Review of Family Law Act Welcomed
19th September 2017
One of the most significant reviews of Australia’s Family Law Act in 40 years has been endorsed by the outgoing Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant AO.
In an interview with Fairfax Media she noted the need for a “thorough overhaul” of the structure of the Act and that attention should be given to making it “a much more comprehensive statute to read”.
“This task will be considerable in itself,” the Chief Justice told Fairfax in an article featured in the legal publication Lawyers Weekly. Pullos Lawyers supports the review of the Family Law Act and is sharing this information as we believe the wider community needs to be aware of the changes.
Attorney-General George Brandis announced plans for the review during the Federal Budget in May, and revealed that the Commonwealth would commit an additional $80 million to family law and family violence services.
Of that allocation, $12.7 million will establish parent management hearings and $3.56 million will go towards the pilot of new specialist domestic violence units.
Mr Brandis said in a statement that the review would be used to “contemporise” the family law system, with a final report due in 2018 that provides a roadmap for making dispute resolution simpler.
The extra resourcing for the Family Court system was welcome by the outgoing Chief Justice, who will retire in October. She applauded the funding made available for an extra 17 family consultants to support the Family Court, Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of WA; as well as support for a trial workload management program boasting three new registrars.
“I am hoping we can demonstrate the usefulness of this resource and make a case for additional registrars when the evaluation concludes,” the Chief Justice said.
“There is a compelling need to provide resources to support the judges.”
Family lawyers across Australia have also welcomed the measures and the extent to which the additional resources can alleviate pressures on the courts.
Cassandra Pullos says family law specialists would support measures which reduce congestion and pressure on the Family Court because, by extension, they could ease the process of separation for couples.
In particular she strongly supports measures that ensure the best interests of children are protected during the divorce process.
“Too often children are the unseen casualties of divorce wars fought by their parents, which is why an increasing number of family law specialists advocate the Collaborative Law approach to separation.
“Under this method couples resolve to find agreements outside the court system, mindful that it can take several years for a divorce to make its way through the Family Court logjam. This can impose enormous pressures on the children of separating partners.”
Terms of reference for the comprehensive review are expected to be made available by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) soon. It will be the first major review of the legislation since it was introduced in 1976.