Family Law Amendment Bill 2023
On 30 January 2023 the Australian Government released the exposure draft of the Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 and community submissions ended on 27 February 2023 during the consultation process. These changes will impact children and on their parents when making decisions after separation.
The exposure draft followed a number of the previous 60 recommendations made in the 2019 Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) report on the inquiry into the family law system. In particular, the Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 places primary focus on the best interests and safety of children in simplifying the parenting framework set out in Part VII of the Family Law Act 1975 Cth (the Act) currently.
This Bill also priorities family violence and the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. The Government is still working through the reminder of the ALRC recommendations including the property framework. Below are some significant proposed changes in summary:
- Parenting framework - to specifically recognise the Convention on the Rights of the Child and simplification of the child's “best interests” considerations under section 60CC. There is a proposal to remove the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility to avoid ongoing family violence and wider public misinterpretation in terms of equal time arrangements.
- The established principles set out in the Full Court decision of Rice v Asplund (which require the Court to be satisfied as to significant changes in circumstances before considering whether to make new parenting orders) will be codified in the Act.
- Part VII Division 13A Enforcement provisions will be changed to simplify the enforcement framework and power given to the Courts to order time without any finding as to breach along with the power to make costs orders. Consideration is given to the First Nations’ definitions of the terms “kinship” and “family”.
- Independent childrens lawyer (ICL) would be required to meet with a child over 5 years of age and provide child with opportunity to express a view unless there are exceptional circumstances or practicability issues.
- Case management changes reinforce the overarching purpose of family law practice - which is to facilitate just resolution of disputes “quickly, inexpensively and as efficiently as possible in a manner that minimises harm to children and their families”. Costs consequences flow to individuals who breach the duty to conduct proceedings consistent with this overarching purpose.
- Avoid harmful proceedings by providing courts with power to restrain a party from making further applications without leave. Further amendment to provide power for the Courts to exclude evidence of “protected confidences” such as medical or counselling records with bests interests of child as paramount consideration.
For more information about the Bill, visit: https://consultations.ag.gov.au/families-and-marriage/family-law-amendment-bill/
If you have any questions about your separation, please reach out to our friendly team via this website and book in for your free 30min discovery call now.