Corporate lawyers & Human Resource managers


We receive many family law enquiries from corporate lawyers and human resource managers. Set out below are the more commonly asked questions.

  • I have been subpoenaed to produce documents – What do I do?

A subpoena is a court order requiring that the recipient produce documents to the court. Copies may be produced – and we recommend that you do so to avoid originals being lost. The subpoena will name a time and place for the production of documents. Do not produce them to the solicitor issuing the subpoena. You are not obliged to produce the documents to court unless you have received reasonable conduct money to cover costs of collating, copying, and transporting the documents to the court. For further information on your rights and obligations pursuant to subpoenas, contact us to obtain a copy of a detailed seminar paper which we have previously produced.

  • Are our client’s files or employee’s personnel records privileged?

Corporations cannot claim privilege over their client files or personnel records merely because of the client or employee relationship, or because there is some form of confidentiality agreement between the professional and their client. The corporation may be entitled to object to producing the documents to court if it exposes it to self incrimination. The client or employee may have grounds to object to the subpoena.

  • One of our key employees is going through a separation. His/her performance is being affected. How long is it going to take and how can the company help?

Sydney University research shows that senior managers are no more likely to separate than the general population. Interstate or international relocation of key personnel, however, can effect relationships and be a cause in relationship breakdown.

The level of stress which a separating spouse will experience can be unpredictable. Spouses of both genders can react in widely different ways. One key indicator of the negative impact of separation is that the person initiating the separation may experience less stress than the person not wishing to separate. Other factors indicating greater stress during a separation process is the existence of children, length of the relationship, and whether the spouse has previously been separated or divorced.

Most separating spouses resolve legal and financial issues easily and within a few months. Where a negotiation or agreement cannot be reached and court proceedings become necessary, the process may take in excess of one year. The emotional impact of separation may, however, last for a number of years.

The stress of separation is likely to impact on a spouse’s work performance. Another of the consequences is that many spouses will re-assess their working lives. Separation may be a key to them to change careers. More commonly, however, separating spouses will stay in their employment longer. Their job will become an important source of stability and also income given the inevitable financial impact of separation.

  • How is superannuation – including in our corporation superannuation fund – affected by separation and divorce?

The Family Law Act was amended in 2002 in respect of how superannuation is dealt with at separation. A spouse’s superannuation entitlement can now be split and part or all rolled-over to the other spouse as fully preserved superannuation. It is important that trustees of corporate funds be aware of their obligations under the Super Splitting Legislation. Super splitting following a divorce can also be complicated by whether the fund provides for binding death benefit nominations. Trustees of corporate superannuation funds should review the Trust Deed and assess whether provision should be made for binding death benefit nominations by staff members.

  • An employee has asked whether his fringe benefits are assessable for child support by the Child Support Agency

The Child Support Agency (“CSA”), in the first instance, calculates assessments of child support based on the most recent taxable income of each spouse. The CSA will take into account all reportable fringe benefits. It will not, in the first instance, take into account non-reportable fringe benefits. If a parent is dissatisfied with a child support assessment because it does not take into account the full value of fringe benefits being received by the other parent, they make seek review of child support by the Child Support Review Office. It is discretionary, but the Child Support Review Officer may take into account the non-reportable fringe benefit in calculating an increased amount of child support.

We receive many family law enquiries from corporate lawyers and human resource managers.

Set out on this page are the more commonly asked questions.



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