The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.
Canberra, A.C.T. : Australian Government, 2021.
This is the Australian Government's response to an inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission. In 2017, the Attorney-General asked the Commission to conduct what was the first comprehensive review into the family law system since the commencement of the Family Law Act in 1976. This response details the government's position on each of the Commission's 60 recommendations for reform, and also highlights reforms and initiatives undertaken since the inquiry report was submitted in 2019. The Government finds the inquiry made many practical and well-considered recommendations, but calls for further consultation with stakeholders on many of the issues.
Canberra : Parliament House, 2021.
A Parliamentary Joint Select Committee was established in 2019 to investigate a range of issues associated with the appropriateness, effectiveness and impacts of the family law system. This report presents their second interim findings and recommendations, with the final report expected on 30 June 2021. The second interim report focused on issues relating to delays, costs, family violence, parenting and property matters, and support services and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. The interim report makes 29 recommendations, including: a single point of entry into the family law system, to facilitate effective triage and case management; new research to be conducted into how to make the courts less adversarial and involve the voice of children; and regular training for all family law professionals into issues including family violence, child abuse, trauma informed practice, and unconscious bias.
Sydney, NSW : Uniting, 2020.
This paper explores best practice in counselling and mediation for separated parents, drawing on the literature and a case study of Uniting services in New South Wales. It summarises learnings from a four-part research project, which investigated: current knowledge on the principles of best practice; how services can measure their impact and the challenges involved; and the impact of Uniting's services, including the factors that contribute to success, whether outcomes vary between groups or by gender, whether services are aligned to need, cost-effectiveness, and the fit between the existing evidence base and Uniting's current practice. The study involved a rapid review, interviews with staff, a survey of clients, and a review of Uniting's policy and practice documents.
Adelaide Law Review v. 41 no. 1 2020: 149-178
In Australia, before parties can take a parenting matter to court, they must either attempt family dispute resolution (FDR) or apply for an exemption from FDR. Certificates of exemption can be issued for several reasons, one of which is that the family dispute resolution practitioner believed it was inappropriate in that particular case. This enables cases to be screened out where the parties cannot negotiate freely or FDR would be unsafe, such as for family violence, but it is vitally important that this exemption is consistently applied. This article looks into concerns that practitioners are often confused about how the FDR regulations should be interpreted in practice. It reviews the FDR legislative framework, discusses what research is available on how it is applied, and considers different theoretical approaches to interpretation. The article argues that the regulations need to be interpreted narrowly, and sets out the factors that practitioners can (and cannot) consider when making assessments.
International Journal of Law in Context v. 16 no. 2 Jun 2020: 197-215
This article is part of a special issue on alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and focuses on its use in the family law system. The introduction of 'no fault' divorce in Australia 40 years ago has introduced a less adversarial and more collaborative problem-solving approach to family disputes. The article highlights this change on the family law system and several legislative amendments that demonstrate the use of alternative dispute resolution as a means of improving access to justice, including of family dispute resolution. It concludes by arguing that justice and ADR are inextricably linked in the family law system today, and considers the possible impact of current family law inquiries.
Canberra : Parliament House, 2020.
A Parliamentary Joint Select Committee was established in 2019 to investigate a range of issues associated with the appropriateness, effectiveness and impacts of the family law system. As the inquiry has been granted an extension, this interim report has been prepared to summarise the wide range of views and issues raised during public consultations so far. No recommendations are presented at this stage. The report provides a brief overview of the family law system and the courts, summarises the reforms to the Family Law Act since its introduction, then provides a snapshot of the issues raised in the many individual submissions in the inquiry. These include perceptions of bias, the role of family consultants and expert witnesses, whether the adversarial nature of the family law courts could be improved, misuse of systems and processes, professional misconduct, legal fees and costs, delays in the court system, family violence and parental alienation, custody and enforcement, parenting matters, the division of property, child support and its interaction with the family law system, support services within the family law system, and alternative dispute resolution.
Australian Family Lawyer v. 29 no. 2 Jul 2020: 24-27
This special edition looks at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on family law procedures and proceedings around the country. In this article, a Family Dispute Resolution practitioner considers the impact of COVID-19 on family law dispute resolution, innovative responses from the sector, and the learnings and benefits found. Overall, this practitioner has found the COVID-19 dispute resolution experience to be positive, with disputes successfully resolved online, often efficiently and with reduced costs. However, there are also some downsides to keep in mind.
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, January 2020.
This is the submission from the Australian Institute of Family Studies to the Joint Select Committee on Australia's Family Law System. The Committee was established in 2019 to investigate a range of issues associated with the appropriateness, effectiveness and impacts of the family law system, following on from the 2018 review. This submission highlights findings from the Institute's work that relate to the Committee's terms of reference, including: interaction and information-sharing between systems and jurisdictions, court powers in relation to the provision of evidence, court reform: capacity to deal with complex issues, legal costs in property matters, family law support services and family dispute resolution (FDR), family law impacts on children and families, grandparent carers, improving performance of family law system professionals, family law and child support systems: interactions, and pre-nuptial agreements. Together, the work of the Institute demonstrates the need for a system that: is trauma-informed and child-inclusive, provides effective client support and dispute resolution services, and is delivered by family law professionals with the skills to secure the safety and best interests of children and their families.
"This thesis explores the child inclusive practices in high conflict post-separation family dispute resolution (FDR) of five Family Relationship Centres, managed by Relationships Australia New South Wales (RANSW). This thesis develops a situated ethical framework for child inclusion informed by a feminist ethics of care, and proposes good practice principles towards the development of meaningfully inclusive processes. Child inclusive practice (CIP) is a model of post-separation FDR that was developed in Australia in the early 2000s that involves direct consultation with children to inform parenting agreements. Following significant reforms to the Australian Family Law Act (1975) in 2006, the Federal Government established a national network of 65 Family Relationship Centres (FRCs) to provide affordable FDR, managed by existing non-government organisations. FRC practitioners, who were drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, were trained and encouraged to use CIP. However, there was very little guidance given in legislation, professional frameworks or broader FRC policy regarding the implementation of CIP. As a result, organisations were under no compulsion to include children in FDR, and a wide range of practice approaches developed. This qualitative, empirical study explores FRC practitioners' approaches to child inclusive practice, within a single case study organisation (RANSW). A total of 27 participants across multiple organisational roles engaged in in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Constructivist grounded theory was utilised in data analysis, revealing the 'hidden ethical voice' of practitioners, uncovering three very different ethical orientations towards child inclusion. In the absence of organisational criteria, practitioners had developed their own decision-making frameworks for screening cases into CIP. However, findings show these criteria were inconsistently applied and highly dependent on the individual workers' ethical orientation towards CIP. Theories of professional social care ethics are applied to demonstrate how a dual emphasis on care and social justice, within the exercise of critical reflexivity, provides a helpful path towards 'good practice'."--Author abstract.
Perth, WA : Family Court of Western Australia, 2019.
This annual report provides information on the activities and workload of the Family Court of Western Australia for the year 2018 calendar year. Topics include: judiciary and staffing, divorce applications, parenting and financial orders, self-representation, clearance rate and finalisation time, appeals, The Family Court Counselling and Consultancy Service (FCCCS), Case Assessment Conference (CAC), court services, and committees. 2018 saw the highest number of final order applications (3,112) and interim applications (5,341) filed in the Court in the last decade, with a significant impact on the Court's workload and clearance rates. 5,408 divorce applications were also received in this period.
Peer-reviewed papers from the FRSA 2019 National Conference : new horizons - building the future, paving the way. Fyshwick, ACT : Family & Relationship Services Australia, 2019: 52-59
This paper describes a new tool used to screen clients in relationship counselling or Family Dispute Resolution services, to help identify risk of harm. Relationships Australia (South Australia) is using Family DOORS, adapted from the Family Law DOORS framework developed for legal practitioners. The paper highlights the importance of universal risk screening in post-separation settings and describes how the tool works in practice, then discusses findings from the first 675 clients screened using Family DOORS. The assessment identified high levels of past abuse and current risks of violence, as well as other concerns such as risky alcohol or drug use, parenting stress, child protection notifications about their children, and current suicidal thoughts. The findings highlight that universal screening should be seen as essential in counselling services just as it is in post-separation FDR services.
Peer-reviewed papers from the FRSA 2019 National Conference : new horizons - building the future, paving the way. Fyshwick, ACT : Family & Relationship Services Australia, 2019: 42-51
This paper describes how one family relationship centre developed an additional family dispute resolution pathway to provide specialised emotional support for parents. Interrelate Newcastle had found many clients were failing to resolve their separation-related disputes and so designed a new service stream to enable parents to arrive at an emotionally available place where they were able to negotiate from a child focused platform and develop a workable coparenting plan. The new FDR pathway involved embedding a specialist Family Counsellor trained child consultant into the centre who would work alongside parents individually whilst heading towards mediation. This paper discusses the development of the new approach, the importance of child inclusive therapy and promoting the best interests of the child, the underlying trauma informed bottom up approach, how the new pathway operates in practice, and evaluation findings from a study of a small sample of clients.
Australian Journal of Family Law v. 33 no. 1 Jun 2019: 29-50
Family law in Australia requires separating couples to attempt mediation before they can go to court, with a family dispute resolution certifying whether the couple made a genuine attempt to resolve their dispute or not. This article reviews this process and raises concerns over issues of impartiality, coercion, confidentiality, and defining 'genuine' effort. It argues that though the requirement of mandatory family dispute resolution should remain, certificates of effort should be abolished as being inherently unworkable, unfair and reductive.
Australian Journal of Family Law v. 33 no. 1 Jun 2019: 1-28
This article investigates whether parents in parenting cases involving family violence are attending family dispute resolution services, providing insights into the sources from which family violence evidence can be gathered and whether concerns over confidentiality are warranted. It analyses 414 cases heard before a Federal Circuit Court judge in New South Wales over 3 months, comparing whether the parties had attended family dispute resolution or obtained an exception, whether a notice of risk regarding an allegation of family violence had been filed, and whether a family violence order had been made. The article discusses attendance rates, candour in disclosure, engagement with other service, such as the police, health services or counselling, and confidentiality. The data indicate that parties with family violence allegations rarely attend family dispute resolution, and that most of those who do have already disclosed the allegations to another service.
Southbank, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2019.
Over the past 10 years, the Australian Institute of Family Studies has conducted several large-scale studies involving nationally representative samples of separated parents. This paper highlights the findings relating to parenting arrangements after separation. It provides information on the most common parenting arrangements after separation, how common it is for parents to go to court, and what court orders are made for custody. There is considerable variation in the ways that families arrange their children's care after separation, with issues such as the children's age and the parents' working patterns playing a significant role in decision making. Most parents (97%) don't go to court to make these arrangements: they decide matters between themselves, and only about 6% consult lawyers to help them make arrangements. Many of cases that do go to court often involve complex issues such as family violence or mental health issues.
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2019.
A review is underway into the impact of the 2014 reforms to the family justice system in New Zealand. Those reforms aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes and improve the services and processes available to separating parents for resolving disputes about care. As part of the review, this paper outlines suggestions for possible change and invites feedback from the community. This is a second community consultation, following on from an initial consultation in 2018 that asked for feedback on what was working well and what wasn't. The review panel considers that the Family Court and related services should work in a joined-up way that is accessible and responsive to families' different needs, and presents suggested reforms relating to child safety, accessible information, counselling and therapeutic intervention, the Parenting Through Separation service, Family Dispute Resolution, legal advice and representation, Without Notice applications, triaging, complex cases, a Family Justice Service Coordinator role, a new Senior Family Court Registrar role, the Lawyer for Child, psychological reports, and costs.
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2019.
A review is underway into the impact of the 2014 reforms to the family justice system in New Zealand. Those reforms aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes and improve the services and processes available to separating parents for resolving disputes about care. As part of the review, two rounds of public consultation were held aimed at identifying what's been working well and what hasn't. This paper summarises the themes raised in the second round of consultations, which sought feedback on some early proposals for reform made by the review. 138 submissions and meetings were made, regarding such matters as child safety, accessible information, counselling and therapeutic intervention, the Parenting Through Separation service, Family Dispute Resolution, legal advice and representation, Without Notice applications, triaging, complex cases, Family Justice Service Coordinator, Senior Family Court Registrar, Lawyer for Child, psychological reports, and costs.
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2019.
A review is underway into the impact of the 2014 reforms to the family justice system in New Zealand. Those reforms aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes and improve the services and processes available to separating parents for resolving disputes about care. As part of the review, two rounds of public consultation were held aimed at identifying what's been working well and what hasn't. This paper summarises the themes raised in the first round of consultations, held from September to October 2018. 510 submissions were received, including from small group meetings, involving parents, children, extended family, court staff, and related professionals. The report outlines common themes, sets out the feedback from submitters on specific family justice processes, and summarises submissions from key demographic groups. Consistently raised issues include the heavy impact of using the family justice system, the delays and barriers, and the increasingly complexity of disputes - helping to highlight the key elements of a better justice system.
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2019.
A review is underway into the impact of the 2014 reforms to the family justice system in New Zealand. Those reforms aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes and improve the services and processes available to separating parents for resolving disputes about care. This qualitative study was commissioned to help inform the review. It investigates families' experiences of the post-2014 services, with the aim of identifying what is working well and what could be improved and any unintended consequences of the reforms. A particular focus was the views of children and young people, Maori parents, Pasifika parents, and parents with disabilities. Interviews were conducted with 34 with parents and 13 young people. The main report presents the findings, key insights, and recommendations of the study; the appendix features methodological information and additional findings relating to specific professionals, namely the Lawyer for Child, counsellors, psychologists, judges, and mediators. Overall, both parents and children found the family justice system to be arduous, confusing, disempowering, and intimidating - highlighting areas for reform.
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2019.
A suite of reforms was implemented in the family justice in New Zealand in 2014 that aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes. This report presents the findings and recommendations of an independent panel established to evaluate these reforms, focusing in particular on changes to services that help with care of child disputes, including the Family Court, the Family Dispute Resolution service, Parenting Through Separation (PTS) parenting courses and counselling. The panel investigated: the effectiveness of out of court services; the effectiveness of Family Court processes, particularly given the significant increase in the number of urgent/without notice applications; the roles of the professionals, including children's lawyers, family dispute resolution providers and psychologists; and whether the system as a whole is producing outcomes that are upholding the welfare and best interests of children. The panel concludes that elements of the 2014 reforms must be changed to strengthen and integrate the system, and proposes the development of a joined-up family justice service, to be called Te Korowai Ture a-Whanau. Background research, including qualitative interviews with parents and summaries of consultations, have also been published.
Family law for the future - an inquiry into the family law system. Brisbane, Qld. : Australian Law Reform Commission, 2019: 79-110
This chapter presents a statistical overview of the work of the family court system. It collates various data sources on the number and characteristics of families that enter the family law system and how their cases are resolved. Data is provided on: case load, family dispute resolution, matters filed in the courts, matters that resolve at trial, attrition, participants in the family law system, decision makers, provision of legal services, court services, family law support services, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, court delay, family violence and abuse, notices of risk, and Magellan matters. Most families that separate resolve their disputes without recourse to the family law system: up to 70% of separating families work out their own parenting arrangements and up to 40% settle the division of their property through discussion. Furthermore, the vast majority of matters that enter the family law system will settle before judgment.
Sydney, NSW : CCH Australia, 2019.
Written for lawyers, counsellors, finance industry professionals, and students, this reference guide explains legislation, relevant case law, and legal procedures in Australian family law. Sections include: children; property; financial agreements; financial support for children; de facto relationships; and court processes, evidence and costs - all updated to reflect amendments and case law interpretations since the 2017 edition. Chapters include: Commonwealth, states, family law legislation and courts; Legal practice matters: client interview and drafting affidavits; Divorce; Shared parental responsibility; Dispute resolution and family relationship centres; Parenting orders, plans and guidelines; Principles the court must consider when conducting child-related proceedings; Major long-term issues (including paternity testing, changing a child's name, and relocation); Child abduction; Order enforcement and non-compliance in children's cases; Children and relationship factors (including drug use, family violence and child abuse, parental alienation syndrome); Surrogacy; Property; Maintenance; Bankruptcy and third parties; Corporations and trusts; Taxation considerations; Property orders; Superannuation; Financial agreements; Child support and maintenance; De facto relationships; Evidence; Court procedure; and Costs.
Melbourne, Vic. : Victoria Legal Aid, 2019.
The Family Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS) of Victoria Legal Aid has developed a framework for providing culturally secure and safe family dispute resolution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. This document sets out the purpose of the framework and its five key focus areas. It also notes the consultation process used to the framework and how it will be evaluated. It is hoped this framework will help encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to use FDRS service to resolve their family law disputes.
Subiaco, WA : Commissioner for Children and Young People WA, 2019.
This paper presents the views of children and young people in Western Australia on what they found helpful during family separation and any ideas they have to improve the experience. Consultations were held with 12 young people aged 12-20 years old, regarding the support young people received from family and friends during and after their parents' separation; the efficacy and quality of support provided by family law and other professionals; what was particularly helpful or challenging throughout the process; and the various consultation mechanisms that were offered. The paper discusses family law and family courts in Western Australia, issues raised by families during separation, and Australian research on the participation of children in matters affecting them, then outlines the themes raised by the young people during the consultations. This paper was prepared as a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission's current review into the family law system, and the paper concludes by considering the findings in light of the issues raised by the review. Children and young people have a right to be listened to and to contribute to decision-making in families, and the ALRC review is a positive opportunity to ensure these rights are recognised and acted upon.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy v. 40 no. 1 Mar 2019: 8-23
This is an edited version of a speech given by Family Circuit Court Judge Harman at the 2018 Family and Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) Conference. Judge Harman highlights the important role of facilitative dispute resolution in providing an alternative to the adversarial litigation processes of the courts, and considers the extent to which this is being achieved and supported by the family law system. Judge Harman argues that strengthening and preserving families and co-parenting relationships is too important to allow the benefits of family dispute resolution to be other than fully achieved. The right of children to grow up in a living and understanding atmosphere, and the role of alternative dispute in complementing and alleviating the work of the courts, is also discussed.
Brisbane, Qld. : Australian Law Reform Commission, 2019.
This paper summarises the findings and recommendations of the landmark review of the family law system in Australia. The review was commissioned in 2017 by the Attorney-General to ensure that the family law system meets the contemporary needs of families and effectively addresses family violence and child abuse. It discusses the case for reform, terms of reference, and overarching principles and provides an overview of the separate sections of the full report. Proposals include a comprehensive redraft of the Family Law Act, the requirement that parties take genuine steps to attempt to resolve their dispute prior to filing an application, considering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's connection to culture and country when making decisions, and handing control over the family law system to the states and territories, with the aim of improving the handling of domestic violence and child protection cases.
Brisbane, Qld. : Australian Law Reform Commission, 2019.
In 2017, the Attorney-General asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to conduct the first comprehensive review into the family law system since the commencement of the Family Law Act in 1976, with a view to making necessary reforms to ensure the family law system meets the contemporary needs of families and effectively addresses family violence and child abuse. This report presents the findings and recommendations of this review. The terms of reference asked the review to consider whether, and if so what, reforms to the family law system are necessary or desirable, in particular regarding the protection of vulnerable parties, improving dispute resolution processes, enhancing the integrity of the family law system, and family law services and professionals. The review identified structural and systemic difficulties within the current family law system, in part created by impenetrable legislation, under-resourcing, and the bifurcated legislative regimes that deal with different aspects of matters that impact on families. Rather than presenting a single bold new initiative to address these issues, the review makes 60 recommendations for reform addressing all aspects of the system. Proposals include a comprehensive redraft of the Family Law Act, the requirement that parties take genuine steps to attempt to resolve their dispute prior to filing an application, considering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's connection to culture and country when making decisions, and handing control over the family law system to the states and territories, with the aim of improving the handling of domestic violence and child protection cases.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy v. 40 no. 1 Mar 2019: 24-42
A key initiative of the 2006 Australian family law reforms is that most separating parents who have difficulty resolving disputes about parenting arrangements are now required to undertake Family Dispute Resolution (FDR). Parents who cannot reach an agreement through FDR or who meet certain exceptions may have their dispute handled by a court. This article investigates the use and outcomes of FDR, comparing the characteristics and circumstances of parents who used or who did not use FDR. It also investigates the impact of the timing of when FDR was undertaken after separation. Data is taken from three national studies of separated parents: the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families (LSSF), conducted in late 2008 and two cohorts from the Survey of Recently Separated Parents, conducted in late 2012 and late 2014. The finding indicate an increasing take-up of FDR among separated parents, and more positive outcomes and reaching agreement. However, the findings also show that more disadvantaged people are less likely to make use of FDR.
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2018
A review has commenced into the impact of the 2014 reforms to the family justice system in New Zealand. Those reforms aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes and improve the services and processes available to separating parents for resolving disputes about care. As part of the review, this paper invites feedback from families who have used the new system, regarding how it has affected their family and what is working well and what isn't. The paper explains the changes and presents questions for consideration, regarding overall experiences, out-of-court processes including Family Dispute Resolution and the Parenting Through Separation service, in-court reforms such as of changes to how children's safety is assessed and removing lawyers from the early stages of cases, and the role of professionals, such as through the Lawyer for Child, specialist reports, and counsellors.
Perth, WA : Family Court of Western Australia, 2018.
This annual report provides information on the activities and workload of the Family Court of Western Australia for the year 2017 calendar year. Topics include: judiciary and staffing, divorce applications, parenting and financial orders, self-representation, clearance rate and finalisation time, appeals, The Family Court Counselling and Consultancy Service (FCCCS), Case Assessment Conference (CAC), court services, and committees. During 2017, the Court received 5,341 divorce applications - with 60.2% filed electronically, up from 33.5% in 2016. Though parties are required to undertake a Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) process prior to commencing parenting proceedings, this occurred in only about 15% of cases, with other cases obtaining an exemption.