Attwood Marshall Lawyers Legal Practice Director Jeff Garrett joined Robyn Hyland on Radio 4CRB to talk about the top 5 legal issues that can come up during this busy time of year. It is important to know where to turn if the unexpected happens and you need legal advice.
1. Family Law Disputes
Christmas time often brings issues to the surface for couples who have had a strained relationship throughout the year. Being home more during December and January, in addition to the pressures bought on by the rising cost of living, interest rate hikes, and other financial strain, Christmas can be the breaking point.
Christmas time also tends to be when many separated parents fight about who their children will spend Christmas with, or if they will go on holiday with one parent or the other. Disputes over children are never easy and when parents are unable to come to an agreement between themselves, it is important they are supported by legal professionals to ensure the children’s best interests are protected and decisions can be finalised.
For those in the middle of an ongoing family law dispute, these matters do not simply pause because Christmas arrives. It is common for many former couples to argue over property settlements into the new year, hoping to finalise their divorces and family law proceedings to start the new year with a clean slate.
Unfortunately, families affected by domestic and family violence also tend to see these issues exacerbated over Christmas, as families come together for extended periods and potentially over-indulge in drinking and other risky activities.
For anyone facing domestic or family violence it is important to know that there is still support available throughout December and January. Help lines such as 1800RESPECT offer confidential information, counselling, and support services 24 hours a day to support those in need.
Our family lawyers are also available to provide advice right through December and into the new year, which is often needed when people are facing separation and want to understand what will happen to their children and custody arrangements, how their property and assets will be divided, or if family violence is an issue, how to obtain protection orders to stay safe.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers have a 24/7 phone line to help people who require urgent assistance, even on public holidays. To speak to the team about a family law matter, call 1800 621 071.
If you are in immediate danger, please call 000.
2. Buying and Selling Property
Even though the rising interest rates have put a slight damper on the property market, the market remains relatively strong across the Gold Coast, Brisbane, and Northern New South Wales, particularly for prestige real estate.
Queensland has experienced the highest numbers of interstate migration over the past couple years, the most significant increase since 2004, and there are no signs that this will be slowing down.
It is expected that over the next five years an estimated 220,000 people will leave the southern states and relocate to Queensland. The most common reasons people are looking to move to the Sunshine State are to take advantage of the housing affordability, lifestyle, and climate.
With plenty of interstate visitors spending Christmas in Queensland, they may take advantage of their time here and peruse the property market.
Summer is a great time to buy property, and there are many avid house hunters watching the market eagerly ready to secure a property when more stock becomes available.
Our Property Lawyers will continue to be available over the Christmas break throughout December and January to help people with sale or purchase contracts and ensure they get the right legal advice before signing. We are also on deck to make sure there are no delays to settlements!
3. Family Deaths
Sadly, a common trend observed at this time of year are deaths. We would like to predict that this year will be different, but as the new year approaches, and COVID cases peak just before Christmas, there will be families saying goodbye to a loved one.
Losing a loved one at Christmas time can be extremely difficult and there are additional issues to navigate with many businesses and government organisations closed during this period.
Although most businesses close over the festive season, particularly on the public holidays, funeral homes remain open. There are always dedicated funeral directors on call to help people who are dealing with the death of a loved one. A funeral director will help make arrangements for the funeral, even at Christmas time.
We generally tell people faced with a family death not to panic about bills and other minor issues. Most businesses will understand the situation and know that settling these matters can take time following someone’s death.
The most important first steps to take are to locate the deceased’s Will, which may help identify their wishes and if the deceased had a pre-paid or pre-arranged funeral plan, and to contact a funeral director.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers have a helpful checklist available online to help people who are dealing with a deceased estate understand what documents and information they need to collect early on.
Timely reminder: this Christmas, talk to your loved ones and find out where they store their Will, or let them know where your Will and other important documents are stored, so that if anything unexpected ever happens they know where to locate this important information.
4. Accidents and Injuries
Traffic congestion and travel reduced over the last few Christmas periods as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and cross-border restrictions. However, this year it is business as usual, and many people will be eager to travel.
Unfortunately, with additional traffic on the roads, it can increase the number of road accident injuries and fatalities, and we historically see motor vehicle accidents and CTP claims increase at this time of year.
The most common causes of car accidents are speeding, distracted driving, driving fatigued or driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and unfortunately these issues tend to worsen over the festive season. Christmas is also leading into storm season which can make our roads an extremely dangerous place.
Work related injuries and illnesses are also prominent at this time of year. That may come across as a surprise given that many businesses close or reduce their operating hours throughout the holiday season. The rule does not apply to all and there are certain sectors that experience the busiest trade throughout December and January, including hospitality and tourism sectors, health care providers and first responders, and transport and courier services. For the workers pushing through, they may be experiencing extra pressure which can lead to an increased number of injuries and work-related illnesses, including burnout and psychological conditions.
Public liability accidents are also prominent at Christmas time with more people attending public events, Christmas parties, or travelling and staying at alternative accommodation and venues. Accidents do happen, and when they do, it can be helpful to get advice quickly about potential entitlement to compensation for your injuries which were caused due to the negligence of someone else.
It is for all these reasons that our compensation lawyers are always on call and continue to take enquiries throughout December and January. We understand that when you have suffered an injury in a motor vehicle accident, work accident, or public liability accident, that you will have concerns about how to obtain the treatment you need to get better, and what financial security you will have if you cannot work as a result of your injury.
We offer free initial consultations to assess your case and advise you of your prospects of successfully making a claim.
5. Estate Planning
Seeing in a new year can be a time that prompts people to get their estate plan done. Estate planning is a task that many people kick down the road, with good intentions to get their legal affairs in order, but never making it a priority.
December and January are busy months for our estate planning lawyers who are helping people draft their most important legal documents, including a Will, Enduring Power of Attorney, and Advance Health Directives.
This is often prompted by people wanting to get these documents done ahead of travel plans or medical procedures they have booked in.
People always feel relieved once they have finally taken the step to get their documents drafted, knowing that their family will be protected, and everything is in order if something unexpected happens.
Timely reminder: If you have not yet done your estate plan, add it to your new year’s resolution list! Make sure you see an estate planning lawyer who specialises in this area who can create a personalised plan and ensure your unique family circumstances are considered when drafting your Will.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers – we are here to help you with all your legal needs, including during the festive season!
With expert teams covering most areas of law, Attwood Marshall Lawyers can assist you. Whether you have been involved in an accident and sustained an injury, are dealing with a family law dispute, are involved in a dispute with an individual or business, are buying or selling property, or simply want to update your Will, our team of highly skilled lawyers continue to remain available throughout the Christmas period. Please do not hesitate to call us on 1800 621 071.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas, safe holiday, and happy new year as we wrap-up 2022.