Family Law matters are emotional and complicated, especially so if there are children involved. However, new recommendations could change way that courts deal with the treatment of children in divorces in Australia.
The Australian Law Reform Commission has released its report of recommendations for improving the Family Law system. Among their biggest concerns was the treatment of children and young people in Family Law matters.
The report noted that women often have concerns about how the courts deal with violence, abuse, and the safety of their children. It also noted that men often feel that courts grant inadequate time with children, and that parenting orders are not always adequately enforced.
The ALRC emphasised the importance of the best interests of the child, and that they should always be the top priority in separations involving children.
The report put forward a number of recommendations in relation to children in Family Law, including:
- Ensuring that courts continue to put paramount importance on the best interests of the child
- Simplifying the factors that determine ‘best interests’ to include the child’s safety, views, significant relationships, needs and wellbeing, as well as parental capacity
- Promoting child safety by replacing the idea of ‘equal shared parental responsibility’ with a presumption of ‘joint decision making about major long-term issues’
- Improving guidance material for parents or guardians to work out arrangements in the child’s best interests
- For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, enabling courts to consider the child’s connection with community and culture, as well as ATSI concepts of family
- Promoting a less adversarial approach in Family Law, promoting that courts be more child and family focused, protective against family violence, less formal, more accessible for self-represented litigants and connected with support services
Martin Bullock Lawyers is experienced in Family Law matters, and agree that children should always be put first. If you are going through a divorce or separation and need advice or representation, call us on 02 9687 9322.