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Navigating Change – Insights into changes to the Family Law Amendment Act 2023

Commencing May 6, 2024, the legal landscape surrounding family matters undergoes a profound shift with the enactment of the Family Law Amendment Act 2023.

Solicitor Director Tara Freeburn heads Commins Hendriks’ family law team and knows the changes coming into play will have an impact on both parents and children. 

“The considerations the Court must have in determining a parenting matter have been quite structured for many years.  However, the landscape is changing with the new reforms, and at least for the foreseeable future, there will be some uncertainty regarding the outcome of contested parenting disputes. We will be reviewing the decisions of the Court with a great deal of interest”.

A notable departure from the prior legal framework, the Family Law Amendment Act 2023 abolishes the presumption of shared responsibility in parenting arrangements. This pivotal change acknowledges the necessity for a more tailored and flexible approach, recognising the distinct circumstances of each family. By discarding the presumption of shared responsibility, there is a focus on the unique dynamics present in individual cases, ensuring that parenting arrangements are devised with a primary focus on the best interests of the child. Without the presumption of equal/shared responsibility, courts are left with a blank canvas to determine what is in the child’s best interest.  This may offer increased protection for victims of family violence as it may be easier to obtain sole parental responsibility orders where family violence has occurred.

There will be a more child-centric approach, with the aim for outcomes that prioritise a child’s safety and well-being. This recognition of the uniqueness of each child underscores the necessity of a personalised approach to parenting arrangements. 

A significant addition, the Family Law Amendment Act 2023 introduces Harmful Proceedings Orders as a mechanism to shield families from detrimental litigation tactics. These orders empower the courts to intervene when one party engages in behaviours that jeopardise the well-being of the child or the fair resolution of the case.

The commencement of the Family Law Amendment Act 2023 on May 6, 2024, signifies a turning point in family law.   The role of a family lawyer is paramount, ensuring parents receive the necessary assistance to navigate these changes and secure the best outcomes for their unique circumstances.   As parents work within these reforms, the guidance of experienced family lawyers becomes increasingly crucial. Tara Freeburn and her team at Commins Hendriks can provide assistance, support, and advocacy, helping parents comprehend the implications of the new reforms and navigate the evolving legal landscape.

The advice provided is general in nature and should not be taken as formal legal advice.