By Gavin Lai – Senior Associate at Emerson Family Law
The Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has introduced the Family Law Amendment (Financial Agreements and Other Measures) Bill 2015 (“the Bill”).
The Bill, if and when passed, will be another significant development in Australian Family Law with proposed changes to the Family Law Act 1975 (“the Act”), which was enacted in 1975 by the Australian government, led by the incumbent Prime Minister at the time, Gough Whitlam.
The Act has been subject to many changes and amendments since its creation.
For example, the 2006 amendments changed the way matters involving children are dealt with. These include:
- A progression towards compulsory mediation (before court proceedings can be filed), in an effort to ensure matters do not proceed to litigation;
- Greater examination of issues involving family violence, child abuse or neglect;
- More importance being placed in the child’s family and social connections;
- A rebuttable presumption that parents have equal shared parental responsibility;
- Encouraging both parents to remain meaningfully involved in their children’s lives following separation, provided there is no risk of violence or abuse.
In particular the Bill, if and when passed, will bring the following changes to the Act:
- Amend the Financial Agreement regime to remove existing uncertainties around requirements for entering, interpreting, and enforcing agreements;
- Make changes to the coverage of spousal maintenance matters in agreements;
- Provide for a statement of principles to outline their binding nature and to reinforce the binding nature of the agreements;
- Strengthen protection from violence in certain procedural matters;
- Strengthen Australia’s response to international child abduction;
- Update the arrest powers of the Family Court; and
- Assist the operation of the Family Law Courts; and
- Minor technical amendments.
If you would like further information regarding the Bill and/or if you require family law assistance/advice please contact us on (07) 3211 4920 today to speak to a specialist family lawyer about your matter.