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.

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Is your prenup binding?

The High Court recently made a decision in the case of Thorne & Kennedy that has overturned what many lawyers believed was the law regarding Prenuptial Agreements.

A seemingly valid agreement was found to be invalid because the wife was under undue pressure and in a poor bargaining position.

Duncan Basheer Hannon Senior Family Lawyer, Megan Dansie, says that anyone with a Prenuptial Agreement made shortly before a marriage or where there was a great difference between the assets of the parties, should have it reviewed by an experienced family lawyer.

Most Prenuptial Agreements will still be binding. However, in light of this new law, you should obtain advice about whether a new Agreement should be prepared.

This is particularly the case where one of the parties has been given independent legal advice that they should not sign the Agreement and that it was unfair or unjust.

If you have separated and feel you are bound by a Prenuptial Agreement, you should get legal advice about whether the Court may now cancel some or all of it in light of the recent Court decision.

The highly experienced family lawyers at Duncan Basheer Hannon are able to give you advice about Prenuptial Agreements and all Binding Financial Agreements, whether for marriages or de facto relationships.

If you are thinking of entering into a Prenuptial Agreement or a Binding Financial Agreement, you should get advice from an experienced family lawyer as early as possible. It is important that there is plenty of time for negotiation and legal advice before the wedding. Contact DBH Family Lawyers on 1800 324 324 or send us a message to arrange an obligation‑free appointment.

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The difference between having a psychiatric injury and being stressed – for the purposes of your legal claim

Different personal injury claims require a firmer diagnosis than others.

Personal injury claims for psychiatric injuries are not new, and are nearly as prevalent as claims for physical injuries, particularly in areas like workers compensation, child sexual abuse claims, motor vehicle accidents, and personal injury claims of many other types.


Psychiatric Assessment

In most cases, a medical assessment and report by a psychiatrist will be required to successfully pursue a claim.

The psychiatrists often diagnose an injury under the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly known as the DSM.

The DSM sets out guidelines/criteria for which particular psychiatric injuries are to be diagnosed.

Common psychiatric injuries that are diagnosed in this way include significant injuries such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety. More minor psychiatric injuries, such as Adjustment Disorder, are also diagnosed in this way.

Some assessments of psychiatric injuries are based on what is called a GEPIC assessment, or a Guide to the Evaluation of Psychiatric Impairment for Clinicians assessment.

Either are valid forms of assessment.

However, neither form of assessment recognises stress only.

Stress itself may be like a symptom of a psychiatric injury, in the way that back pain is a symptom of a back injury, or it may purely be a reaction to ordinary stressors such as work or family commitments.

Consequently, a claim for something like stress and inconvenience itself is quite rare. However a claim for stress and inconvenience is available in some limited circumstances, such as in the case of home flooding, where the negligence of another party has caused the stress and inconvenience.

Nevertheless, a psychiatric injury is required for the majority of personal injury actions, and mere stress is not enough.


If you think you may wish to pursue a claim, but are unsure whether you have a sufficient basis to make a claim, contact DBH Personal Injury Lawyers on 1800 324 324 or send us a message, to arrange an obligation‑free appointment with one of our personal injury solicitors.

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“What’s this medical assessment for?”

In your personal injury claim, you are likely to see a doctor many times, both for treatment and to assist the assessment of your legal claim; it can sometimes be confusing why you are seeing a particular doctor.

Injured claimants often have to see a number of doctors, both organised by their lawyers, and by those on the other side of the claim. These appointments with doctors, or ‘examinations’, are commonly referred to as “medico-legal examinations”.

Each time a claimant sees a doctor for an independent medico-legal examination, the doctor produces a written report which is likely to be used as evidence in the claim. If you are seeing your treating doctor they will not normally produce a report, unless they are asked to by your lawyer, or by the other side.

Different medical reports have different uses. Consider the examples of reports in motor vehicle accident and workers compensation matters below.


Motor Vehicle Accident Claim

For injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident occurring on or after 1 July 2013, the most important attendance at a doctor is for an Injury Scale Value assessment.

The Injury Scale Value report is important in determining the injured claimant’s entitlement to compensation, as the Injury Scale Value (“ISV”) score provided by the doctor will be considered by the Court to determine whether certain compensation thresholds are met, and whether the injured person is allowed to claim particular types of compensation.


Workers Compensation

In workers compensation matters there is a “once and for all” assessment, in relation to injuries arising from a workplace accident or trauma.

This assessment is called a Whole Person Impairment assessment or permanent impairment assessment.

Similarly to the motor vehicle accident scheme, a Whole Person Impairment assessment provides a percentage rating score, which sounds in different entitlements to compensation.

As these examinations are significant for a claim, the way they are arranged and the information given to the doctor can be extremely important.


If you are about to accept an appointment or arrange an appointment for an independent medical examination, you may want to obtain legal advice before the appointment takes place. DBH Personal Injury Solicitors can provide you with advice about any issue regarding the arrangement of, or an arranged, independent medical examination. You can contact Duncan Basheer Hannon on 1800 324 324 or send us a message, to arrange an obligation‑free appointment with one of our Personal Injury Solicitors.

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You never know how long you’ve got

DBH Managing Partner Patrick Boylen recently dealt with a case that highlights how important it is to get your Will in order before it is too late.  Continue reading the blog below regarding a recent case where the client had changes that needed to be included in her Will, but unfortunately ran out of time.

“The other morning I received a call from a former client.  He told me that his elderly mother had taken ill suddenly and was in hospital.  His question was quite simple, did we have her Will?  It revealed that we did, and within 15 minutes the secure packet with his mother’s Will, Power of Attorney and other documents was on my desk.  A quick check revealed that the Will was a valid Will.

I called the former client to inform him we did have the Will and it all appeared to be in order.  He told me his mother wished to make some changes, nothing significant, but changes to reflect that one of the siblings had provided significant care to mum and she wanted to be sure that that sibling could remain in the family home for as long as she wished to – a common request.  I asked the former client as to whether his mother still had her faculties and was assured that she did.

We developed a plan that the former client would talk to his mother about what she wanted to do and I would arrange a telephone call with one of our expert Wills and Estates Solicitors that day.

Sadly, two hours later I received a call from the former client that his mother had taken a turn for the worse and had passed away.

In this case the positives are that the mother had a valid Will and the family, who were all in attendance, would probably know of her wishes and, if they all agreed, would be able to enter into a Deed of Family Arrangement to effectively vary the Will.

The key takeaway from this sad story is that you never know how long you might have.  The Will in this case was made over 20 years ago and is still a valid Will.  The mother’s intentions may be changed.

It is good policy to regularly review your Will and make sure it contains your final wishes.  If it doesn’t, you need to do something now because once you have lost your ability to make Will or passed on, it is just too late”.

To book an appointment with a DBH Wills & Estates Solicitor, free call 1800 324 324, or send us a message.

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DBH recognised as a leading SA law firm on Doyles Guide

Doyles Guide is an independent guide to the legal profession in Australia with rankings compiled through feedback from in-house counsel and peers throughout the legal profession.

Doyles Guide is different to many “lawyers awards” as they are based on peer review so essentially asking our opposition lawyers who they would recommend.

I am thrilled and very proud that DBH has been recognised as a  leading SA law  firm for four categories – Motor Vehicle Accidents, Workers’ Compensation, Medical Negligence and Public Liability Law.

DBH has also had five lawyers recognised as either leading or recognised lawyers, as set out below.


Motor Vehicle Accidents


Workers’ Compensation


Public Liability


Medical Negligence


Law Firm Ranking


Visit the Doyle Guide website and see DBH’s full rankings here.

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Workplace Accidents

What is a workplace accident?

A straightforward example of a workplace accident is; you’re climbing up a ladder at work and you fall off breaking your leg.  That’s a really straightforward example of a physical injury that can be sustained in the course of your employment.  Another example is a psychiatric injury that can often appear over a period of time, serval months, and several years.  Sometimes there are things that build up over time that create a psychiatric illness in a worker, which will lead to a workplace injury.

What happens at your first meeting with a lawyer?

At the first meeting, one of my first questions will be; “have you lodged a Return To Work SA claim form?”  This is really important and it constitutes any workplace claim for any workers’ compensation.  If you have lodged a claim form has your claim been accepted?  In which case the matter is much more straightforward.  If the claim has been rejected we would need to take further steps to for example issue an application for review in the South Australian Employment Tribunal.  In addition to the claim form, I would also be asking the worker to provide any copies of any medical reports or prescribed medical certificates, otherwise known as WorkCover certificates which they have got from their doctor or another medical provider.

What is the timeframe for a claim?

The sooner the better.  Particularly if your claim has been rejected.  You only have one month from the date of the rejection to dispute the rejection of your claim.  In any event I would recommend that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible after sustaining the injury even just to gain some preliminary advice about what you should do.


If you have injured yourself at work and require advice, contact DBH by free calling 1800 324 324 or send us a message for a no obligation appointment.

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