The Family Law Reform Act 1995: The First Three Years
Australian Family Lawyer: The Journal of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 1-8, 2001
9 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2008
Date Written: 2001
This article describes the main findings of a three-year Australian Research Council funded project examining the operation of the Family Law Reform Act 1995 (Cth), which involved interviews with and surveys of judges, lawyers, court and private counselors and mediators as well as various stakeholders in family law reform. The findings suggest that the law's exhortations to shared parenting are not reflected in flexible work arrangements, nor do they map the reality of the caregiving arrangements among the population of separated parents with children. In particular, the research found that some of the changes made to the statutory scheme resulted in a positive failure to protect the welfare of children adequately.
The research suggested that: new concepts and orders introduced into the Act provided greater scope for harassment of the primary carer or resident parent by the non-resident parent; shared residence arrangements were sometimes made for questionable motives, such as reduction of child support liabilities; and that many women felt coerced into 'consenting' to unsafe contact orders, where there was a risk of violence from the father. A significant finding was the large increase in often non-meritorious applications brought by non-resident parents alleging breach of contact orders.
Keywords: family law, law reform, socio-legal research, "shared parenting", children's welfare, "custody"
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation