Divorce is costing us $14 billion per year

DivorceA recent article on news.com.au has said that divorce and relationship breakdowns are now costing the country more than $14 billion dollars per year in court costs and government assistant payments. This figure is now $2 billion more than it was only two years ago.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews said they are going to examine different strategies to assist with lowering the divorce rate and look at various means to identify vulnerable children and young people.

Mr Andrews has confirmed he will complete an overhaul of the early intervention strategies to assist with strengthening Australian families.

This seems like a very important step considering almost 50,000 people get divorced each year in Australia and the rate of divorce is now on the rise again.

Read more about this article on news.com.au.

If you are experiencing a family situation, please contact our Family Law team today.stolaw.com.au or 1300 STOLAW.

More Support for Children

More Support for ChildrenAccording to the State Government, they will provide vulnerable children and young people with more support and protection with the Office of the Public Guardian’s South Brisbane advocacy hub and the Queensland Family and Child Commission working to give children a brighter future.

These two new agencies will give children and young people, who are at possible risk, a safe place to go where they will receive the support they need.

Read more here: http://www.news-mail.com.au/news/extra-support-children-and-vulnerable/2305622/#comments

If you have a family matter, please contact our friend Family Law team today. www.stolaw.com.au/contact

What is Insolvency?

Insolvency is when a debtor cannot repay his debts. The common types of corporate insolvency include voluntary administration, liquidation and receivership. If a person, not a company, is insolvent personal procedures that apply include bankruptcy and personal insolvency agreements.

InsolvencySigns that may indicate a company is in financial difficulty include:

  • ongoing losses;
  • poor cashflow;
  • unpaid creditors outside usual trading terms; and
  • problems obtaining finance.

If the above list sounds familiar, then you may want to seek legal advice which may assist with increasing the chances of the company surviving.

The company is insolvent

If your company is insolvent, do not allow it to incur any further debt. It is best to call upon a voluntary administrator or a liquidator to assess the situation.

Trading while insolvent

If you continue to trade while your company is insolvent there are a number of penalties that are associated such as civil penalties, compensation proceedings and criminal charges.

Assisting an external administrator

As the director of the company you must assist any external administrator whether it be a liquidator, receiver or administrator with any information they require relating to affairs, reports, information and other details.

This information is to be used as a guide only. If you require legal advice please contact our team today stolaw.com.au or 1300 STOLAW.

(Source: Australian Securities and Investments Commission, 2014, http://www.asic.gov.au/asic/asic.nsf/byheadline/Directors+and+insolvency?openDocument)

Thinking of buying a business?

Thinking of Buying a Business?Due Diligence

It is important to ensure due diligence is carried out before purchasing a business so you know exactly what it is you are buying. This helps with eliminating any risks that maybe associated with the business.

With the due diligence process it is best to look at a number of different aspects of the business including how it is operated, financial performance, legal and tax compliance, customer contracts, intellectual property, assets and other details. This process is normally carried out once you have made a deal with the seller but before you have signed any contracts.

Be mindful that all this information is highly confidential and the seller may want you to sign a “non-disclosure” agreement before they provide you access to this information.

 Legal and Tax

There are a number of legal and tax questions you will need to consider when buying a business. Areas you may need assistance with include:

Legal

  1. Terms and conditions of the agreement and your rights and obligations
  2. Property search regarding health, water and sewerage
  3. Pending legal proceedings against the business or seller
  4. Best ways to handle the finances, purchase and business structure

Tax

  1. Capital gains tax
  2. Stamp duty implications
  3. GST or other stamp duty implications
  4. How to value your assets for best tax advantage

Finance and Sale

It is important to review the business’s sales performance and financial data so best to consult a professional to help you. Below are a few examples of what they could assist you with.

Financial Records

  1. Financial records for the past 3 years, including balance sheets, profit and loss statements, tax returns, purchases and sales records and bank statements
  2. Assess whether there is potential growth and if the business is profitable

Sales

  1. Reliability of Sales
  2. Seasonal patterns
  3. Are more resources required?
  4. What are the salespeople like in regards to the success of the business?
  5. What is unique about the product or service?

Business Operations and Industry

By carrying out a detailed review of the business’s operations and industry environment can help to determine the seller’s reasons behind selling the business. Here are some items you might want to assess:

The Business

  1. Is the business suitable for what you want to do/achieve?
  2. Restrictions such as franchise as to how the business must operate
  3. Permission for the business to actually be running the way it currently is
  4. Procedure manuals
  5. Business Licenses / equipment licenses etc

The Seller

  1. Reason for the sale
  2. Will there be training from the seller after you buy the business?
  3. Is there a trial period to work in the business before buying?

The Industry

  1. Is the business in a high growth industry?
  2. Is their possibilities that competition could increase and impact on the business further?
  3. Should the same suppliers be used?
  4. What are the supplier’s business credit ratings?
  5. Are the suppliers in any type of contract with the business?

Location

  1. Is the location of the business good or poor?
  2. Are there any changes to the local area that may affect the business?

Lease

  1. Is there a lease in place and can you continue under that same lease or does a new one need to be drawn up?
  2. What are the terms & conditions regarding the lease agreement?
  3. Who is the landlord and what are their rights and responsibilities?

Staff     

  1. Are all staff on contracts? Who is permanent/casual etc?
  2. What are the staff wages and salary packages and are what award are they under?
  3. Do staffs require any specific licences/ ongoing training?

Business Assets

You should assess the business you are going to buy and ensure you know what the tangible and intangible assets are. It is a good idea to know exactly what you are buying with the business and what may not be included in the sale.

Assets

  1. Is there a checklist of assets and have you check them out?
  2.  Book value, market value and replacement value of the assets.
  3. If inventory is involved, what inventory is included in the sale?
  4. Intangible items can include mailing lists, business name, database, leases.

Stock

  1. Find out what the turnover of stock is.
  2. Has the stock been correctly valued?

Equipment         

  1. Is it in good shape? Does it need repairing? Is it a hazard?
  2. Is it expensive to repair? Are parts easily available?
  3. Is any equipment leased? What are the terms and conditions?
  4. What happens when the lease for the equipment expires?

Expenses and Debts

To ensure you are getting the most for your money, make sure you completely understand what the ongoing costs are to the business and if the business has any debts. If you have a comprehensive understanding before going into the business you shouldn’t receive any surprises once you have purchased it. Some areas to look out for or to ask yourself include:

Expenses            

  1. Are you aware of all the expenses? Will you incur all of these same expenses when you purchase the business?
  2. Could there be some expenses missing?
  3. Are the expenses being paid through another business?
  4. What expenses do other similar businesses have?
  5. Are there body corporate expenses?
  6. Advertising agreements that need to be honoured?

Debts

  1. Are there any debts associated with the assets? What are the repayment terms?
  2. Will the cash flow of the business cover any debts?

(Source: Queensland Government, Business & Industry Portal, Revised 16th may 2014,  http://www.business.qld.gov.au/business/starting/business-startup-options/due-diligence-checklist/)

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

If you are thinking of buying or selling a business, contact our team today and they will be able to assist you with all aspects 1300 STOLAW or http://www.stolaw.com.au/contact

Changes to Child Protection Act Victoria

Child Protection ActA bill has been passed through the lower house of the Victorian Parliament which will see it an offense if cases of child abuse are not reported.

Welfare groups are concerned for those parents who are in situations where they fear their own life maybe at risk and could be sent to jail, if they don’t report their partner who abuses their child/children.

However, Robert Clark Attorney General has said that anyone who is a victim of family violence should not be worried. “The bill provides and recognises the difficult situations faced by members of families where there is family violence,” he said. “The bill makes clear there is no obligation to report where it would not be reasonable for a person to do so because of fear for their own or another person’s safety.”

To read more about the these changes visit abc.net.au.

If you need assistance with a family situation, please contact our family law department today. 1300 STOLAW or visit our website stolaw.com.au

Permits Required for Training in Local Parks

Are you a fitness instructor on the Sunshine Coast and train your clients in the local parks? Then make sure you have permission to do so. The Sunshine Coast Council has revealed 69 fitness instructors have permits and others are not complying with local laws. If you do not have a permit then you are at risk of being fine $550. Visit the Sunshine Coast Council website for details on how to obtain a permit.

Traning in Local Parks

Credit Law Changes Now in Play

Credit Laws Now In PlayAustralia’s new credit laws took effect on 12 March and are now in full swing across the country.  The changes were designed at making it easier for the “good payers” to obtain finance more easily but the sting in the tail for “bad payers” is that they are going to find it harder than ever before to secure loans and finance facilities.

The spin being put on the new legislation is that it moves Australia across to an environment of “positive reporting”, but I suspect that it could be argued that nothing is, in fact, further from the truth.

Under the old laws, it was only a “default” that would be recorded against the name of a finance consumer and other than with an existing bank or financier, there was no available record of a customer who was historically late in making payments or generally unreliable in meeting monthly commitments.  Now, under the new regime, any late payment of greater than 5 days is going to be recorded and will be available for all potential financiers to see. The transparency of a payment history is a double whammy for those with a bad track record as not only will it mean that it is harder for them to secure finance but when they do, it is likely to be at a higher rate of interest because of the perception of a greater risk.

From a consumer’s perspective the commercial reality is that diligence is going to be required in ensuring that financial commitments are met on time, every time from 12 March as otherwise it is highly likely that the price of tardiness could be a financial hangover that lasts for years.

Travis Schultz, Managing Partner, Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, Ph: (07) 5413 8900, Fax: (07) 5413 8958

Maverick Breechens White 2011

Maverick Breechens WhiteMaverick Wines are probably best known for their winemaker, Ron Brown, and his elegant Barossa Valley Shiraz, but you know the winery is genuinely “five star” when the “house white” is as good as the 2011 Maverick Breechens.

Squarely aimed at the “everyday tipple” end of the 1300 market, the Breechens is a white blend primarily based on the Chardonnay grape, but which changes in its makeup and weightings every year, depending upon the seasonal variations and what each varietal can contribute to the final product.

The Breechens may be a pale yellow colour in the glass, but it exhibits lively citrus fruit characters both on the nose and at the front of the palate.  Add melons and gooseberries to the middle and a subtle well-rounded and understated all-spiceness at the back, it’s not just a late afternoon wind-down but a partner for spicy Thai cuisine or, in its ever so slightly acidic youth, pan-fried snapper served with baked kipfler potatoes and a green garden salad.  Yum!

And while the fruit is excellent, it’s the textural attractiveness and lingering finish of the wine that makes it such a standout at the budget end of the wine buying spectrum, as at only around $10 a bottle, you’ll struggle to find better value.

Beware Spa Bath Regulation

shutterstock_36021790-resized404pxAs much as I enjoy spending my summer weekends swimming in the pool with my 6 year old son, I can’t help but begrudge the cost of pool maintenance and the hassle of complying with pool fencing regulations. And so it is that every time the chlorinator breaks, the pump stops working or I spend hundreds of dollars topping up on pool chemicals, I find myself thinking that I “should have just got a spa”!

And although the cost of maintaining a spa is significantly less, I was a little surprised to learn that the red tape and regulations surrounding spas are not really much less onerous than for an outdoor swimming pool.

Under the Building Act 1975 a spa bath is included in the definition of a swimming pool and, as a result, is subject to the same pool fencing regulations that apply to a swimming pool of any description.  The regulations are onerous and require not just child-safe pool fencing but self-closing locks and barriers on all sides.  As it turns out, there are no exceptions for spa baths which are located inside the home or on a verandah.  In those situations, any spa which is capable of being filled to a depth of greater than 300mm is required to comply with the same pool fencing regulations.  It matters not that the spa bath is in a bedroom which might have a lockable door.  The only time that a spa bath does not require a pool fence is if it is situated inside an ensuite or bathroom.

So I guess a tip to anyone who is thinking of building, designing or renovating is to make sure that your spa bath is located in an area that would be properly described as a bathroom or ensuite rather than being placed in a bedroom or balcony as it will save you the cost of pool fencing and the inconvenience of having to obtain certification that the fencing is compliant with the regulations.

Travis Schultz
Managing Partner
Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers
Ph: (07) 5413 8900
Fax: (07) 5413 8958

Meet Adele Meredith

Adele MeredithPosition: Family Law Paralegal

How long you have been working here for? 6 and a bit years

How do you spend your time outside of work? I am undertaking a Bachelor of Information Studies, so most of my time outside of work is spent studying, but if I get a break from the grindstone I spend time with friends and family, and succumbing to my inner couch potato catching up with my favourite tv shows.

What is your favourite type of music? I will listen to nearly anything. I grew up on classic rock, country (my father), pop (my mother was an avid ABBA fan), and musicals (thanks to my grandmother), and my husband has introduced me to metal and punk, so really anything goes!