Recently, the Australian Institute of Family Studies (‘AIFS’) released an Evidence Summary of a study it had conducted in relation to post-separation parenting outcomes. The Evidence Summary provides very interesting statistics regarding family law parenting outcomes that cast some light on the process. While statistics do not always tell the whole truth, they can indicate trends in the family law parenting process that may be helpful when determining the best course of action in your case.
The family law system in Australia is constantly evolving and works to recognise and assist adults and children who have suffered family violence. This year, as many as 70% of all family law matters in the Commonwealth court system involve an allegation of family violence. A particular concern of the Courts is to ensure that children who are exposed to or suffer family violence or abuse are protected as much as possible.
In a recent blog post, we explored the mandatory requirement for parties to attempt to resolve their parenting dispute with the assistance of family dispute resolution (‘FDR’) prior to applying to the court for parenting orders: Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) s 60I(1). However, s 60I(7) provides various exceptions to this mandatory requirement such as the following:
Prior to commencing parenting proceedings, parties must make a “genuine effort” to resolve their parenting dispute with the assistance of family dispute resolution (‘FDR’): Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) s 60I(1). The usual form of FDR that parties engage in is mediation with an accredited FDR practitioner. Often this take places through services such as Relationships Australia, however parties can engage an accredited private mediator (who is often an admitted lawyer) to mediate their dispute as well.
It is not uncommon for a spouse to accumulate debt following separation. If your spouse is partying it up, spending money on extravagant items, selling investments and increasing their credit card debt, it can make the family law property settlement problematic. This is because all assets and liabilities are included in the pool that is to be divided between the parties, and the value is at the current value, not the value at separation. What can be done about debts incurred post separation?
When children are taken and not returned to their usual parent at the agreed upon time and location it can be cause for serious alarm. Questions like “Where are my children?” “Are my children safe?” “How do I get them back?” arise. The Court has a clear process for the recovery of children if children are kidnapped.
The Duty of Disclosure
Every matter involving parenting arrangements is different; they each have their own uniqueness that requires careful consideration by the court. However, across all cases, the court’s key consideration is what is in the best interests of the child.
Last month, the Australian Law Reform Commission (‘ALRC’) released its report, ‘Family Law for the Future – An Inquiry into the Family Law System’ (‘the Report’). The ALRC spent 18 months working on the inquiry, which was headed by the Honourable Justice Sarah Derrington.
With the update of the Family Violence Plan in April 2019, the Courts have continued to recognise the importance of protecting those experiencing family violence, and the detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of separating partners and children in situations of family violence.