Court

“You can not get divorced in a day”: Gold Coast Law Firm calls out misleading message

FAMILY lawyers offering catchy gimmicks such as ‘divorce in a day’ or ‘divorce hotels’ may be creating unrealistic expectations and long-term problems among separating couples, according to a Gold Coast law firm.

Accredited Family Law Specialist Cassandra Pullos, of Pullos Lawyers, says the ‘divorce in a day’ concept, which has drawn recent media focus, sends the wrong message to separating couples.

“It suggests a quick fix remedy. Divorce your partner and move on, all in a day. Out with the old and in with the new – simple consumerist rhetoric that pays no regard or respect for the complexity of human relationships,” she said.

“The reality is a lot more complex than that and to suggest otherwise is not only a gimmick but dangerously misleading.”

Ms Pullos said various family lawyers here and interstate were promoting ‘quick fix’, cheaper divorce processes which generally focused only on “getting a divorce” as if it were the same thing as “getting a burger”.

“You can’t get ‘divorced in a day’ in this country,” she said.

“To suggest otherwise to people unfamiliar with the law is misleading. You have to be separated for a minimum of 12 months to ‘get a divorce’.

“You can certainly sign the necessary paperwork the day after the 12 months expires – you will then be divorced on a final basis about four months later, after the Court has reviewed your application and satisfied itself of the factors required in the Family Law Act and after a final “cooling off” period of one month.

“That has been the law in Australia since 1975 – and it hasn’t changed.

“As for the untangling of the practicalities of a relationship, such as the dividing up of property, superannuation and financial investments, arrangements for any children and so on- these are life decisions that are never made in a day, at least not without the risk of later regret for hasty decisions made for emotional reasons and without proper advice.

“Similarly the idea of a ‘divorce hotel’ where a couple check-in for a weekend and thrash out an agreement and ‘divorce’, all pre-supposes the two people are already in agreement on all matters.

“This marketing concept has been around for some years and used in other countries,” she said.

Cassandra Pullos PHOTO: Supplied

Ms Pullos said the allure of a fast decision and settlement within a day may appeal to those seeking the quick fix solution but the process of separation and divorce was far more complex and needed to be thought through to prevent complications later on.

“A divorce involves a process of grief and loss,” she added. “The key throughout is to make informed decisions. You can’t rush to a decision then have second thoughts six months after the documents are signed.”

“A divorce means you are making decisions that could be irreversible and certainly will have lifelong consequences for you, your ex-partner and your children.

“You don’t generally make a decision in a single day to get married or commit to a life together. It takes time to develop a relationship with your partner leading to that commitment.

“If the relationship breaks down it also takes time to process the emotion on a personal level so that you can make wise and informed decisions on a legal level about your children and your finances into the future.

“Those decisions have to last a lifetime. When do you ever make lifetime decisions in a day?

“My 32 years of experience in working with couples going through the life transition of relationship breakdown tells me loudly and clearly that couples want, generally, to be able to separate in a way that is future and child focused with appropriately qualified and experienced professionals to help them make wise decisions that will support their new life as a separated family.

“That takes time, and the seeking of wise counsel from trusted advisors in law, finance, children’s needs, communication and emotional and psychological health.

“Much as we would all like to take a magical pill to make us happier, thinner, wealthier, sexier or separated – the quick fix simply does not exist.

“Separating couples do want alternatives to a big, long, expensive, nasty Court battle in which, usually, neither side ‘wins’.

“Those alternatives are available, mediation and Collaborative practice are two of them. ‘Divorce in a day’ is not one, or at least not a safe one.

“Those genuine alternatives are respectful, future and child focused, problem-solving approaches that also take commitment, patience, and maturity from both the clients and their lawyers and other advisors.

“They also deliver better, positive, outcomes.”

Ms Pullos said the benefits of couples controlling the divorce process in a respectful and co-operative manner were widely known now and practised internationally.

“All of these processes take time,” she said. “Sometimes a short time, others longer, but almost never in just one day. There’s a reason for that, to ensure people make informed decisions for their future.”

“Just like life, relationships and their endings are a journey, not a destination to be reached in a day.”

Fast-talking at the Fish House

Tony Cochrane has a reputation as a straight-shooting, fast-talking, can-do guy who won’t take no for an answer. The widely respected head of London-based entertainment consulting company IEC, charismatic showbiz entrepreneur and mastermind of the V8 Supercars phenomenon could choose to live anywhere in the world… but he lives here on the Gold Coast simply because, like so many of us, he loves the lifestyle. 

Of course this makes ‘TC’ – passionate chairman of the Gold Coast’s Suns AFL club – the perfect fit for this series of think-tank articles that serve to inspire people and help define a direction for our great city. 

It has been said that Tony Cochrane can be all feather and finesse, or sledgehammer and sharpened saw when conducting a deal. It’s absolutely true: he once stayed at Frank Sinatra’s office for a week in his successful bid to entice the late, great “Ol’ Blue Eyes” to return to Australia after he swore he’d never visit our shores again.

Some said at the time that swaying Sinantra from his self-imposed exile just couldn’t be done – such was the strength of the great man’s resolve – but they hadn’t factored in Cochrane’s own powerful determination.

In fact, so impressed was the legendary crooner, he affectionately labelled the former Angels roadie “The Kid”, and returned once more with Sammy Davis Jr and Liza Minelli.

“Tony Cochrane is a man of influence,” says Gold Coast restaurant revolutionary Simon Gloftis, who is deservedly credited with leading the re-emergence of our city as a genuine destination for discerning diners. “Tony is someone who is not afraid to voice his opinion and he’s passionate about the changes that need to take place to ensure the Gold Coast can truly have a presence on the world stage. He’s got a lot of passion – and amazing foresight.”

Interviewing the fast-thinking Suns chairman against the beautiful backdrop of Burleigh beach, at the invitation of Gloftis, is equally as entertaining as it is exciting.

He doesn’t hold back.

Supplied by Brian Usher / Ocean Road Magazine

Supplied by Brian Usher / Ocean Road Magazine

“What we need is a Minister for the Gold Coast,” declares Cochrane. “Someone who encourages new ideas rather than regurgitates them. The fact is that we now live in the shadow of Brisbane – we have to break away from that Brisbane nexus and address the fact that whenever our city needs something, we have to go cap-in-hand begging to George Street. This city deserves serious muscle around the Cabinet table – we need to be able to cast our own net and visualise the dichotomy of everything that makes the Gold Coast a really cool place.

“Sure we have beaches, but so does everywhere else – we also have a great lifestyle, strong tourism, world-class education and healthcare, national sporting teams and entertainment.”

There are many issues to be addressed as the Gold Coast prepares to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, in particular effective and sustainable infrastructure like transport and large-scale venues, as well as a serious review of the way the city markets itself nationally, and internationally.

“We’re kidding ourselves saying we are Australia’s events capital and that we are giving Melbourne a run for its money,” he says. “We are not a capital city, we are the Gold Coast – the Miami of Australia, not a New York or Los Angeles. It’s true, we are unique in many respects but there are so many other destinations around Australia and the world where tourists can go. We need to stop ignoring professional advice.”

And the airport? “Look at places like Amsterdam…or for that matter, Townsville or Cairns. What we’ve got here is a tin shed – it’s the first thing people see when they fly in, and the last thing they see when they fly out … drenched because we don’t even have aerobridges!”

To be fair, adds Simon, the bridges are coming.

“But they’re not here now – and you know, there’s not one good reason why the Gold Coast does not have a cruise ship terminal. Just imagine the economic boost if we have 20 big boats a year dropping 1500 tourists in town – we should be a major cruise ship destination like Miami and Fort Lauderdale but the minority groups are running the agenda.

“Honestly, look at the survey that found 78 per cent of people were in favour of a cruise ship terminal, and then there’s the 22 per cent who still can’t come up with a valid reason why it should not happen.”

And Brisbane’s cruise ship terminal redevelopment? “Please!”

Cochrane also expresses dismay at the missed opportunity to build a 10,000-seat venue on the Coast as a legacy of the Commonwealth Games.

“Some call ourselves the events capital of Australia but we haven’t even got a venue to stage a concert for a quality international act. What we have got are two 5000-seat stadiums being built right next to each other at Carrara and one already at the Convention Centre – but the capacity is too low for them to draw quality acts like the ones going to Sydney and Brisbane. Who is doing the bigger thinking? Thankfully, (Mayor) Tom Tate gets it – but he needs lots of support.”

Asked about the proposed Evandale Cultural Precinct, Cochrane is hesitant.

“We need to spend our money wisely,” he says. “The current plan makes me a bit nervous – I’m concerned it’s not a big enough space.”

Supplied by Brian Usher / Ocean Road Magazine

Supplied by Brian Usher / Ocean Road Magazine

No-nonsense Cochrane, of course, is not new to rattling his sabre in the corridors of power – he’s doing exactly that as an AFL visionary and chairman of our Gold Coast Suns. He’s now spearheading a push to join Port Adelaide in forming a closer relationship with China by staging training camps and playing a competition round in Shanghai.

“I admire Port Adelaide enormously for raising the bar in this respect,” he says. “It’s courageous and exciting. We most certainly want to be the side the plays them there when it happens – the Gold Coast has direct flights to and from China and the tourism is starting to come through in waves. We can’t afford to that for granted – we need to capitalise on what is a great opportunity.”

It would be remiss not to mention the business acumen of the Suns chairman, who purchased the Australian Touring Car Championships in 1996 for $52,000, and turned it into a $305 million sporting empire with feature races like the Clipsal 500 and Sydney 500.

On the day of our chat, V8 Supercars had just announced it would drop the V8 from its brand, and eventually allow six-cylinder vehicles to vie for the championship.

“You know I left the organisation four years ago now and I still have some good friends there,” Cochrane admits. “But I do not understand that strategy at all. They’ve taken a globally recognised name and removed the one thing that makes it truly aspirational. Fans love the loud, noisy V8 engines – taking away the V8 ruins the aspirational aspect of the sport and potentially digs it into a quagmire from which they might get bogged.

Today, Cochrane heads the Suns and he says he is finding great collaborative support from Gold Coast Tourism and accommodation houses, who are helping to encourage people from the southern states to come and stay and play on the Gold Coast for a minimum of a long weekend, enjoying the football, the beaches, the dining and everything else the city has on offer 365 days a year.

But he says the expense and convenience of staging major sporting events on the Gold Coast needs to be addressed.

“Did you know that at the moment it costs more money per head to run Metricon Stadium at Carrara than it does to run the Melbourne Cricket Ground? That’s because the State Government has control. We must be the world capital of expensive stadiums.”

And then there’s access to transport…“The parking at Metricon will improve marginally in time for the Commonwealth Games but the long-term solution is a light rail spur line from Broadbeach out to the stadium,” he says. “I mean, really, why isn’t this happening yet? We’ve got major sporting events in two years time and it’s got the potential to be disastrous if people can’t even get there on time.”

Left: The discussions flowed freely about the future success of the Gold Coast. Right: A simple serve of Fish and vegetables was on the menu. | Supplied by Brian Usher / Ocean Road Magazine

Left: The discussions flowed freely about the future success of the Gold Coast. Right: A simple serve of Fish and vegetables was on the menu. Supplied by Brian Usher / Ocean Road Magazine

Of course dining is also part of the big-picture ‘dichotomy’.

“To be honest we have five or six fantastic restaurants here on the Gold Coast – such as The Fish House, Fellini, Hellenika, Palazzo Versace… and then we fall off a cliff,” he says. “It’s slowly changing but gone are the days of the 70s and 80s when the tourists come, eat and then we push them out the door – they want a broader experience, like Aspen.”

Which brings us to Simon Gloftis, whose intricate research and proven ability to identify and then successfully fill gaps in the culinary market are unquestioned. He has just returned from a three-week study tour of Europe and China, fine-tuning his next venture.

Everyone who knows you knows you are working on something – are we there yet?

“I’m closer,” he says with a grin. “I’ll let you know when.”

This article was authored by Shane Watson and originally appeared in Ocean Road Magazine. It has been republished with permission.

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The Last Word….with Steven Ciobo

steven-cioboSteven Ciobo has been the Federal Member for the central Gold Coast seat of Moncrieff since he was first elected 15 years ago. His electorate takes in the city’s major hubs of Southport, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, and also extends west to Nerang and south to MermaidBeach and Miami. Steven’s background in law and commerce saw him build a professional career as an executive in top international firms, before standing as the Liberal Party’s candidate in Moncrieff for the first time in 2001. Having served on both the benches of opposition and government, Steven’s political career has taken a number of different turns, which this year saw him become the city’s first Federal Cabinet Minister in 35 years. As a local member, Steven has been a fierce advocate for the Gold Coast. He has a strong understanding of the importance of small business to the local economy and is committed to delivering for his community.

You’ve been a Member of Parliament for 15 years now, what are some the highlights?
It’s a privilege to serve our community and stand up for the Coast. It’s a huge responsibility and I’ve never taken it for granted. Being able to secure important infrastructure and services for the Gold Coast has been the highlight. I was especially proud to fight for and deliver more than $400 million to widen the M1. Securing support for the Commonwealth Games was another big win for the city, the Federal Labor Government wouldn’t commit to this vital funding so I was delighted to able to deliver $156 million when the Coalition was returned to Government. On top of that I worked with the Gold Coast Suns and delivered $15 million for their new training and administration facility at Metricon Stadium. The Suns will be in their new facility by the end of the year and it’s looking great. Securing funding for the second stage of the light rail was another big win for the Coast, I was pleased to have beeninvolved in lobbying the Prime Minister to make this happen. Another thing I’m especially proud to have fought for and delivered are the Coast’s two medical schools. Last year I was so pleased to be able to declare the Queensland Korean War Memorial at Broadbeach an official Memorial of National Significance, something the veteran community and I had worked towards for many years. It was a very special day to
Last Word feature – Ocean Road Magazine spend with them, as I knew just how much it meant to our local veteran and Korean communities – and the significance it holds for future generations.

What are your priorities for the next three years?
I’ll be working towards the continued growth of our tourism sector – the Gold Coast’s biggest employer. The Coalition has delivered record growth in our tourism industry, and I want to make sure we capitalise on new investment and increased visitor numbers in our region. Tourism is already Australia’s largest service exporter. On current trends, spending by international tourists will overtake our coal exports this year to be second only to iron ore exports. Tourism has been identified as one of five ‘super sectors’ to drive Australia’s prosperity into the future. I’ll be working to ensure we maximise this opportunity to drive economic growth for the city’s small businesses.

What do you love about the Gold Coast?
Everything! The people, the places and the picturesque surrounds we live in. We’re blessed to live in the best part of the country, and I reckonthe world. From our beautiful beaches to the lush rainforest in the hinterland and everything in between the Coast is such a magic place. The only thing better than our beautiful surrounds are the people who the call the Coast home.

How can we make the most of the next few years, as we build momentum towards the Commonwealth Games in 2018?
We need to make sure our small business sector is supported and thriving. Without a doubt, it’s our small businesses that will shine during the Commonwealth Games, and will ensure the Gold Coast leaves a lasting impression on all of our visitors. Small businesses need to be in a position to take advantage of the many opportunities that will come with the Games – in the lead up, during and after the event. I have a very strong track record of standing up the city’s small business sector – it is the beating heart of our economy. If our tourism industry is firing and our small business owners are supported and given every opportunity to grow their businesses, the Gold Coast has a lot to gain from the Commonwealth Games.

How do you like to spend your downtime?
With my family. I’ve got two young boys so when I’m not working you’ll find me down the beach with them.

This article originally appeared in Ocean Road Magazine and has been republished with permission.

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