I need help with family law
Sometimes when a family member experiences gambling harm, their stress and financial issues may also cause tension for family members. Below you will find supportive information and resources to deal with a gambler in the family, protect loved ones and manage property and finances during these difficult times.
If you’re affected by someone else’s gambling
If a family member or friend’s gambling negatively impacts you, it’s important to seek help and protect your own wellbeing.
Gambling and relationship breakdowns
Along with causing financial issues, gambling can also affect a family member’s physical and mental health. During this stressful time, relationships can be impaired, and the build-up of these unhealthy experiences can sometimes lead to relationship breakdowns.
If you are experiencing relationship difficulties because of gambling, you can always speak to a GambleAware counsellor on 1800 858 858. It’s a free, confidential support service that can be accessed in a way that suits you.
If the relationship can’t be saved, then a relationship counsellor could help you and your partner make decisions about children, division of property and other important matters. GambleAware counsellors can help you or you can call Relationships Australia NSW on 1300 364 277 to speak to someone confidentially about your relationship.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, you can apply for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO). An ADVO works by listing things that the defendant must not do. Examples include not assaulting, no threatening, no harassing or intimidating the protected person.
You can seek help from the police to apply for an ADVO on your behalf or apply for an ADVO through the local court. For further support, call the NSW Domestic Violence Line on 1800 65 64 63.
Separation and divorce
Separation occurs when a couple decide to end their relationship. Separation can occur if either one of the couple tells the other they want to separate and the couple’s relationship changes, for example they no longer sleep together or live separate lives.
When finances are tight or children need to be looked after, it is common for separated couples to continue to live in the same property. During this time, you may need to notify Centrelink of your separation if it affects payments you or your partner receive.
After a legally married couple has been separated for a minimum of 1 year, one or both of them may apply for divorce.
Arrangements for children following separation
The safety and wellbeing of children is an important concern before, during and after family separation. If you have concerns about your child’s safety or for yourself, it is important that you let someone know immediately. You can speak to a trusted family member, friend or call Triple Zero (000) in case of an emergency.
If you need help agreeing to arrangements for your children, a Family Dispute Resolution practitioner can help parents make a parenting plan.
When it comes to child support, parents and legal guardians of children can make their own arrangements for child support payments. However, if you are having trouble working out how much you owe or should receive, you can apply to Services Australia for an assessment of child support payable.
If you have received an administrative assessment you should not sign a parenting order or parenting plan until you ask Services Australia what effect it may have on your assessment.
Services Australia encourages parents to arrange payment of child support privately. However, they will take responsibility for collection of child support if the payee receives a means-tested Centrelink benefit, or if the payer does not have a good payment record.
If you and your partner are going through a difficult time and think you may need help dividing property or protecting assets. Here you can read related information and resources.
Working out how to divide your money and property after a relationship breakdown can be stressful and will often depend on individual circumstances. A separating couple can divide their property by an informal agreement or seek legal help to prepare a binding financial agreement or consent orders.
If the couple can’t reach agreement about their property settlement, then either of them can apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for property orders. However, this can sometimes be a slow and expensive process.
Protecting real estate
Couples who own real estate usually do so as joint tenants. In these circumstances, if one person passes away, their share of the property automatically passes to the survivor, and not to their estate which would be distributed according to their will. If you would prefer that your share of the jointly owned property be distributed to someone else according to your will, consider changing the joint tenancy to a tenancy-in-common. A lawyer in private practice or conveyancer can assist.
If you’re worried that your partner might forge a mortgage or sell a property that is either registered in your name or to which you contributed financially, you should consider lodging a caveat to protect your financial interest. A caveat will prevent a sale or mortgage of the property without your consent. A lawyer or conveyancer can do this for you.
Should I make a will?
Having a will makes the task of distributing your property much easier for family or friends to sort out once you pass away.
If you have a significant amount of assets and would like to make ongoing financial provision for someone who gambles, consider establishing a protective trust in your will. A protective trust can make regular payments to the individual, or payments for special needs such as housing or medical costs.
If you are concerned about protecting your assets from someone who gambles, you should consider speaking to a lawyer who can prepare your will on your behalf. You can speak to a lawyer in private practice or alternatively, consider the NSW Trustee and Guardian, who can prepare a will, power of attorney and enduring guardian for you at a competitive rate.
Should I consider making an enduring power of attorney?
If you think you can no longer manage your own finances due to gambling, you can consider making an enduring power of attorney.
An enduring power of attorney gives you the opportunity to appoint a trusted person to manage your finances and make financial decisions on your behalf. Be sure to pick a trusted person who has a proven record of honesty and who is careful with money. The NSW Trustee and Guardian can assist you with preparing the relevant documents or even act as your power of attorney for a fee.
What is an enduring guardian?
An enduring guardian is someone appointed to make healthcare, lifestyle, and medical decisions on behalf of a person who no longer has the ability to make these decisions for themselves. An enduring guardian cannot make financial decisions on someone’s behalf.