News


5000 clients have received free legal advice

MacDonald Law’s free legal advice consultation has recently reached a milestone of providing 5000 people with assistance.

The firm has been providing people with free legal advice for several years in the areas of domestic violence, family or criminal law. Clients attend at pre-arranged one on one appointments with solicitors experienced in the areas.  “These areas are especially difficult, emotional and have very serious, possibly even life changing, consequences” according to MacDonald family law solicitor, Sarah-Jane MacDonald “a lot of people need some advice but can’t afford to see a private solicitor”.

The aim of the program is to give people an assessment of their case and provide them with options as to how best to proceed in their matter. They are also put in touch with service providers that are able to assist if eligible such as Legal Aid, counsellors or other services. “Often people are so stressed out and overwhelmed that they really don’t know where to turn” Ms MacDonald said. “If they can tell a legal professional their problem in a confidential appointment where they don’t have to worry about the cost, it can literally reduce their whole stress level”.

The initiative recently saw MacDonald Law provide its 5000th client with free legal advice. The firm has a long tradition of pro bono legal assistance including the provision of free conveyancing services in over 80 contracts for the Grantham Land Swap after the devastating 2011 floods. “The 5000 clients seen at our free legal advice clinics is in addition to the firm’s provision of ongoing pro bono assistance to people such as the flood victims in the land swap” Ms MacDonald said. “Each matter is then assessed on a case by case basis for ongoing legal assistance or other support”.

For people with domestic violence, family law or criminal law issues who would like some free no obligation legal advice call MacDonald Law on 4638 9433 or email enquiries@macdonaldlaw.com.au to make an appointment. 


MacDonald Law has new Brisbane office

MacDonald Law has been seeing clients in Brisbane for several years and now our visited office has moved into the Brisbane CBD on level 27 of Santos Place, 32 Turbot Street, Brisbane.

Often colloquially referred to as the 'cheese grater' because of its distinctive design, the office is located directly across the road from the Brisbane Magistrates, District and Supreme courts and around the corner from the Family Court and Federal courts.

This new office will be able to provide a better, more convenient level of service for our many clients located in Brisbane or who have court proceedings in the Brisbane courts.

For an appointment to see our solicitors in the Brisbane office please call 3114 2222 or email enquiries@macdonaldlaw.com.au 




Family Court finds an implied consent to set aside court orders if parties reconcile

The Family Court has recently decided in an appeal that if parties reconcile after having had consent orders for division of property made by the Family Court (or a Magistrates Court) that the parties had given their implied consent for the orders to be set aside.

In the case of Waterman v. Waterman [2017] Fam CAFC 23 the Full Court of the Family Court, made up of Chief Justice of the Family Court,  Diana Bryant, along with Justices Murphy and Kent decided that it would be an unjust result not to set aside the previous orders made.

The husband was arguing that the parties had already divided property and that the order was in place and no further property division should be looked at by the court. In her reasons for judgment, Chief Justice Bryant stated that it would be a ‘curious position’ if a court did not find that implied consent had been given to set aside the previous orders.

This has long been a difficult area for people who have reconciled and then when they finally separate one partner refuses to reopen property division negotiations. At least now there is a clear position from the appeal division of the Family Court which binds all single judges of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court.

Of course, every case is different and you should obtain advice from an experienced family law practitioner.

Macdonald Law has male and female solicitors that practice exclusively in the family law and domestic violence areas and appointments are available 7 days a week. 


SURROGACY APPLICATIONS NOW LEGAL IN QUEENSLAND

Altruistic surrogacy is legal in Queensland and is becoming increasingly popular for couples who aren’t able to have a child naturally for a variety of reasons. At MacDonald Law we have seen a large increase in enquiries in recent times and we are experienced at working with people throughout the whole process including the court application required to have the birth certificate changed so that the parents’ names on the birth certificate are changed from that of the surrogate to the parents who will end have the care of the child.

The process is quite a long and involved one and will be costly despite the surrogate mother not receiving payment for her services.

COUNSELLING

All parties must have counselling with an appropriately qualified and experienced psychologist or similar prior to the surrogacy agreement being signed by the parties. This is the surrogate mother and any partner that she may have as well as the intended parents. A report must be provided prior to the surrogacy agreement being executed by the parties.

Further counselling will be required by a different specially qualified psychologist  after the child is born but before the application is commenced to the court for the orders transferring parentage.

INDEPENDENT LEGAL ADVICE

Each of the parties must receive independent legal advice prior to entering into the surrogacy agreement. This means that the surrogate mother and the intended parents cannot use the same solicitor and must seek a certificate of legal advice from different solicitors. These solicitors will need to swear affidavits as to that advice in support of the court application.

MEDICAL EVIDENCE

A report will also need to be obtained from a medical specialist in the appropriate field (for example, a gynaecologist) attesting to the medical condition that prevents the intended parents from have a child naturally.

THE SURROGACY AGREEMENT

The actual agreement is  a fairly detailed document which provides specific clauses that the surrogate mother can back out at any time, even if the child is born. The surrogate mother can decide to retain the child and the agreement specifically must state that there is nothing that the intended parents can do about this.

The agreement also provides that the intended parents must pay all of the surrogate mother’s costs, including medical costs, legal costs and other associated costs but that the surrogate mother is not to receive payment for her agreeing to be a surrogate.

The agreement also must include a clause that all parties agree to be open and honest with the child and keep the child informed as to the child’s surrogate mother and details of the child’s birth.

THE COURT APPLICATION

The application must be made to the Children’s Court of Queensland which is effectively the District Court of Queensland sitting in children’s matters. The court is constituted by a judge rather than a magistrate.

The application can only be brought after the child has been living with the intended parents for a substantial period of time after the birth and the child must still be living with the intended parents at the time of the application being filed and on the day of the actual court hearing.

The intended parents must swear affidavits which, amongst other things, provide evidence of their ability to care for the child, both financially and physically. The surrogate mother, and her partner, must also file affidavits advising that they are still consenting to the transfer of parentage on the day of the court hearing.

ORDERS MADE BY THE COURT

The actual orders that the court is asked to make in the application is an order that actually transfers parentage of the child from the surrogate mother to the intended parents.

Once this order is made and issues from the court (usually the same day) the intended parents can take the order to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages and have the child’s birth certificate amended so that it will now state that the intended parents are the actual parents and the surrogate’s name is removed from the document.

Once the parentage order is made, the surrogate mother loses all parental rights that she had in relation to the child.

SUMMARY

While the process is a long, involved and costly one, we at MacDonald Law, have seen the joy that it brings to the faces of parents who were not able to have their own children when the order is finally made and we love being able to assist people through the process.

If you, or someone that you know, is intending to go down the path of entering into a surrogacy arrangement, it is important that appropriate, experienced professionals are engaged that can assist you all the way through the process.

Please feel free to make a no obligation consultation to discuss surrogacy further with the head of our family & relationship law department, Sarah-Jane MacDonald.

 

For more information or an appointment please call 4638 9433.


Sarah-Jane MacDonald now an Associate!

MacDonald Law is pleased to announce that Sarah-Jane MacDonald has now been appointed as an associate with the firm. 

Sarah-Jane is a local Toowoomba girl and daughter of founding principal, Shane MacDonald. She has always wanted to be a solicitor from as far back as she can remember and was a keen worker in the law office in the afternoons after school as well as weekends and school holidays. 

After having been educated at Fairholme College for 12 years she then completing her law degree with a full time workload while working full time hours at the firm. Sarah-Jane was thankful that the firm is open 7 days per week as this allowed her time off during the week to attend uni while still being able to make up the hours by working in the office on weekends. 

Sarah-Jane currently heads up the firm's family law and relationships section which deals with issues such as:-

- Where children should live after separation and how much time they spend with     each parent; 

- The division of property assets and superannuation following separation; 

- Domestic violence;

- Same sex relationships;

- Surrogacy agreements and applications;

- Change of names of children; and 

- Pre-nuptial agreements. 

Being appointed an associate is the next step in Sarah-Jane's journey to one day be principal of the firm, although she may have some competition from her brother, Jag, who is also an admitted solicitor. 

Sarah-Jane is available for appointments every day of the week including weekends, and weekday evenings. 

 

 

 




And then there were three MacDonald family lawyers...so to speak

Jag MacDonald has now been admitted as a solicitor in the Supreme Court of Queensland joining his sister, Sarah-Jane MacDonald and father, Shane MacDonald in the firm of MacDonald Law. 

Principal, Shane MacDonald, commenced MacDonald Law over 10 years ago after being a partner in another law practice for several years. Both his children have followed in his footsteps and become solicitors and now work for MacDonald Law making a truly a family law practice in more ways than one. 

Shane, Sarah-Jane and Jag have all worked in the family law area and currently Sarah-Jane practises almost exclusively in that area. 

So, if you have a legal problem, not only does MacDonald Law know family law but they also know families and the issues that can arise in relationships generally and family businesses in particular. 

MacDonald Law's office opens seven days a week and principal, Shane MacDonald, is pleased that he now has two other family members who are lawyers so that they can share the weekend trading hours. 



Sarah-Jane, Shane and Jag MacDonald


MacDonald Law supports the Stroke Recovery Trial Fund

MacDonald Law has been proud to assist and support the Stroke Recovery Trial Fund in the set up as a charitable legal entity and also support the recent launch of the appeal for funds to make the stroke recovery trial a reality.

If you would like to donate or like more information please go to the website;

strokerecoverytrialfund.org 




MacDonald Law team taking on Mud, Sweat and Fears

MacDonald staff have teamed up with USQ Works Fitness who are providing a personalised boot camp to prepare for the upcoming Mud Sweat and Fears event to raise funds for Lifeline Darling Downs & South West Queensland.

The event involves a 10 kilometre trail with many obstacles including climbing over nets, a jump off a 5 metre tower into icy cold water and crawling through muddy pits.

The MacDonald Law staff have been very grateful for the great personal training that they have been receiving out at USQ Works. Thanks to Shelley, Elly and the team.

MacDonald Law is also currently taking donations of blankets for the Lifeline winter blanket drive. These can be dropped off at our office at 361 Ruthven Street, Toowoomba 7 days a week as the office is open. 

 

 



The MacDonald Law training for Mud Sweat and Fears.