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Call for family law review submissions

Call for family law review submissions

By Australian Law Reform Commission

Practice & Procedure 

The Australian Law Reform Commission is calling for submissions from family law professionals and those with experience of the family law system. The family law system is undergoing its first, independent comprehensive review since the inception of the Family Law Act more than 40 years ago. The terms of reference for the review recognise that much has changed in Australian social and family life since the creation of the contemporary family law system. Alongside significant changes in patterns of family life and the duration of couple relationships, increasing access to and use of reproductive technology means that families are formed in ways not anticipated when the Family Law Act was developed in 1975. Importantly, research evidence has shown that many of the families who now turn to the family law system for assistance have a range of complex support needs beyond their legal issues. Most couples and families navigate the challenges of relationship breakdown without the support of professional services, but those that do turn to the system often need help with concerns about child safety and a co-occurrence of risk factors, such as family violence, drug or alcohol dependency and serious mental illness. Questions have also been raised about the affordability and accessibility of the system’s services, and about whether more needs to be done to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children is prioritised. Against this background, the ALRC is interested in hearing from stakeholders about a range of issues, including: ways of reducing the costs of services for families how to improve access to services for people from regional, rural and remote areas, and whether there needs to be better support for families in finding information about the family law system how to assist families who need multiple services to navigate these services the experiences of families who are involved with child protection and/or family violence services as well as the family law system and how their engagement with multiple systems might be improved ways of improving the system’s responses to families from diverse groups, including families from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds and people with a disability how to support children’s safe participation in family law processes what changes could be made to the Family Law Act to make it less complex and more readily understandable for people who need to use it ways of improving the system’s capacity to manage ongoing conflict and risks to children what changes to accreditation requirements and governance structures are needed to ensure high quality professional services and continuing improvements to the system. The issues paper provides an overview of key issues under consideration and will seek stakeholder views on particular matters raised in the terms of reference. The ALRC is keen to receive submissions from both family law professionals and those with experience of the family law system. Submissions close on 7 May 2018. Clients of the family law system who wish to share their experience with us outside the formal submission process may do so via the “Tell us your story” portal. Unlike public submissions, these stories will not be published or made publicly available. (They may, however, be subject to FOI requests. Additionally, individuals should carefully consider terms of any order made by a court in relation to any proceeding they are providing information about. There is more information on the website.) The portal can be accessed at, and will close along with formal submissions on 7 May 2018. You can follow the ALRC on Twitter (@AusLawReform) and LinkedIn, and follow the Review via the enews. Subscribe at Tips An issues paper was released on 14 March 2018: It prioritises best interests of children, addressing family violence and child abuse, and supporting families to resolve family law disputes quickly, safely and with minimal financial burden. Submissions are due by 7 May 2018. This column is contributed by the Australian Law Reform Commission

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