Published on 13 March 2018.
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The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has released an Issues Paper for its Review of the Family Law System, and is calling for submissions from the public.

The family law system is undergoing its first, independent comprehensive review since the inception of the Family Law Act 1975 more than forty years ago.

Much has changed in Australian social and family life since then. For example, there are more people living together outside marriage, there are more changes in relationships and stepfamilies, reproductive technologies mean families can be formed in diverse ways, same-sex marriage is now legalised, and there is greater awareness of the prevalence of family violence and child abuse and the damage they can cause.

The wide ranging Terms of Reference ask the ALRC to consider the need for reform in relation to areas that include:

  • appropriate early and cost-effective resolution of all family law disputes;
  • the protection of the best interests of children and their safety;
  • the best ways to inform decision makers about the best interests of children and their views;
  • family violence and child abuse, including protection for vulnerable witnesses;
  • laws in relation to parenting and property division after separation.

The Issues Paper released today provides discussion of issues identified in the Terms of Reference, and asks questions about how they could be addressed.

The ALRC invites submissions in response to the 47 questions and analysis in the Issues Paper, which is available on the ALRC website at alrc.gov.au/publications.

People who have had recent experiences with the system have an opportunity to share these with the ALRC anonymously through a Tell Us Your Story portal on the ALRC website - www.alrc.gov.au/content/tell-us-your-story.

The Review of the Family Law System was referred to the ALRC by the Hon George Brandis QC, former Attorney-General, in September 2017. The Hon John Faulks and Mr Geoffrey Sinclair have been appointed Part-Time Commissioners to assist Lead ALRC Commissioner, Professor Helen Rhoades and the ALRC team.

Submissions are due to the ALRC by 7 May 2018.

To keep in touch with the Inquiry, please subscribe to the Inquiry e-news at www.alrc.gov.au/inquiries/family-law-system/subscribe-e-news