Reports on Family Law Lead to Review of Family Law Act

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The Attorney-General recently released three Reports on family law. The “Family Courts Violence Review” makes recommendations for changes to the Family Law Act, while the other Reports agree that the family law system needs to respond more effectively to allegations of violence.

Why was there a review?

The Attorney General requested a review into the appropriateness of legislation, practices and procedures applying in family law cases involving family violence.

What key themes came out of the review?

“The victim’s dilemma” is a key theme that came out of the review. This applies where a parent is a victim of violence at the hands of the other parent and has fears for the children in the care of that parent. In seeking orders which will protect the children, the victim/parent may be seen as an unfriendly parent. A court might then make orders giving the other parent more time than it otherwise would. The review also determined that one of the themes for reform should be that “family violence must be disclosed, understood and acted upon”.

What are the recommendations?

In addition to reforming procedures for decision-making, the review recommends revisiting aspects of the shared parental responsibility reforms which were made to the Family Law Act in 2006. It has also been suggested that there be amendments to ensure parents are not deterred from taking necessary protective action.