Susan Warda is team leader and partner in Mills Oakley Lawyer's Sydney family law practice. Susan has particular expertise in family law matters that involve complex financial issues, including property settlements that incorporate family businesses, multiple assets and superannuation splitting. Susan is an accredited specialist in family law and was named 2013 Woman Lawyer of the Year in Private Practice by the Women Lawyers Association of NSW.
Susan also has extensive experience in resolving family law matters outside of the Court system. She is an experienced mediator and trained collaborative law practitioner, and is able to help clients resolve their disputes without having to be involved in costly and time-consuming litigation. As well as property and financial issues, Susan undertakes Hague Convention Applications, the separate representation of children and matters concerning parenting arrangements, child support matters and de facto relationship cases.
She is the past Chair of the Austlaw Board, an association of independent law firms located throughout NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the ACT, a founding member of the Western Sydney Collaborative Family Lawyers network, a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), a Director on the NSW Board of Variety- the Children's Charity and a Director of Variety Australia. Susan has been recommended as a Leading Family Lawyer in the 2018 Doyle's Guide.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Susan recently to discuss key challenges and opportunities facing the sector today.
Read the Q&A below and hear more from Susan at the School Law Conference: Legal Risks and Practical Solutions seminar.
"My key tip for schools dealing with hostile parents would be to ensure they keep comprehensive/detailed file notes of any conversations they have with either or both parents including date and time."
If you had one tip for schools dealing with hostile parents who are feuding with each other, what would it be?
My key tip for schools dealing with hostile parents would be to ensure they keep comprehensive/detailed file notes of any conversations they have with either or both parents including date and time.
What are some things a school should keep in mind when parents who are separating have made informal arrangements but no legal proceedings have begun and there are no actual court orders in place?
Schools should remember that unless there is a Court Order granting one of the parents sole parental responsibility, then parents are presumed to have equal shared parental responsibility and must both be kept informed about matters relating to their child.
From a school’s perspective when dealing with parents who are divorcing, Is there a difference between an interim order and a final court order?
An Interim Order is in place until it is discharged or revoked by a Final Order. Depending on the delays in the Court process, and this varies from Registry to Registry, an Interim Order may sometimes be enforced for a few years before a Final Hearing or a final resolution. The important thing for schools to note is just because children live with one parent pursuant to an Interim Order, does not always mean they will continue living with that parent once Final Orders have been made.
What sorts of things should a school document when dealing with situations involving divorcing parents?
It is essential for schools to probe and ensure they have a copy of any Orders made by the Court on their school file. In addition, they must communicate those Orders to the classroom teacher, year coordinator and any other relevant person who is involved with the student.
You can hear more from Susan at the School Law Conference: Legal Risks and Practical Solutions seminar, being held on Wednesday 30 May at the Primus Hotel Sydney, Sydney.