How to Save Money on Your Family Lawyer Fees

In a lawyer’s world, our time is your money. Many lawyers charge according to time (as opposed to a fixed fee). This means, the more time we spend on your file, the more it costs you. At Collier Family Law, we know that money is tight and you want the best value for money. This is why we will suggest to you that you can do some of the legwork yourself – as this will reduce your lawyer fees. Here are some examples of what you can do:

Write out your story.

You might find it therapeutic! Let us know the history of your relationship.  Do you have children and how old are they? Where do they live? What questions do you have? Do you have any concerns and fears? What would you like to achieve? This is very helpful when seeing a client for the first time because I can use our time together more effectively if I have some background.

If it is a property matter:

Get together all your financial records – bank statements, superannuation statements, and so on. What is of great assistance is to have a schedule setting out all of your major assets, what you think they might be worth. Who owns them, and what debts you have. This saves a lot of time normally spent asking you these questions at the first appointment.

Prepare and collate the financial documents.

Make two copies if you are delivering a hard copy. It is of great assistance to be given a bundle of documents that have already been separated into the various types, e.g. mortgage statements, bank statements (in date order), superannuation statements, payslips, with a schedule.

Keep asking me what you can do yourself.

I regularly have my clients fill in documents in draft for me to check over; or make their own enquiries where they can – for example, getting three quotes from a valuer. The more you can do, the less I need to, which reduces your fees.

Remember, your lawyer MUST give you a proper estimate of fees at the start of your engagement with them, and keep giving you further estimates throughout the life of your file. If this isn’t covered with you at the first appointment, ask why. 

This story was written by Collier Family Law. 


Help, My Cat Keeps Marking Its Territory!

Urine marking can land your cat straight into the bad books. Some furniture and shoes in particular can often be permanently ruined by a smelly territorial mark. Thankfully, there are many treatments and preventative strategies to reduce the incidence and severity of this noxious behaviour. 

Cats tend to mark in the wild to define their territory to reduce violent overlap with other cat’s territories. Feral cats can have natural ranges of anywhere between 2.5 and 700 acres. So if you think about it, we’re taking animals that are genetically geared to roam hundreds of acres by themselves, and putting them into tiny apartments in close proximity with other cats. This can be very stressful for them.  

Cats are prone to developing urinary tract inflammation and crystals in response to this stress. For this reason, abnormal marking is a problem where you should visit the vet first. Ideally, bring in a fresh urine sample for testing. A visit is essential to check for infection, urinary crystals, stress cystitis, and kidney failure, amongst other problems. Provided your cat is given the all-clear, their marking problem is likely behavioural. So how do we reduce this behaviour? 

Take your number of cats, plus one, and that’s how many litter trays you need. 

Got two cats? Get three litter trays. Got three cats? Get four litter trays. Cats prefer fresh, clean litter, so encourage them to use their litter tray by changing it regularly. You can even try offering different types of litter to see if there’s one they prefer. By making the litter as appealing as possible, you’re helping encourage them to urinate where they’re meant to. 

Restrict access to the area, and clean the area immediately. 

One of the best ways to break the marking habit is to remove access to the item or area they’re marking. This may mean closing off the lounge room door, or moving your shoes from the floor. Clean the area they’ve marked immediately with a urease-containing cleaner (“urine-off”) to reduce the scent trigger for them to re-mark the area.  

Have plenty of hidey holes and space. 

Many cats prefer their own company, and find social interaction with other cats quite stressful. Try making sure they have plenty of places to hide and relax around the house. Boxes, cat towers, and cupboards, can all be used as hiding places. 

Try pheromone sprays and diffusers.

“Feliway” sprays and diffusers contain artificial pheromones that help to reduce stress related marking behaviour. The spray can be sprayed daily on problem areas, such as the couch, whereas a diffuser will treat a whole room for around 30 days. 

Try some Zylkene.

“Zylkene” is a milk protein that seems to help relax stressed-out kitties. The powder is sprinkled onto their food and they tend to eat it enthusiastically. It has the main benefit of being a safe and simple treatment to reduce stress. 

Consider environmental adjustment.

Installing an outdoor cat run can take time and effort, but your cat will thank you when they can go outside and enjoy some space, sun, and fresh air. You won’t have to worry about them going missing, hunting wildlife, or getting into fights. This can help to increase their available space and reduce their stress levels. 

Try some cat nip toys.

Many cats respond positively to catnip toys or fresh catnip. We can use this in their environment to help keep them relaxed. 

Use separate water and food bowls.

Cats can find sharing food and water pretty stressful! Try placing food and water bowls around the house so they can eat where and when they want. 

Consider veterinary treatments.

Vets can provide advice on the best diets to reduce stress and reduce crystal formation in cats. We can also discuss stronger ways to reduce stress-related behaviour, such as antidepressant use. It is always necessary to address environmental problems alongside medical treatment.  


You can find more expert advice on the Cairns Veterinary Clinic website



How Can I Toilet Train My Puppy?

The puppy stage is a wonderful time to bond with your pet and set up good behaviours that last a lifetime. There are few behaviours that are more critical to get right than toilet training. Some pups are faster learners than others, but don’t worry, with enough time and perseverance all dogs are able to be house-trained. Here are some tips to get them there as quickly as possible.

Positive Rewards

The main principle to follow with toilet training is to give your pet the opportunity to urinate/defecate in the correct area. Then, immediately provide positive reward in the form of praise and treats. Over time, they develop a strong positive automatic association with voiding in the correct area. To do this, every hour or so take your puppy outside to the desired spot. Taking them out immediately after eating and drinking is also important, as these are high-risk times to urinate and defecate. As soon as they are going, cheerfully praise them. Once they’re finished, produce a small treat reward from your pocket and offer it.  

At Night

When your puppy sleeps indoors at night, take them out for one final ‘pee visit’ just before bed. ‘Crate training’ sleeping them in a crate can discourage soiling at night. This is because pups instinctively prefer not to soil where they sleep. Ideally the crate should be just large enough for them to stand up and turn around in, and is lined with cleanable bedding. They may cry at night to be let out to urinate. Provided they are crying to urinate (and not just for attention), take them outside to do their business. Over time, their muscles to control their bladder strengthen. Eventually they can go for longer periods of time without toileting.

During the Day

During the day, make sure it’s easy for them to go outside to their desired spot. This may mean installing doggy doors and keeping them open, or cracking the door open. They need every opportunity to express the behaviour that you’re encouraging.  

You could also try using a command such as “go pee” when your puppy urinates. Over time, your pup develops an association between these words and urinating. This can be used later to help encourage them to go.  

Occasionally, having another dog come and visit your yard to mark the desired area can help to stimulate your pup to urinate over this spot.  

Consistency is Key

Most pups will take up to a couple of months before they are properly toilet trained, though this time can vary considerably. Factors such as stairs, distance to the outdoors, intelligence, and response to reward, can all affect how quickly your pup learns this skill. Usually you can expect to see a trend of fewer and fewer accidents, starting within a week or two of training. If you’re not seeing this sort of improvement, check through the list above. Also consider looking at ways to improve your consistency of training. With enough time and consistency, most pups can be reliably toilet trained.  

You can more advice articles on the Cairns Veterinary Clinic website



Dr Richard Thomas – Cairns Vet Clinic

Dear Dr Richard Thomas, How can I toilet train my puppy?

An effective start to toilet training can save you a lot of time, smell and messes! First, make sure to take your puppy outside regularly and reward them immediately when they toilet outside. If their body is low to the ground and they’re smelling the floor, take them outside straight away.
Keep them in a crate with food, water and a bed if you can’t supervise them – puppies don’t like to go to the toilet where they eat and sleep. Having another dog over to ‘mark’ your yard can also help to stimulate your puppy to toilet in that area.

4032 9999

Matthew Calanna – Calanna Whole Health Pharmacy

Dear Matthew, What should I look for in a pharmacy?

A pharmacist who’s experienced and understands your family’s needs. Face to face dispensing is important – where the pharmacist is easily accessible at the front of the dispensary so you can speak with them and access their knowledge. Open seven days a week, early-late, because they understand that when you’re crook, or need advice, it generally happens off the clock. A loyalty club with customer benefits is always a plus, and lastly, a pharmacy that’s more than just a pharmacy. One who genuinely cares about your family, has an experienced team and offers unique products and services to assist your health.

Calanna Whole Health Pharmacy

Mario Calanna – Calanna Whole Health Pharmacy

Dear Mario, How can my pharmacy support me during the Coronavirus pandemic?

If you’re feeling fluey, or simply don’t want to risk entering a public place, call your local Calanna and you can arrange someone to pick up your shop, or we’ll bring it out to your car. For medication, download the MedAdvisor App, choose Calanna as your trusted Pharmacy, place your order and collect when convenient. It’s a good time to boost your immune system, Vitamin C, Immune Booster Tonic, and Zinc are great things to be taking. Come see us for your personalised plan. If there’s anything else we can do for your family at this time, please let us know.

Calanna Whole Health Pharmacy

Dr Bobby Griffin – Sunbird Orthodontics

Dear Dr Bobby, Does having braces hurt?

While it’s true that braces take a bit of getting used to and can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable, I have never had a kid ask me to take the braces off because they can’t handle it. Three out of four children will experience mild discomfort for around a week after braces go on.

But, only one kid in ten will need a Panadol tablet to alleviate their discomfort. Any discomfort felt by a child when the braces go on is quickly forgotten when they see their teeth become beautiful and straight. This boost in self-confidence makes it all worthwhile.

4038 1036



Dr Bobby Griffin – Sunbird Orthodontics

Dear Dr Bobby, can my daughter still play sport with braces?

In short – yes. However, in the early stages of treatment, the teeth are moving rapidly, so a mouthguard made to fit today may not fit tomorrow.
Therefore, your orthodontist can provide you with a pre-made double mouthguard which can provide good protection. A more robust mouthguard can be made once the teeth have aligned.

Once your orthodontic treatment is complete, your orthodontist will provide you with a high-quality mouthguard. Dental injuries from sport are with you for the rest of your life, so not having a mouthguard is never worth the risk.

4038 1036

Dr Richard Thomas – Cairns Vet Clinic

Dear Dr Richard Thomas, our dog barks when we’re away. How can we get her to stop?

They think they’re doing a good job, but barking dogs can make you unpopular in the neighbourhood!

Firstly, you should remove her from areas where she’s exposed to barking triggers – such as keeping her from seeing cars, people, or other dogs. Exercise can help reduce anxious behaviour, particularly in active breeds. When you leave the house, avoid feeding them in a bowl and instead offer food in an engaging puzzle toy to distract them and create a positive association with you leaving.

If this fails, your vet may recommend treatment for anxiety or explore other options.

4032 9999

Matthew Calanna – Calanna Whole Health Pharmacy

Dear Matthew, why is it so important to choose one pharmacy?

By choosing one pharmacy, your family is in safer hands. Why? All of your medication data will be in one place, avoiding the risk of conflicting medications that could make you sicker.

We are able to learn about your medical history and make recommendations on the type of medicine you’re taking, as well as dosage amounts. It helps us to better liaise with your GP and we can provide advice in emergency situations, such as losing an important script or what to do if you have missed a dose. Just like you’d choose one doctor, we’d love you to choose Calanna as your number one pharmacy, so our family can get
to know yours.

Fb Calanna Whole Health Pharmacy

Dr Fay Callaghan – 1300 Smiles Dentists

Dear Dr Fay, is it true that pregnancy increases your risk of dental problems?

Yes, it certainly is true. During pregnancy, your increased hormones can affect your body’s response to plaque, which can lead to oral health issues such as gum disease and an increased risk of tooth decay. Morning sickness and eating sugary foods due to cravings can also contribute to these issues. However, being pregnant doesn’t automatically damage your teeth.

If you are pregnant, be sure to continue the regular check-ups with your dentist, and be sure to let your dentist know that you’re pregnant.

1300 764 537



Everybody needs a good night’s sleep, and nothing is worse than having that ruined by your cat meowing. There can be many causes of this night vocalisation, so here are some suggestions to help you get some peace and quiet.

Play with them during the day

Cats are crepuscular, meaning they are naturally most active during dawn and dusk. House-bound cats typically don’t receive much stimulation compared to their wild counterparts; instead of spending hours and hours tracking and hunting, they spend hours and hours on the couch. This can lead to a dysregulated day-night cycle, what we call their circadian rhythm. Usually one of the first treatments we look at is to increase stimulation during the day in an attempt to reset this circadian rhythm. This can involve a combination of playing with toys (laser pointers are very useful!), supplying catnip, and discouraging rest during the day.  

Ensure they have food, water, and fresh litter

We also need to ensure that they’re not vocalising to tell us something. Having plenty of food and water on hand can help, in fact, cats are just like us and can go into a ‘food coma’ after a large meal. We can use this to our advantage by offering a large feed prior to bedtime and ensuring food availability through the night. Cats are also naturally fastidious, and prefer fresh clean litter in their tray. Keeping their litter clean and fresh can reduce the chance of them reminding you at night.

Desex them!

When cats are on heat or it is mating season, they are in a highly stimulated state and will often find it difficult to rest. This period typically lasts around 10 days for female cats. Desexing your pet will stop vocalisation related to sex hormones. 


Many owners notice brain ageing in their pets. Studies have shown that pets can experience the same age-related changes in their central nervous system as people with dementia. This can result in forgetfulness, anxiety, and disturbed circadian rhythm. Some cats seem to ‘forget’ they have been fed, some get very distressed with dark environments, and others experience radical personality changes.

Provided we have ruled out concurrent disease, many older cats benefit from having night lights to reduce anxiety and having freely available food, water and litter in many areas. Some patients are treated with anti-anxiety drug therapy to help them cope with the stress of cognitive dysfunction. It is also important to keep to a routine as much as possible, and avoid moving furniture. Occasionally by offering puzzle toys, increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, and increasing the amount of antioxidants in their diet, we can improve outcomes, however there are currently no widely accepted medical treatments for this problem in cats. 


Just like ourselves, the older our cats get, the more likely they are to develop arthritis. This can eventually manifest as a dull, aching chronic pain in the spine or other joints. Having chronic pain interferes with getting restful, recharging sleep and can result in your cat complaining at night. There are many medications available to help with arthritis, and many vets will employ a mulit-modal approach which involves using a few synergistic medications to provide safe and effective pain relief. 


Older cats can develop a variety of metabolic problems, but one in particular that can be responsible for night vocalisation is hyperthyroidism. This occurs as a result of a small tumor developing on the thyroid, which then secretes excessive levels of thyroid hormone. Excessive circulating thyroid hormone results in what we call a hypermetabolic state, where their metabolism is significantly increased- think of yourself after three espressos! The resultant increase in heart rate, blood pressure and metabolic rate makes getting a sustained restful sleep difficult for them. We tend to diagnose this problem based on a blood test, and from there can offer a variety of therapies including topical creams, referral to a major city for nuclear therapy (this is where we use radioactive iodine to destroy the thyroid tumor), tablets, and even iodine-restricted prescription diets. 

Avoid positive reinforcement

Many cats don’t seem to understand that we have work in the morning, and that we can’t afford to lose sleep in order to pat them. Offering them a few pats to ‘quiet them down’ will only serve to reinforce the meowing longer term. 

Environmental control

Some clients have set up auto-sprayers outside their door, which detect cat movement at night and spray a puff of harmless air if the cat gets too close to the door. Others have succeeded by locking their pets away where they can’t be heard at night. When all else has failed these treatments can help, however in principle we prefer to treat the primary problem rather than offer ‘band-aid’ solutions.

As you can see, cats can meow at night for many reasons. So if you’re having a problem with your cat meowing late into the night, consider a visit to the vet to investigate the above problems. 

Cairns Veterinary Clinic is proud to have been caring for Cairns furry family members since 1966. With 2 convenient locations, Pease Street and Norman Street, Gordonvale, our clinics are staffed by a great team of hard working and dedicated veterinary professionals who treat your pets as if they are their own.   With a vet available 24/7 365 days per year, we are always here when you need us. Contact our friendly staff for all your pet’s healthcare needs.