A summary of the upcoming changes to family law parenting applications has been added to the By Lawyers Family Law – Children guide.
The upcoming changes to family law arise under two separate pieces of legislation, each of which commences on 6 May 2024.
Family Law Amendment Act 2023
Significant amendments to the way parenting orders are dealt with under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), include:
- a refined list of factors for the court to consider when determining the best interests of the child, the emphasis now being on safety and the needs of individual children;
- a new subsection requiring the court to consider the right of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child to connect with their family, community, culture, country, and language;
- provisions that allow the court to consider any views expressed by the child to the independent children’s lawyer;
- the repeal of the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility and the related equal time and substantial and significant time provisions;
- codification of the rule in Rice v Asplund that requires a court to be satisfied a that significant change in circumstances has occurred before varying parenting orders; and
- a mechanism for the court to address repetitive filing of applications by one party to oppress another party.
Family Law Amendment (Information Sharing) Act 2023
- seeks to establish a regime for information about domestic violence, children at risk, and firearms licensing to be shared between the relevant State authorities and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA);
- amends the Family Law Act to make such material admissible in children’s matters, subject to exceptions and safeguards, for example legal professional privilege.
The 2nd reading speeches note that the measures in each Act are complementary and that both Acts will work together to create a family law system that meets the needs of its users, centring the voices and best interests of children, and ensuring their safety and wellbeing is the paramount consideration.
By Lawyers guides are always up to date. When these changes to family law commence, the Family Law – Children publication will be updated accordingly. In the interim, the following content has been added to the guide too assist firms in understanding and transitioning to the changes:
- an Alert has been added at the top of the matter plan and the top of the full commentary;
- a heading Changes effective 6 May 2024 has been added under the Overview in the commentary and on the matter plan, with a concise summary of the amendments;
- a Comparative table detailing the changes to the Family Law Act effective 6 May 2024 has been added as an Appendix to the commentary, with a link on the matter plan.