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Guest Blog: Jennifer Hetherington, Mediator and Family Lawyer, Queensland

January 29, 2018

Well, what a stellar guest blogger I have today!

I first met Jennifer Hetherington when we both served on a committee for the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. When I say met, we didn’t actually meet in person for some years but rather exchanged emails and were voices across a conference call line during committee meetings. When I finally met Jennifer in person, it was like a whirlwind came through my office. What a dynamo! She practices out of Queensland where she is an award winning family law specialist, a mediator and Collaborative Professional.

Before Christmas, I blogged about the difficulties Australia’s anti-same sex marriage laws posed to those same sex couples who had married in NZ but wanted to divorce. Jennifer kindly agreed to write a guest blog from “the ground” in Australia where she writes the first same sex marriages are taking place along with the first same sex divorces.

Thanks so much Jennifer!

SAME SEX MARRIAGE LAW NOW ENABLES DIVORCE FOR COUPLES WHO MARRIED IN NZ (Jennifer Hetherington, Hetherington Family Law)

Australia’s historic same sex marriage laws has finally resolved an unexpected quandary faced by same sex couples who were legally married in New Zealand but move to Australia.

Until Australia made same sex marriage legal, same sex marriages in New Zealand were not legally recognised in Australia (see last month’s blog).

A consequence of that meant couples who married in New Zealand and made the jump across the ditch and now wanted a divorce in Australia were in a legal limbo – their marriage was not recognised in Australia and they could not get a divorce as they were no longer domiciled in New Zealand.

Everything changed on December 9 when same sex marriage became legal in Australia.

The law means same sex marriages in New Zealand, are now legally married in Australia which also clears the way for couples who seek a divorce.

Until December 9 you couldn’t divorce in Australia until our same sex marriage legislation was passed. The irony is that while you could not divorce you could do a property settlement as a de facto couple (with potential greater rights than in New Zealand!)

While Australia embraces a wave of emotion to welcome same sex marriage, the prospect of our first same sex divorce is closer than you might think.  Even before the first same sex marriage took place a Perth couple had engaged lawyers and are set to become the first same sex couple in Australia to divorce under the new laws.

Australia’s marriage equality law change now brings our country into line with international thinking.

While Australians are celebrating the legalising of same sex marriage we have to acknowledge the fact that, as with many relationships, it doesn’t always work out.

It now means some of those people who flew to New Zealand to be married under their same sex marriage laws are now able to apply for same sex divorces in Australia.

You can learn more about Jennifer Hetherington or contact her at her website here.  Jennifer is an award winning specialist family lawyer and mediator. Her firm, Hetherington Family Law, is based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. However, she grew up in the City of Sails (Auckland!) before jumping across the ditch in her teenage years and will always remain a loyal All Blacks fan. 

Jennifer and thefamilylawyer.co.nz’s Selina work closely together on matters where couples have property in both Australia and New Zealand.

 

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