Key Points About Family Law Australia

Family Court abolished as controversial bill passes through Senate

Over the years, developments in Australian family law and child custody have focused on promoting the best interests of the child, enhancing parental involvement, and addressing issues of family violence. 

Parenting Reforms

The Australian government introduced significant reforms to family law, emphasising shared parental responsibility and encouraging parents to reach agreements on parenting arrangements without litigation. The focus has shifted towards co-parenting and meaningful involvement of both parents in a child’s life, except in cases of family violence or child abuse.

Family Violence and Child Abuse

There has been a stronger emphasis on addressing and preventing family violence in family law matters. Courts are now required to consider any evidence of family violence or child abuse when determining parenting arrangements, and the safety of the child is paramount.

Independent Children’s Lawyers (ICLs)

The use of Independent Children’s Lawyers has become more common in family law proceedings. ICLs represent the child’s interests in court and provide a voice for the child, ensuring their views and welfare are considered when determining custody arrangements.

Focus on Child’s Voice

The courts increasingly recognise the importance of considering a child’s views in custody matters, depending on the child’s age and maturity. Children’s views can be obtained through family consultants, child-inclusive conferences, or direct interviews, allowing their voice to be heard in the decision-making process.

Alternatives to Court

Efforts have been made to promote alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and family dispute resolution, to reduce the need for adversarial court proceedings. These processes encourage parents to negotiate and reach agreements outside of court, placing the child’s best interests at the forefront.

Reforms to Parenting Orders

Amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 have aimed to simplify the language and clarify the expectations of parenting orders. The amendments provide more guidance for parents and courts in making decisions about parenting arrangements, including greater consideration of family violence and child abuse.

Recognition of Diverse Family Structures

Australian family law has evolved to recognise and accommodate diverse family structures, including same-sex relationships and blended families. The focus is on ensuring that the child’s relationships and connections with significant individuals are maintained and promoted.

International Child Abduction

Australia has strengthened its efforts to prevent and resolve cases of international child abduction. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction provides a framework for the return of children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside their home country.

Author info:

John Bui is the Principal Solicitor of JB Solicitors – a law firm based in Sydney, Australia. John is a Nationally Accredited family law Mediator and Arbitrator with over 10 years’ experience in family law and commercial litigation.

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