Family law in Australia: how it differs and where it’s heading

Everyone hopes to never need the services of a family law attorney, but sometimes situations escalate to a point where there is no alternative. And if that time does come it helps to understand a little about what to expect and ensure that you secure the services of the best possible family law attorney.

All family law issues are regulated by the Australian Family Law Act, a piece of federal legislation which covers all states in the country. There are three main areas covered by the law: Married and de facto couples, property and financial outcomes and children. Some of the most common legal issues in Australia concern family law, from child support and maintenance to property division, parenting arrangements and divorce.

Divorce is the most common legal issue, and Australian law differs from other countries when it comes to dealing with and resolving divorce cases. Firstly there is a no-fault divorce regime, which means that there is no apportioning of blame when deciding a divorce case. And secondly, the only grounds for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, something that can only be determined once the parties have been living apart for a year.

Australian law also differs from many countries in that it considers couples who live together to have the same rights as a married couple. Compare this to England, for example, where people who live together have no similar rights, and the difference is clear to see.

The Future of Family Law

Under measures introduced by the coalition government earlier this year, Australia looks set for a radical shake up of the family court system. The shake up is set to reduce the ever growing backlog of cases currently being processed by the family court system. Politicians and experts on both sides of the divide recognise that something needs to be done to improve the situation, but until the system has been in place for for a while and the results are plain to see, the debate will continue.

Everybody wants the best for their family and it is easy to understand why matters of the heart are the most painful, disruptive, expensive and exhausting legal cases to resolve. No-one envisages having to face a family member in court, but if it should happen, be sure that you secure the services of an attorney who can guide you through the systems efficiently and effectively and help keep any pain and distress to a minimum.