Family Law News

This page is dedicated to bringing you up-to-date news relevant to Family Law in Australia.

"Child abductions will continue to happen as Australia increases its international ties."

"The situation in Lebanon – where mother Sally Faulkner, alongside a 60 Minutes film crew, made a failed attempt to recover her children from their Lebanese father – highlights the difficulties facing separated Australian parents where one or both parents have connections with a country other than Australia."

Source and further reading: Article by Matthew Shepherd of Shepherds Family Law in smh.com.au

'The system is failing the children of this state': most child abuse cases closed early, says PSA

"Only 30 per cent of NSW's most serious child abuse cases are fully investigated with a visit by a case worker because of staff shortages, says the Public Service Association, which represents social workers.

That means as many as 70 per cent of cases potentially like Kiesha Weippeart's may be closed without a visit from a social worker."

"We clearly have a social problem of failing to support families and we are stripping away institutional support."

Read full article: smh.com.au, June 26, 2013

Domestic violence victim aid gets $18m boost

"Kay Schaubach knew the beatings were getting worse, so she went to police for help. But the 50-year-old retracted her statements when her partner threatened her family and friend's children.

Her trauma only ended when she was almost killed in her home.

''I would have loved some more support, someone to hold my hand through the system,'' she said.

NSW Minister for Women Pru Goward on Tuesday announced reforms to ensure victims of domestic violence are helped long before they get into that position."

Read full article: smh.com.au, June 26, 2013

Protecting our children will always be at the heart of family law

"IT WOULD be nice to think that family violence does not occur, but the reality is that half of the cases that enter the Family Court system will involve allegations by one or both parents that the other has been violent.

Violence against children is damaging and devastating. We know that when children are exposed to violence they are more likely to suffer behavioural problems, anxiety and lower self-esteem than their peers. These problems can lead to learning difficulties, depression and social problems. Some children exposed to violence have higher levels of aggression.

Some go on to abuse substances such as alcohol as adults.

This is why the government has changed Australia's family laws to help the court to do more to protect children who are exposed to family violence."

Nicola Roxan reports in smh.com.au, June 3 2013

Federal Magistrates Court of Australia re-named the Federal Circuit Court of Australia

"As a result of legislative amendments which recognise the work and status of the Court, the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia is to be known as the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and its judicial officers known as Judges of that Court.

It is expected that these changes will commence on 12 April 2013.

The name of the Court more accurately reflects the Court’s significant role as a federal court. The inclusion of ‘circuit’ to the name highlights the importance of the Court’s circuit work in regional areas and its broad Commonwealth jurisdiction in both family law and general federal law."

Reference: Family Law Courts

Victims quizzed by attackers 'due to legal aid cuts'

"Retired chief justice Alastair Nicholson says men accused of physically or sexually abusing their partners are able to directly cross-examine their victim in court due to a lack of legal representation.

He says the situation is widespread, unacceptable and is affecting the rights of women and children.

Legal aid groups say it is so traumatising that some women are too frightened to leave their abusive partners and go through the Family Court system."

Reference and full article: Sally Sara, abc.net.au, April 8, 2013

Changes to family law fees from 1 January 2013

The family law fees are fixed by Federal Government regulations. A full table of fees can be found on the Family Law Courts website.

Reference: Family Law Courts

Third Edition Family Violence Best Practice Principles

"Protecting families and particularly children who are engaged with the family law system from the effects of family violence is a priority for the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court. The revised Family Violence Best Practice Principles assists in this critically important task by acting as a checklist of matters that judges, court staff, legal professionals and litigants may wish to have regard to at each stage of the case management process in disputes involving children.

The Best Practice Principles were released by the Attorney-General in March 2009 and a revised version, encompassing both the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court, was launched by the Attorney-General in July 2011.

This third edition of the Family Violence Best Practice Principles takes into account recent amendments made by the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2011 (Cth), the preponderance of which came into effect on 7 June 2012.

Those amendments are designed to provide better protection for children and families at risk of violence and abuse. They seek to achieve this objective by:

The Family Violence Best Practice Principles have been revised and updated to reflect these changes to the law."

Reference and more information: Family Law Courts

Christine Bennett offers Family Dispute Resolution and Relationship Counselling in Crows Nest, Central Coast NSW and online.