Navigating the Latest Family Law Changes. What You Need to Know

Navigating the Latest Family Law Changes. What You Need to Know

New family law court changes Sydney

What’s Changing?

The changes that came into effect on 6 May 2024 mainly revolve around parenting matters and the best interests of the child.

This covers various issues, including what the Court considers when determining a child’s best interests and how separated parents handle long-term issues.

Key Changes to the Family Law Act 1975

The Family Law Amendment Act 2023 and Family Law Amendment (Information Sharing) Act 2023, passed by the Australian Parliament on 19 October 2023, bring significant changes to family law, primarily focusing on parenting matters and information sharing regarding family violence and child protection. These changes were set to commence on 6 May 2024.

Key changes include:

1. Parenting matters

New and amended laws under sections 60B, 60CC, 61CA, 61D (3), and 61DAA dictate what courts must consider when determining the best interests of a child and how separated parents make decisions about major long-term issues such as education, healthcare, and religion.

2. Parenting – decision making

Introduction of a shorter list of factors for courts to consider, new sections 61CA, 61D(3) and 61DAA on decision-making about major long-term issues, and removal of the presumption of equal shared responsibility.

3. Expanded definitions of family

Inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander concepts of family within the definitions under section 4(1AB) of ‘relative’ and ‘member of the family.’

4. Independent Children’s Lawyers (ICL):

Requirement for ICL’s to meet directly with children over 5 years old, to give them an opportunity to express their view, unless exceptional circumstances apply.

5. Harmful litigation

New powers for the courts to prevent harmful litigation under Part XIB, Division 1B where it may cause harm to a party or a child. That harm includes psychological harm and a detrimental effect on the capacity to care for a child.

6. Compliance and enforcement of parenting orders

The process for enforcing parenting orders has been simplified and some powers extended to Judicial Registrars.

7. Information Sharing

The Family Law Amendment (Information Sharing) Act 2023 enhances the sharing of child abuse, neglect, and family violence risk information among relevant agencies.

8. Forms and Procedures

Court forms have been reissued to reflect changes in the law, and parties should use updated forms from 6 May 2024.

These amendments aim to improve outcomes for children in family law matters and enhance collaboration among relevant agencies to address family violence and child protection concerns.

Practical Tips for You

Whether you’re in the middle of a parenting matter or contemplating filing one, timing is crucial.

Here are some practical tips for navigating through these changes:

  • Already have a case in the works? You’ll need to ensure your submissions and orders align with the new laws.
  • Confused about forms and procedures? The team at SB Family Lawyers can help you. Additionally, the Court has provided updated forms reflecting the changes. Just make sure you’re using the latest version of the forms from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website.
  • Seek legal advice to understand how the changes specifically apply to your situation and ensure that your submissions and orders sought align with the new laws.
  • Remember, existing court orders remain valid, so continue to abide by them unless modified by the court under the new provisions.
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