Article Category - Family Law By Beatrice Patterson 06 May 2024

Family Law Amendment Bill 2023

The Family Law Act has been amended, with the new changes to come into effect from 6 May 2024. In this article, we’ve summarised some of the major amendments for you.

What was the purpose of the changes?

The changes were made to clarify the legislation to enable parents to easily interpret the legislative framework and identify what is in their child’s best interests.

A benefit of these changes is that the court is not making any presumption that equal shared parental responsibility (now to be called Joint Responsibility) is in the child’s best interests.  Following from that, if Joint Parental Responsibilities is Ordered, parents will not be burdened by the legislative hurdles of cascading the previous legislative pathway.

Key amendments:

  • Previously a child had a right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents, but it was found to be more important to ensure the child was not exposed to risk. This reference has been removed and instead, the court has outlined all the considerations when determining what is in the child’s best interests, which include the following:
  1. What arrangements promote the safety of the child (and their carers) including family violence, abuse, and neglect;
  2. The child’s views;
  3. Developmental/psychological/cultural needs of the child;
  4. Capacity of the carers to meet the above needs;
  5. Benefits of having a relationship with parents and other significant people;
  6. Is there a history of Family Violence;
  7. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands Consideration; and
  8. Anything else relevant.
  • The presumption of “equal shared parental responsibility” has also been removed. The court will now be able to decide who should hold the parental responsibility (to make decisions about major long-term issues such as schooling), without having to first start at presuming shared care is in the child’s best interests.
  • Insertion of case law principles into the legislation as to how Parenting Orders can be amended, based on the case of Rice and Asplund – being when there has been a significant change of circumstances.
  • The Independent Children’s Lawyers must now meet with all children over the age of 5 (unless in exempt circumstances).
  • Inclusion of two new information sharing Orders, restricting the identity of parties to a proceeding from being published (including on closed Facebook groups!)

There are two different school of thought as to whether these changes will lead to significantly different outcomes or whether “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” However, it is clear that these changes are significant and essential to support victims of domestic violence and Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders in the Family Law system.

For any questions relating to the above changes, or any other Family Law questions, please do not hesitate to contact our expert team on 02 6331 2911.

Beatrice Patterson | Solicitor

Beatrice is the resident family law expert at Kenny Spring and has in-depth experience and knowledge in all areas of family law.

Beatrice is known for her adaptive approach and resolution-focused mindset. She is a powerful advocate for her clients and her wealth of experience and commitment to effective representation and pragmatic solutions make her a trusted ally in family law.

If you, or someone you know needs Beatrice’s help get in touch on (02) 6331 2911 or email