the parties should attend upon a family consultant for a family report.  The Wife opposed this order, but the Court made the Orders that we and the ICL sought.

The family report established that Sam was calm, reasonable and trying his best to be a good father, while the Wife was working hard to alienate the children from their father and had a tendency to catastrophise events.

The family consultant recommended that time between Sam and his children increase gradually over a period of a few months from immediate overnight time at weekends, to 5 nights each fortnight and half the holidays.

Sam was happy with this recommendation, and we attempted to negotiate a settlement with the Wife for parenting orders as recommended by the Family Consultant and 60% of the asset pool (which was 10% higher than we recommended), as Sam new that his Wife was unreasonable and wished to settle without further court proceedings.

The Wife rejected both parenting and property offers and we prepared affidavit documents for trial, painstakingly providing each and every contribution and annexing the family report and supervision reports in evidence.

After a 3-day trial, the Trial Judge decided that the eldest child should live with the father on a full-time basis and see the Mother when she wished to and the younger child should spend 6 nights a week and half of all school holidays with her father.

She also awarded the Husband 60% of the asset pool (because of his larger financial contributions) which left the Wife with 40% of the asset pool.  This was 20% less than Sam had originally offered her, and 35% less than she had sought in her application.  Sam was also awarded the matrimonial home.

Can I afford it?

We appreciate that Wills & Probate cases can take a while to resolve. The costs can escalate unexpectedly, which is why at the commencement of a case, we provide you with the likely estimate of costs and guide you on your best way of minimising these costs.


Read about our client’s experiences.

We focus on working together with our clients, so that the result is one we are both happy with.

Great lawyers, highly recommended
Vjollca Dervishi
Vjollca Dervishi
When I first visited Aberdeen Lawyers I was scared and emotional, as soon as I met with Suzanne all my fears went away, she has this kind of magic to her that I can not explain. I can not whole heartdly recommend Suzanne at Aberdeen Lawyers enough! Suzanne made me feel like I was speaking to a good friend she made me feel welcomed and justified all my feelings, I was with Suzanne in my matter for a year and honestly she has become like family now. At every point in my case Suzanne walked me through it she made me laugh when I wanted to just cry. I have not met a most caring lawyer in my life and I've been through quite a few. I owe Suzanne my life. Thank you Aberdeen Lawyers- special mention to AnnMarie who went above and beyond for me also!
Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly
Easy relationship with our conveyancers as we were first time property sellers. All calls were returned in a timely manner, and settlement was made easy for us!
Sally Mannix
Sally Mannix
I first went to see Suzanne more than 3 years ago for what should have been a straight forward property settlement. I had no idea at that time just how complicated things were going to get. While I was having a lot of emotional breakdowns, Suzanne always remained calm and dealt with each new issue as they came up. While Suzanne was always professional, she was also very caring and empathetic at the same time. Her “can do” attitude and determination to do her absolute best for her client really stood out from that very first appointment. Suzanne and Vittoria were always available for a “calming” chat and, I can tell you, I needed plenty of them. Andre was very helpful and professional in dealing with another part of my property settlement, also having to deal with issues but able to get things done. I know that the reason I still have my home (with no more fear of ever losing it) is 100% due to Suzanne and her wonderful team. A big heartfelt thank you to you all, you are amazing! I would recommend Aberdeen lawyers to anyone, and I have!!!
Collette Marshall
Collette Marshall
I Consulted with Emmanuel Kefalas for my Divorce & Property Settlement. Kind, Considerate & Knowledgeable with Family Law matters. Emmanuel has a soft tone and was compassionate which made a big difference to my mental state at the time. I appreciated that he wrapped up the settlement as soon the opportunity emerged, no delays ! Thank you. I highly recommend a consultation with Aberdeen Lawyers
Jayne Cassar
Jayne Cassar
Suzanne and the team at Aberdeen Lawyers were supportive, professional, reassuring and compassionate throughout my recent emotionally stressful case. I was guided through every step of the legal process. They were by my side the whole way through. I highly recommend Aberdeen Lawyers. Thankyou Suzanne for your guidance and support.
Rebecca Shill
Rebecca Shill
Thank you to Suzanne and AnnMarie from Aberdeen Lawyers for all their hard work on my Family Court Matter. You were very professional and knowledgeable when it come to Family Law. I appreciate all the support you have given myself.
walter fiedler
walter fiedler
I highly recommend Aberdeen Lawyers, as they helped me settle a long and ongoing property dispute with a very good outcome in my favour and I could not be happier. Big thanks to Val and Suzanne
Vasanthi Christina Jayasingh Lazarus
Vasanthi Christina Jayasingh Lazarus
I went through a very difficult (to say the least) and traumatic children custody court case for 2 years. Emmanuel from Aberdeen lawyers was referred by one of my friend, who was going through his own case at the time. He too had only great things to testify about this law firm. Right from the time I made an appointment for the initial consultation, starting from Vittoria, in the reception, everyone in the law firm were very warm and empathetic. Emmanuel is a very genuine lawyer, who listens and wants the best outcome for his clients. He makes time whenever needed and is always available to discuss any aspect of the case, however small it maybe. He is always reachable and returns calls and emails promptly. The one thing that really stood out for me about him was that he never once during the whole process made any claims or promises to just make it look good or easy. I’m really grateful to him for getting us across the line with a positive outcome. He took me through every step of the process patiently and provided the much needed moral support I needed to get out of the traumatic experience. I would highly recommend Emmanuel and Aberdeen lawyers for their professionalism!!!

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