BA; LL.B; GDLP
Megan DansieP: (08) 8216 3302
Megan is a highly experienced Family Law practitioner. Prior to joining DBH Family Lawyers, Megan worked in private practice before taking up a role as head of Family Law within a prominent Commercial Law Firm. She further broadened her experience in Family Law and Mediation by working within a Community Legal Service environment. This led Megan to become the founder and mediator with the Marion Family Mediation Service. In addition to this, Megan became an instructor and teacher for the WEA where she specialised in Family Law and separation issues.
Megan has demonstrated an ability to connect with a wide cross section of clients through her collaborative and transparent approach. Her significant understanding of all types of Family Law matters – being simple or complicated, has earned her a reputation as someone who can be trusted to achieve the best outcomes for her clients. She has extensive experience in matters covering the whole range of Family Law, including acting for parties in de facto and matrimonial property disputes, children’s matters, adoption, maintenance, wills and disputed estates.
Megan is also an experienced collaborative practitioner.
Member – Law Society of South Australia
Member – Law Council of Australia – Family Law Section
Member – International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
Member – Adelaide Collaborative Law Practice Group
AREAS OF PRACTICEProperty Settlements Collaborative Law Custody Disputes Child Support Family Lawyers Family Violence & Intervention Orders Binding Financial Agreements Counselling & Dispute Resolution Pre-Nuptial Agreements Spousal Maintenance Divorce Proceedings
How to know if you’re receiving the right amount of child support
When a divorce or separation occurs, both parents still have a responsibility to support their children financially. In most cases, the parent who has physical custody of the children fulfils this responsibility by being the custodial parent and is entitled to claim child support payments from the other non-custodial parent.
It’s important to make sure you are receiving the right amount of child support so you know the costs of raising your children are covered fairly and evenly by both parents. Read on to find out how you can check if you’re receiving the right amount of child support and what you should do if you’re not.
1. Get a Child Support Assessment
The easiest way to make sure you’re receiving the correct amount of child support is to apply for a child support assessment from the Child Support Agency.
It’s important to apply for child support as soon as possible after separation because the Child Support Agency may not be able to backdate your child support entitlements.
While you and the other parent can agree to increase the amount of child support you receive, the other parent should not be paying you less than the amount identified in the child support assessment.
The Child Support system exists to provide financial support for children under 18 years of age. Find out what child support is supposed to cover.
After you have a child support assessment, the Child Support Agency will contact the other parent and let you both know how much child support you should be receiving.
The Agency will want the other parent to pay you directly if possible. Always set up your child support payment by way of direct debit to a bank account so that you and the other parent both have a record as to when and whether you have been paid.
2. Check the facts are correct
When you first get your child support assessment you should check if the incomes on the assessment are correct for your former partner and yourself. If they are not correct you should contact the Child Support Agency. The Child Support Agency usually uses the last tax return of each person to calculate the child support income.
If the child support assessment doesn’t properly take into account the actual care arrangements for your children, our lawyers at DBH Family Law can advise you how to get the correct care arrangements taken into account, such as through parenting plans, mediation or, if necessary, court proceedings.
3. Take action if the other parent isn’t paying child support
If the other parent is not paying the whole or any of your child support entitlement, you should contact the Child Support Agency every time they miss a payment. If they are a PAYE taxpayer, the Child Support Agency can arrange for their payment to be taken out by their employers. Sometimes they can also seize a tax refund or bank account if there is a child support debt.
4. Apply for an increase in child support
Child support is meant to cover basic living expenses for the child when they are in your care, such as food, clothing, public school expenses, transport costs and the like. Sometimes children have extra expenses and it’s possible to apply to increase your child support assessment to take them into account.
Our lawyers at DBH Family Law can advise you about whether you are entitled to apply for an increase in your child support assessment.
You may be entitled to more child support if:
- Your children were attending private school at separation and the other parent is not now contributing to the school fees, or you cannot afford the school fees yourself;
- Your children have extraordinary medical expenses such as if they have a disability or require braces; and
- The paying parent has financial resources or income that does not appear in their tax return, such as the ability to have many of their expenses paid through a small business.
DBH’s Family Lawyers can help you maximise your child support through your application to review your child support assessment. They can ensure all of the information needed is provided to the Child Support Agency, that the forms are correctly filled out and that your case for an increase in child support is made as clearly as possible.
When child support isn’t enough…
Sometimes child support alone is not enough to enable you to manage your living expenses in the period after separation. DBH Family Law can also advise you about your entitlement to spouse maintenance and assist you in negotiating a financial settlement with your former partner.
For more information and to schedule a first, no-obligation interview, call us on 1800 324 324 or send us your enquiry online.
Combining Family Law Courts could save time & money for Adelaide families
Currently there are two courts where Family Law matters are heard, the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court.
What is proposed?
Family law matters are generally issued in the Federal Circuit Court unless the matter is considered “complex”. The Federal Circuit Court may order a matter to be transferred to the Family Court on the basis of complexity.
The federal Attorney-General, Christian Porter, expects to improve the efficiency of the Family Law court system in Adelaide by ensuring families don’t have to move between the two courts.
Combining the Courts may help to relieve the very heavy load in the Federal Circuit Courts by opening up the Family Court to more hearings.
Why this has come about?
Mr Porter wants to improve the efficiency of the Family Court by creating a single entry point to the system. Around 1200 families a year move between the Family Court and lower level Federal Circuit Court and this can lead to confusion as to where a case should start. This leads to families being transferred between courts. The wait time for a trial in the Adelaide Federal Circuit Court can be between 12-18 months.
Family Court filing fees are far more expensive than the Federal Circuit Court fees. Due to the difference in filing fees most matters are commenced in the Federal Circuit Court.
What next and how it will affect people?
Combining both Courts may help to save time and money for people dealing with Family Law matters while alleviating the strain on Family Law judges. Mr Porter also expects to slash the annual travel expenditure incurred by judges by combining the courts.
For more information click here.
Let’s Work This Out: The Collaborative Family Law Process
Divorce is painful but it doesn’t have to be emotionally or financially destructive. When it comes to divorce and separation, there are many ways of resolving your family law matter without going through the costly, stressful and exhausting Family Law Court process. Mediation is an excellent alternative to the traditional court-based approach to family law disputes, allowing both parties to reach an agreement they both own quickly, with less tension, and often with lower legal costs.
A Collaborative Approach To Divorce & Separation
There are several sorts of mediation in family dispute resolution. With one type of divorce mediation, the parties see a mediator or, if there are children, a counsellor and the mediator who guide them through the process. It is always best to have legal advice about your likely best and worse outcomes and how to effectively present what you want at mediation before entering the mediation process.
Another very helpful style of mediation is a collaborative approach. With a collaborative divorce, lawyers assist you in negotiating and resolving your family law dispute in a positive and civilised way. With this model:
- Most contact is face-to-face so productive negotiations can happen quickly, with you, your partner and your two lawyers present (although you may choose to negotiate by letter). Occasionally, a counsellor or financial expert may help guide the meetings.
- You, your partner and both of your lawyers sign a binding agreement that outlines the scope and purpose of the lawyer’s representation: to help both of you problem-solve and reach a negotiated agreement with outcomes that meet the needs of both parties.
- You and your partner will agree not to take the matter to court or to make threats along those lines.
- Your respective lawyers will also agree not to act for you both in court should you be unable to reach an agreement.
Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
With a collaborative divorce, everything is on the table for both parties to see. This team approach is best for people who want to act in good faith, who want a good result for both sides, and who are willing to be transparent with their assets.
There are significant benefits to choosing a collaborative divorce over a traditional court-based approach:
1. No winners or losers
In litigation, the focus is on winning but with a collaborative divorce, there are no winners or losers. Instead, the focus is on the preservation of family relationships, and you and your partner work together to come to a solution that is both beneficial to your children and mutually acceptable to both of you.
2. Faster agreements and fewer legal costs
The collaborative process is all managed outside of the courtroom, eliminating the need for expensive and time-consuming hearings. While litigated cases can last from six months to several years, a collaborative divorce can be done far quicker and typically at a much lower cost.
3. Less stress and anxiety
A collaborative divorce or separation is private and focused on helping you and your partner communicate effectively with one another, as opposed to attacking each other. Your lawyers will work with you to address legal, financial, emotional and parenting aspects of divorce in a healthy way, saving you and your family a lot of grief and stress.
4. You both own the agreement
Not only will you and your partner have more control over the outcomes of the process, but you’ll decide on the terms of your agreement and settle issues based on compromise and fair play, rather than having a judge pass down the final decision.
How can DBH help with your divorce or separation?
Duncan Basheer Hannon’s team of experienced family lawyers can help you through all stages of the mediation process. We can advise you about the process and which approach is best for you. We can also assist you with strategies going into mediation, advice during the mediation process, and with recording the agreements reached at mediation in a legally binding way.
If you’re frustrated with the idea of lawyers negotiating through letters without a chance to move things forward by meeting with your spouse, collaborative mediation may be an excellent option to help you resolve your matter.
A collaborative mediation process allows you to own your agreement and build better communication as separated parents or partners to move forward productively.
Schedule a free initial consultation with a DBH family lawyer for a no-obligation chat to discuss your options to resolve children and property matters using a collaborative process.
Same Sex Marriage and Family Law
DBH Family Lawyers congratulates the same sex couples who will be able to marry following the passage of the Same Sex Marriage Bill in Federal Parliament.
The Bill was passed on 7 December 2017. It received Royal assent to become valid law on 8 December 2017.
All couples marrying must have their marriage celebrant or officiating Minister undertake the paperwork at least a month prior to the ceremony. That means that same sex couples can marry in Australia from 9 January 2018.
Same sex marriages conducted overseas are now legally recognised as valid in Australia. Same sex marriages solemnised in Australia before 9 December 2017 in a consulate office under the law of a foreign country are also recognised.
Same sex couples have for some time been able to apply for property settlements if they meet the criteria for de facto couples. The changes to the Marriage Act means that same sex couples who are married have all of the protections of the law under the Family Law Act. This includes the ability to enter into a pre or post nuptial Binding Financial Agreement.
Same sex couples planning to marry should also review their Wills. DBH Family Lawyers can advise same sex couples about the consequences of their marriage and whether any steps can be taken to protect their assets with a Binding Financial Agreement. DBH Commercial Lawyers can also provide advice in relation to Wills and Estate planning.