19 Oct Family law reforms to re-focus on the best interests of children
The changes to the Family Law Act that Federal Parliament has today approved will significantly benefit children and women victim-survivors of family violence.
The Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 re-focuses Australia’s family law system on the best interests of children and the safety of caregivers by:
- Confirming the best interests of children as the overriding priority for the family law system
- Improving the way courts handle family violence, domestic violence and abuse
- Clarifying principles underpinning shared parenting orders
- Improving the court’s ability to restrain parties from legal coercion and vexatious applications, also known as systems abuse
- Ensuring independent lawyers meaningfully consult with and represent children
- Creating a pathway for greater accountability around family reports in legal proceedings
- Better meeting Australia’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
Women’s Legal Services Australia Chair Elena Rosenman said women’s legal services across the country have fought to make the law clearer and fairer for women and children.
“We work to keep women and their children safe and these changes will support them in that important work,” she said.
“When violence and abuse are factors, courts will be able to deal with them more easily and reduce the number of children and mothers forced into dangerous situations.”
Women’s Legal Service Victoria CEO Claudia Fatone said courts will now have to consider whether there is a history of family violence before determining how parents should make decisions about their child or children.
“This protects children from spending time with a violent parent.”
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