- The Family Law Act of 1975 will shortly undergo significant revisions.
- The modifications will aid in streamlining a complicated and multifaceted family law system.
- Since the rules are new and unproven, it is unclear how effective they will be in protecting children and victim-survivors of family violence until case law is established.
- All professionals involved in the family law system must get specialized training on domestic and family violence, and an evidence-based community education campaign must support these improvements.
On November 6, 2023, the Family Law Amendment Act 2023 (the “Act”) was ratified by the monarchy. Most of the modifications will take effect on May 6, 2024. Some of the biggest modifications to the Family Law Act of 1975 (the “Family Law Act”) since the 2006 revisions are made by the Act.
The Family Law Act was changed primarily in response to recommendations made in the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Family Law for the Future: An Inquiry into the Family law System (ALRC Report 135, 2019) (the “ALRC Report”). Numerous problems with the family law system were highlighted by the ALRC Report, including the complicated and ambiguous legislation in this field, the lengthy court proceedings, and the insufficient protection provided to victims and those in danger of family violence.
This essay will analyze these modifications from the viewpoint of family violence victims and survivors, as well as the possible effects on them and their family law cases.
According to the Explanatory Memorandum Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 at , the Act “will see more family law matters resolved quickly, safely, and inexpensively without compromising the safety of family members.” Even though there have been some encouraging developments, our analysis of these modifications through the eyes of a specialized legal service for sexual, domestic, and family violence raises concerns that they may not be as successful as expected and, in certain cases, even jeopardize safety. It will be necessary to closely examine the modified “best interests” standard in particular to make sure the Act fulfills its intended purpose.