The breakdown of a family or relationship can be one of the most stressful and emotional times in a personís life. Our family lawyers will help safeguard your needs and achieve the best results for you. Our focus is on achieving timely practical solutions that work well for you and your family.
We provide client-focused advice on a range of family law issues, including:
- "Pre-nuptial" and cohabitation agreements: the advantages and disadvantages to you entering into an agreement at the commencement or during your relationship;
- Separation: your legal entitlements, obligations and advisable outcomes, the identification, assessment and protection of assets during the separation process, how to best protect your child(ren)ís interests during the process and in the future, and how to prepare to meet the courtís requirements;
- Property settlements: family and property law, assessment and valuation of the asset pool (including shares, trusts and other corporate structures), and third party rights or responsibilities;
- Spousal maintenance: entitlements or payment responsibilities and methods to protect against future claims;
- Family safety: intervention orders, interim parenting orders and counselling;
- Children: parenting arrangements that serve your child(ren)ís best interests, abduction, long distance parenting, relocation and Hague Convention issues, concerns about violence or abuse, and DNA parentage testing;
- Child Support/Adult Child Maintenance: dealing with Child Support Agency and with applications to the courts, and the establishment of Child Maintenance Trusts;
- Wills & Estates: redrafting Wills and Powers of Attorney to take into account new family arrangements;
- Superannuation and Financial Planning: asset selection for settlements, life insurance options and splitting.
Johnston Withers has acted in the area of criminal law for over 60 years and has had a number of prominent practitioners in the area over the years. The Adelaide office together with the Regional offices can take instructions in all criminal matters. Criminal law has been subject to regular change particularly in the last 5 years and Johnston Withers is well placed to assist you in any advice you may require. We understand that no matter what the allegation, no prosecution is trivial. We look forward to being of assistance to you.
Wills & Estates
Estate planning is critical to ensure an effective transfer of your assets after your death and to safeguard your familyís financial security.
Preparing a Will is the best way to ensure that once you die your family members and other loved ones are properly provided for.
Our Wills and Estates Team can help you prepare a Will that complies with the legal requirements of the Wills Act, appoints Executors (the person who will finalise your legal and financial affairs) and is legally signed. We can also advise on ways to reduce the risk of someone challenging your Will after you die.
Our Wills and Estate Team can also advise on tax effective wills incorporating testamentary trusts, and advise on issues such as protective trusts for incapacitated beneficiaries, guardianship clauses, maintenance of minor children and provision for the children of prior marriages or relationships.
Power of Attorney
If, due to illness, accident or other circumstances, you lose your ability to make decisions for yourself because you are or you are unable to do so, eg you are travelling overseas or you are hospitalised, you can appoint people to ensure that your financial and legal affairs are managed in your best interests (you can only sign a Power of Attorney whilst you have legal capacity).
An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document which gives the person you choose the power to manage your legal and financial affairs while you are alive. If for example, you lost your mental capacity or were going overseas or required hospitalisation, signing a Power of Attorney would allow someone you trust to act on your behalf. You can give a person the power to act on your behalf, manage your legal and financial affairs generally, or you may wish to limit the circumstances in which they have power to act, for example to sell your house, to operate a bank account, to act on your behalf for a limited period of time or to control your business affairs.
Power of Guardianship
If you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself, you can also consider appointing people to act as your guardian by executing a Power of Guardianship (you can only sign a Power of Guardianship whilst you have legal capacity). A Power of Guardianship is a document that allows you to appoint a person to make lifestyle, accommodation and medical decisions for you should you become mental incapacitated and may include directions in relation to the medical treatment that you are to receive in the event that you are terminally ill.
If you have been named as an executor in the will of a person who has since died, or you are the next of kin of a person who has died without a will, the lawyers in our Wills and Estates Team will be able to assist you to administer the estate.
We can help you:
- Identify the assets and liabilities of an estate
- Obtain Probate or Letters of Administration
- Pay the debts of the estate
- Attend to asset transfers and sales
- Help attend the registration of death on any jointly owned assets (eg real estate)
Johnston Withers also has considerable experience in dealing with contested estates. We act for both plaintiffs and defendants both where the validity of the Will itself is in dispute and also where further provision is sought pursuant to the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act despite the Will being otherwise valid.
Johnston Withers has a strong tradition extending over 60 years of advising and acting for clients in relation to employment and industrial relations matters. We represent clients and present cases for them in both the State and Australian Industrial Relations Commissions and in the State and Federal Courts.
We advise clients in relation to matters such as:
- unfair dismissal,
- employment contracts,
- disciplinary proceedings,
- bullying and harassment at work, and
- wages and employment entitlement claims in the Industrial Court.
Our firm also has a long experience of acting for unions in making and amending awards before the Industrial Commission and advising as to the rights of their members.
We have been successful in achieving outcomes for clients in many high profile cases, including cases argued before the High Court. We also recognise the importance of a good working relationship for employees, employers and their families and often use our mediation skills to reach a mutually satisfactory outcome.
Discrimination and Harassment
Johnston Withers advises and represents clients in discrimination and harassment cases arising under both the State and Federal legislation. Such matters include:
- sexual discrimination,
- disability discrimination,
- racial discrimination,
- age discrimination, and
- other matters that are prohibited by the relevant statutes.
We will assist a client in carefully setting out the grounds for their application to either the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission or the State Equal Opportunity Commission, and represent clients at the first stage of conciliation conferences. We will also assist clients in presenting a comprehensive case at these conferences to ensure the best possible outcome. If the matter proceeds, we then prepare the evidence and submissions and argue the case before the relevant Tribunal or Court.
We have successfully acted for employees in the Federal Court and Federal Magistrates Court in sexual harassment and age discrimination cases. In one case a woman was found to have been sexually harassed by another employee and the company was also found to have been vicariously liable for those actions in not taking appropriate action to prevent it. Compensation was awarded to her by the Court. In another case a young employee with dyslexia was found to have been discriminated against and dismissed on the basis of his disability. It was found that his dyslexia had no impact on his ability to perform his work duties, and he was awarded compensation for discrimination.