“The Australian family law system is bloody awesome”
Said no one ever.
In fact, in 2017 former Chief Justice Diana Bryant said “I feel that the (Family Courts) system is letting the people down” and former Attorney-General, George Brandis agreed noting that “broad consensus (is) that the system is now in many ways dysfunctional and a comprehensive overhaul is needed”.
So what is the system?
Our family law system is underpinned by the principles in our Family Law Act 1975.
The Family Law Act 1975 is the main law on matters involving divorce, property settlement, maintenance and parenting arrangements following the end of a marriage or de facto relationship. The courts that exercise the jurisdiction under the Family Law Act are the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
The system is supposedly designed to encourage separating couples to negotiate their own settlement, and where they are unable to, they can refer their matter to the Courts for judicial determination.
Judges are empowered to make decisions about property and parenting matters. For property matters, they are guided by a four step process which we explain here.
For parenting matters, their scope is far reaching, and goes beyond just determining who children should live with. They can make decisions about travel, relocation and education. They can also decide whether a child should undergo a medical procedure, or have a relationship with a person who has been accused of child abuse, family violence or neglect.