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Proposed Changes to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)

Friday 2nd of June 2023
By: Alisha Edwards, Special Counsel, Coote Family Lawyers

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Proposed Changes to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)

The Federal government has released a draft bill with a view to overhauling the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) as it relates to children and parenting arrangements.  

The purpose of the proposed changes are to:

  • Simplify the legal test used by the Court when determining parenting orders;
  • Ensure the Court can be more responsive to family violence, child abuse and neglect;
  • Give greater consideration to the views expressed by children;
  • Address the issue of non-compliance, and ineffective enforcement, of parenting orders;
  • Provide increased culturally appropriate support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

Some of the key changes being proposed are:

  • Removing the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility;
  • Removing the requirement that the Court consider an equal time, or substantial and significant time, parenting arrangement;
  • Removing the requirement that the Court, when determining what is in the best interests of a child, consider the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with parents and the need to protect the child from harm, abuse or neglect, together with the additional fourteen factors currently set out in Section 60CC of the Act.

The proposed changes to the Act seek to streamline the approach taken by the Court when determining parenting arrangements. In doing so, the draft bill proposes that the following six factors be considered when determining the best interests of the child, which will remain the paramount consideration of the Court:

  • What arrangements best promote the safety of the child and the child’s carers, including safety from family violence, abuse, neglect or other harm;
  • Any views expressed by the child;
  • The developmental, psychological and emotional needs of the child;
  • The benefit of being able to maintain relationships with each parent and other people who are significant to them, where it is safe to do so;
  • The capacity of each proposed carer of the child to provide for the child’s developmental, psychological and emotional needs, having regard to the carer’s ability and willingness to seek support to assist them with caring; and
  • Anything else that is relevant to the particular circumstances of the child.

If you have any questions or need family law advice, please contact our team of Accredited Specialists in Family Law on 9840 0035.

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