Date published: Friday 8 December 2017
The Government has introduced into parliament two bills changing the Family Law Act to implement policy announcements included in the 2017 Budget.
The Family Violence and Other Measures Bill will allow family law matters involving domestic violence to be handled in a single state, territory or Commonwealth court in circumstances where at present they could be spread across a number of jurisdictions.
According to the bill’s Explanatory Memorandum the changes “would enhance the capacity of the family law system to provide effective outcomes for people who are experiencing family violence. In particular, it aims to reduce the need for families to interact with multiple courts across the federal family law and state or territory family violence and child protection systems.”
The Parenting Management Hearings Bill establishes a Parenting Management Hearings Panel to provide an alternative, less formal and lower-cost forum than Family Law Courts to resolve family law disputes involving custody and related matters.
Parties will only be able to use the Panel alternative if both sides agree and matters will be resolved without legal representation. Panels can make binding administrative orders on parenting arrangements for children similar to ‘parenting orders’ made by the Family Court
Both bills were introduced in the Senate and will be debated next year.