“If she wants it, tell her to take me to court.” These were costly words from a husband who refused to hand over a chandelier to his wife as part of a family law property settlement. There are plenty of parties who may find themselves unwilling to hand over property to their ex-partner, but what are the consequences? A recent decision of the Family Court of Australia examined this issue.

Family law - Couple in dispute over chandelier

Background – family law property orders

The husband and wife were negotiating a property settlement after the breakdown of their marriage. In June 2017, they were both represented by their lawyers and appeared before a Registrar of the Family Court.

The Registrar made orders that within 14 days, the husband allow the wife to collect various belongings that were in the husband’s possession, including a chandelier light fitting.

The wife sent a removalist to collect her belongings. The husband allowed the removalist to take most things, but refused to hand over the chandelier, saying “if she wants it, tell her to take me to court.”

The wife then applied to the Family Court to enforce the Registrar’s order of June 2017 on the grounds that the husband had failed to comply.

She made the application without providing any notice to the husband. She was concerned that if she provided notice to him, he would destroy, dispose of or damage the chandelier. She was also in the process of applying for an intervention order against the husband due to her fears about his behaviour. She was concerned about her own safety if she had to be in the Court with him. The Court accepted this and allowed the application to proceed without notice to the husband. This is known as an ex parte application.


The Court found that the wife could make the application without giving notice to the husband. It also decided that it was appropriate to grant the order. This would mean that an enforcement officer of the Court, usually known as a Sheriff, could go to the husband’s property with a warrant and seize the chandelier. The Sheriff could then deliver the chandelier to the wife.

The wife also applied for costs against the husband. Normally, both parties would pay their own legal costs when taking legal action in the Family Court. Costs can include lawyers’ fees, photocopying and service of documents, court fees, and any other expenses incurred in running the legal action.

However, if one party fails or refuses to comply with an order, the Court can decide whether that party should then have to pay the legal costs of the other party. In doing so, it would have to consider a range of things including:

  • The financial circumstances of both parties.
  • Whether either party is being assisted with Legal Aid.
  • The conduct of the parties.
  • Whether the legal action came about because one party failed to comply with Court orders.

The Court found that:

  • The husband had sufficient finances to pay the wife’s costs.
  • The husband failed to comply with the Court’s order.
  • Legal Aid wasn’t relevant to this case.

It concluded that the husband should pay the wife’s costs of almost $7,500.

What does it mean?

This case is a good reminder that parties in any legal action need to abide by court orders. Even though the first order wasn’t made by a judge, the Registrar was an officer of the Court with the power to make orders. That meant that the husband was required to follow the Registrar’s orders.

Sometimes a person in a family law action can feel like they have been unfairly treated by the Court or that their side of the story hasn’t been properly heard or considered. For these reasons, they may feel that it’s inappropriate or unfair to comply with Court orders. But once the Court has made an order, it’s important to use legal avenues to try and appeal or overturn the order rather than simply ignoring the order.

The man’s actions not only cost him thousands of dollars in legal expenses, they also formed part of the Court’s record of the legal action. Any further legal action in the Family Court would be difficult for him if he was trying to convince the Court to do (or not to do) something but yet had failed to follow the previous orders. This could have a significant impact on his legal rights and options down the track.

If you aren’t happy with a Court decision, the best thing to do is to get legal advice immediately. There may be other legal options available to you and it’s best to discuss them with your lawyer so that you can work out how to proceed.

Websters Lawyers has an outstanding team of family lawyers who can assist you with all your family law needs. Contact us today for a free first consultation. We’re here to help.

Paulus & Scillaci [2017] FamCA 797 (4 October 2017)





call now

*Conditions Apply


Having such a short time frame I was very impressed with the outcome made by [my solicitor]. Excellent and timely manner


Kurralta Park

Very professional mannerism and overall great outcome was delivered by Websters Lawyers.


West Ryde NSW

Helpful, explained fully, patient, excellent service.



Patient and helpful in explaining the process.



Call Websters Lawyers for a most professional and friendly service. All understanding with [my solicitors] and the reception staff. Thank you so much.



Making my will was effortless on my part, with everything explained clearly. Well done to all.



Great service, professional, explains things clearly, definitely recommend Websters Lawyers.


Upper Hermitage

Patient, professional, good communication about procedures and probable outcomes.



Thank you for all your work over the course of the case. You [both] were always very approachable and I appreciated your understanding and professionalism in all areas.


Christie Downs

All in all my experience was great. Thank you for your time and expertise.


Seacombe Gardens

My matter was dealt with efficiently and was explained in an understandable language. A pleasant experience.



Practical and very helpful. Reasons and explanations given where needed



I stumbled across Websters in the Yellow Pages and I rang, explained my situation and immediately they took my case on. Greatly appreciate their services.



The service from Websters Lawyers was outstanding. [My solicitor] was caring, had patience and was very professional. Wonderful personality.



[My solicitor] made everything so simple to understand. [The receptionist] was wicked too, would recommend them anytime. Level of entire service was outstanding.


Golden Grove


I had dealings with Websters over 20 years ago. They were my first choice when I recently needed legal advice. Both legal and office staff were professional, courteous and accessible at all times. Everything was explained up front in a clear and concise manner. I would not hesitate to recommend their services.



It has truly been a pleasure communicating with you throughout the process. I really appreciate your patient and speedy replies to my questions and requests. You were always able to provide an easily understood response and this helped me deal with the process. Your friendly and positive manner encouraged me to seek your advice.


Battery Hill QLD

[My lawyer's] service was prompt and efficient with all questions explained clearly with all our requests carried out within the laws. Overall service was very satisfactory.


Wynn Vale

[My lawyer] was excellent. 



Excellent service. Professional. Clear advice and instructions. Prompt actions. Overall 10/10!


Ingle Farm

Overall, I was happy with my outcome and my lawyer, would definitely recommend [my lawyer].



[My solicitor] was excellent at helping us through preparing our wills which were particularly challenging as they involved assets in multiple countries. She was professional and knowledgeable and spent time tailoring the wills to our needs.



[My solicitor] was very helpful, respectful and polite. She made sure I understood the process and documentation of our wills.



Professional. Smooth Transaction. 


Largs North

I found the whole experience from Receptionist to Solicitor excellent. They completely put us at our ease.



This was a new experience for us and didn’t have a clue what to do. [Our solicitor] on our first visit put us at ease, explained what will happen, pointed out there was a strong case. [Our solicitor] was genuine in her approach, kept us well informed, explained actions several times with patience and understanding. Overall very happy with the service we received.


Elizabeth Vale

[My lawyer] was very reassuring in her approach to my case. I felt that every possibility in terms of evidence to provide and possible outcomes were explained to me, The result of the case was the best possible outcome I could have expected.

David, Belair


With no previous dealing with the criminal justice system, [our solicitor] gave us excellent advice and guided us through a nightmare to achieve a just and correct outcome. [Our lawyer] was both forthright and compassionate in her handling of our case.

Malcolm, Belair

[My lawyer] explained all the legal terms in language I could understand – she was very easy to talk to.

Cameron, Munno Para

I felt confident knowing my matter was in good hands. Very professional!

Shravan, Christie Downs

Initial phone call was fantastic and the role of an executor was fully explained.

Penny, Henley Beach

The service I received was efficient and promptly finalised. The solicitor clearly explained the details and I was happy with how easy it was.

Dale, Fairview Park

[My lawyer] was exactly the lawyer I needed in a serious matter. The outcome was as predicted which was a fantastic result. I received prompt professional and personal service at all times. Capable and supportive in a very stressful period.

Jason, Munno Para West

I had any of my concerns answered to my satisfaction and understanding.

Valda, Ingle Farm

[My lawyer] is an excellent professional lawyer who assisted in achieving a great positive outcome/result. I sincerely thank you and your great staff for your assistance and guidance throughout my claim. Would highly recommend [my lawyer], staff and Websters Lawyers. Kept fully informed and guided, professionally throughout the matter.

Rena, Northgate

Our work was dealt with very efficiently and speedily. Our lawyer was very professional, at the same time as being approachable. Communication was great.

Christina, Highbury

My experience with Websters Lawyers was far beyond what I expected. From the moment I spoke to [my lawyer] she made me feel very comfortable and eased my stress. In my case I had a court appearance the day before we were scheduled to fly to Spain, Considering my first appointment with her was only 2 weeks before the court hearing, she was able to obtain the police statement and thoroughly work on my case within that limited time frame. She was very knowledgeable, understanding and confident which greatly relieved so much pressure from me and my family. At court, she explained everything thoroughly and advised me of all the possible outcomes. Price, service and result, very highly recommended. Thank you Websters Lawyers.

Rafael, Davoren Park

I have high expectations and they were met. Websters service was swift, courteous, professional and met the agreed budget. I will recommend Websters to my family, friends and colleagues. Thank you.

Peter, Forestville

I would recommend Websters Lawyers, especially for [my lawyer's] dedication and exemplary attitude and advice. She is the epitome of a good lawyer. The service was impeccable.

Pamela, West Lakes

[My lawyer] was very professional and I was made comfortable to understand.

Gregory, Penfield

I was very pleased with the end result and how well [my lawyer] conducted herself.

Sonya, Glanville

Very professional.

Jesse, Morphett Vale

[My lawyer] has been very prompt , reliable and provided a high level of communication.

Peter, Parkside

My experience at Websters was very positive. The stress was taken from me and I could not be happier with the outcome. [My lawyer] at Websters was professional, personable, available and caring. Thank you for making the experience stress free.

Magda, Holden Hill

Found my lawyer upfront and reliable – I would highly recommend Websters Lawyers.

Lee, Evanston Park


Top bunch of solicitors and admin staff. Very friendly and to the point service.

Bradley, Hallett Cove

Websters Lawyers were very professional in their service, I would be happy to recommend them.

Carole, Tea Tree Gully

We would not hesitate in recommending Websters for any legal matter. They are professional and courteous at all times and call back when they say they will.

David and Dianne, Lockleys


I fully recommend Websters Lawyers. This was the 3rd time myself & my family have used Websters Lawyers. In these stressful times we have found them to answer and guide us through the process needed to accomplish the legal requirements in a timely and courteous manner.

Dianne, Lynton

Solid, to the point, no hustle. Highly recommend.

George, Windsor Gardens

Contact us

Adelaide Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8231 1363
F: ( 08 ) 8231 5529

Ridgehaven Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8395 8000
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

Smithfield Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8487 0150
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

© Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved
Website By A to Z Marketing