Changes to family law as a response to changing values in the community/role of law reform in achieving just outcomes for family/ effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses in achieving just outcomes for family members The family law act 1975 introduced major change to divorce law on 14 grounds of infidelity, cruelty and desertion.
In 1975 saw a major reform in family law, as the family law act introduced no fault divorce meaning that neither party were to blame for the breakdown of the marriage.One party had to tell the other and separate for a period of 12 months, then apply for an application with family law court for dissolution of the marriage. The change in law was a reaction to changing social values depicted from society, this highlighting the effectiveness of the reform as the Family Law Act responds to changing values in society. In 2005 saw the Federal government decide to assist couples need of counselling and mediation by establishing special family relationship centres. Federal government 2005 decided to assist couples need of counselling and mediation by establishing special family relationship centres.Two fundamental issues in relation to divorce are that the children will live with and what contact they will have with the non-resident parent and how property will be divided. The Family Law Act often emphasises “the best interest of the child” as divorce can have an enormous impact on a child. The act ensures that children have benefit to both parents as well as protecting children from physical or psychological harm or being subject to abuse, neglect or family violence.
Parents must fulfil their duties and meet responsibilities concerning care, welfare and development of children.The Federal magistrates courts is generally required to make an order for equal shared parental responsibility, but that is dependent on the best interest of the child. The court strongly wishes for children to have quality and a regular relationship with their father, thus, spending two out of every three weekends with their father. Diving property is covered in section 79 and section 75 of the Family Law Act. If a couple can reach an agreement on how property is to be divided before going to court they can apply for a Consent Order.In New South Wales de facto couples can approach the District court to gain a property settlement Recent changes to law allow for the future needs of the de facto partners to be taken into account in property settlements. Problems can occur when partner hides property or sells property to friend at low price before the divorce.
Domestic violence occurs between family members; married or de facto couples and or their children. There have been cases where women have been subject to domestic violence and have killed their spouse, (R. v Heather Osland 1996).Battered woman’s syndrome’ is a complex of psychological adaptations that lead women to kill, which can now be used as self-defence and provocation. The courts are becoming more willing to accept evidence of ‘BWS’ as a partial defence for murder, evidence of growing recognition by the law of the effects of domestic violence. Amendment to the Crimes act 1990 meant that children and adults would be protected from abuse. Legislative response to domestic violence was the creation of the Periodic Detention of Prisoners (domestic violence) Amendment act 1982 (weekend detentions for offenders).
There have been significant amendments to the New South Wales legislation; the crimes act 1990 was amended in 1994 to make stalking and intimidation a criminal offence with penalties up to five years. An apprehended domestic violence order ADVO is to stop the perpetrator from inflicting violence or causing a family member to fear violence. 1988 February, extended to include family members, ex partners, boyfriends and persons living in same household. 1990 saw legislation broadened to create an equivalent apprehended personal order for people fearing attack.In the 1990’s the family court recognised the higher risk of violence at times of separation and also the effect of violence upon children.
Other remedies to deal with domestic violence include the use of ADVO’s, which attract media attention. Changes introduced in the family law reform act 1995 require the court to consider family violence and the impact on the residential parent of a child’s continued contact with violent ex. Criticism of this means that the children may be more exposed to domestic violence.The family court of Australia was established in 1975 with its jurisdiction determined by section 51 of Australian constitution. Includes areas on marriage, divorce and children. The courts deal with matters relating to parenting cases involving multiple parties, child welfare and or allegation of sexual, physical abuse and family violence.
Parenting cases where the orders sought have the effect of preventing a parent from communicating with or spending time with a child, international child and abduction and financial cases involve multiple parties or issues.The establishment of Family Relationship Centres in 2006 and the operation of the Federal magistrates court has increased the availability of mediation services for family. This allowed for the Family court to concentrate on more complex family law disputes. The family law reform act 1995 focuses on resolving marital disputes, with counselling, mediation and arbitration as primary dispute resolution methods.
Family law amendment act 2006 couples must attempt mediation or dispute resolution with limited exceptions before going to court.Court can order spouses or partners to see a counsellor at any time during legal proceedings. Criticisms of family court is that the adversarial nature of legal proceedings often intensifies the conflict between the parties, thus this leading to the use of mediation as alternative means. The new family relationship centres being established by the federal government are designed to encourage mediation of family disputes and avoid costly and time-consuming court cases.
A wide range of community organisations provides family support. Assistance is available when there is conflict in the home; children with special needs, financial hardship and couples decide to separate. Refuges and other short-term accommodation are available for women in abusive relationships Fathers believe that courts often favour women. Several support groups have been established for men including “dads in distress”, which provides support during the court process.In contrast, women have several groups for support such as “The women’s legal centre” which is a strong advocate to increase protection for women living in violence. The media can draw the attention of the public to perceived injustices in the system. Media has helped to harden community resolve against domestic violence, highlighting the abuse women had suffered led to changes in social attitudes towards violence in the home and more enforcement of courts relating to domestic violence.