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SPCA releases detailed Family Law reform measures

The Shared Parenting Council of Australia today released important details in the proposals to implement significant change to what the Executive Secretary has described as a system that is significantly sick and needs urgent attention.

Please feel free to comment in our forums on the proposed reform measures and if you are supporting these changes please discuss with your local Federal Members.

Implement the following presumptions in law

  • A child can expect to have significant, substantial or equal time with their parents after parents separate
  • It is expected that parents will work to set up a contact regime within a week of separating.
  • Mediation through the Family Relationship Centres (FRC) is the preferred option for separating parents, however where parents cannot get agree on contact arrangements with children in a timely manner the following will operate.
Where there are allegations of abuse, alcohol or drug abuse
  • Where there are allegations of abuse, allegations of excess alcohol use, and or drug taking by one parent about the other, these are to be tested in the local courts along the same time lines as the existing ADVO system where an interim order is made pending further examination.
  • Where allegations are found to have been fabricated or are false, then the provisions that operate for APVO matters in NSW viz. s49A (False or misleading applications for apprehended personal violence order) under the NSW Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence ) Act 2007 should be implemented.
    • (This does not mean that allegations, found to have been made in good faith to protect a child will be determined as fabricated and false). It will be for the judicial officer to determine the validity of allegations made.
  • Magistrates and Registrars will adjudicate these matters early within weeks not months and years.
  • Interim contact orders to be made and final orders where practicable and appropriate as determined by the judicial officer.
  • Matters unsuitable for a decision, viz complex parenting matters, matters involving abuse and harm to children as set out by Police, or Government child protection agency, and as well, property matters will be referred to the Federal Circuit Court for a mention within three weeks and if unsuitable for determination at that court will be sent to the Family Court.
  • s117AB to be reintroduced with rework in the Family Law Act concerning allegations.
Where no allegations of abuse, alcohol or drug abuse 
  • Where there are no allegations of abuse, allegations of excess alcohol use, and or drug taking by one parent about the other, AND where parents cannot agree on contact and basic parenting arrangements for children, then these matters are to be referred to the AAT (an Administrative System not a judicial system) for an early decision.
Local Police to enforce orders 
  • Where there is a clear breach of a parenting order the local Police are to, in the first instance attend the parties or contact the parties to enforce the order.
  • Where enforcement cannot be dealt with the matter is to be referred to the AAT for a determination.
  • Where the AAT cannot make a determination due to matters unsuitable for a decision, viz complex parenting matters, matters involving abuse and harm to children as set out by Police, or Government child protection agency, and as well, property matters will be referred to the Federal Circuit Court for a mention within three weeks and if unsuitable for determination at that court will be sent to the Family Court.
Contraventions of Family Court and Federal Circuit Court family orders 
  • Where Police cannot resolve a clear breach of an order, then contraventions are to be sent to and determined at the AAT.
  • The AAT will be expanded, and appropriately trained adjudicators will be appointed, to cover the hearing of contravention matters where orders have not been adhered to. (It is a quick and inexpensive system compared to the existing system.) There may be an opportunity for properly accredited legal professionals who are Senior Paralegals and Registrars with appropriate experience to assist the AAT
The publication provides much greater detail on the key issues.

Attachment
SPCA proposed changes to the family law system


 
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