The government has made several announcements that will affect the family law system in the 2017 budget. These include a new initiative to help resolve disputes, additional family law consultants, and a trial of domestic violence units. The Australian Law Reform Commission has been asked to conduct a comprehensive review of the family law system and consultation will soon commence in relation to amendments to the Family Law Act 1975.
Parenting management hearings
A new initiative, parenting management hearings will be introduced to reduce family law disputes. The hearings will be established as a forum to resolve family law disputes between self-represented litigants and are designed to be a fast, informal, non-adversarial dispute resolution mechanism. Almost $13 million has been allocated for this purpose.
A trial of domestic violence units in legal centres will commence. Six new specialist domestic violence units will be set up over two years at a cost of $3.4 million.
Review of the family law system
The Australian Law Reform Commission has been asked to conduct a comprehensive review of the family law system. The government announced that the Commission will be asked to identify reforms needed to ensure that the family law system meets the needs of families and addresses family violence and child abuse.
It was announced that consultation will commence shortly regarding proposed amendments to the Family Law Act in relation to family violence. The main purpose of the amendments is to ensure that victims of family violence are not put in a position where they are cross-examined by alleged perpetrators.
These changes will have significant impacts if implemented and it is important that if you have a family law matter that your lawyer is up to date with any legislative changes.