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Changes to the Family Law Act

By Callum Argaet

17th April 2024

The Government has passed laws that make significant changes to the Family Law Act.

What are the Changes?

The changes primarily focus on parenting matters and the way in which parenting orders are made.

Some of the major changes are:

Parental Responsibility

Removing the presumption that both parents equally share parental responsibility. It is important to remember that the concept of parental responsibility still exists, which can be exercised jointly or solely. The Court no longer has to assume that it is in a child’s best interests for both parents to share parental responsibility.

Best Interests of Children

Replacing the principles regarding how the Court determines what is in the best interests of children. A simplified list of best interest principles will be introduced, replacing the current factors. The new factors to be considered (in no order of priority) are:

  • what arrangements would promote the safety (including safety from family violence, abuse, neglect, or other harm) of the child; and each person who has care of the child (whether or not a person has parental responsibility for the child),
  • any views expressed by the child,
  • the developmental psychological, emotional and cultural needs of the child,
  • the capacity of each person who has or is proposed to have parental responsibility for the child to provide for the child’s developmental, psychological, emotional and cultural needs,
  • the benefit to the child of being able to have a relationship with the child’s parents, and other people who are significant to the child, where it is safe to do so, and
  • anything else that is relevant to the particular circumstances of the child.

Who do the change apply to?

The majority of the changes coming to the Family Law Act will apply to all new and existing family law matters, unless a final hearing has commenced.

When do the changes take effect?

Most of the above changes will commence and be in full force and effect from 6 May 2024.

The Government has released an Information sheet for parents that details some of the major changes.

If you are unsure how the changes will impact you and your family, please contact our office to arrange a time to discuss with our family law professionals.

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