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Family Matters No. 43 - March 1996

Simplified procedures for settling the affairs of divorcing couples

New measures introduced in the Family Court
Kate Funder

Abstract

In January 1996 the Family Court of Australia announced new, simplified procedures for the negotiation of issues regarding the parenting of children and the settlement of finances. The changes are designed to suit the 95 per cent of divorcing couples who do not end up in Court before a judge, but who by and large work out any disputes in less litigious ways. To achieve the goals of self-managed resolution of disputes and problems, divorcing couples will be assisted by alternative dispute resolution services (counselling, mediation and conciliation) at various points in the process towards settlement. They will be assisted by the introduction of short, plain-language forms that most people can fill in by hand without legal assistance. The author views these changes in the context of the history of the Family Law Act and recommends that their effectiveness and possible unintended effects are evaluated.

In January 1996 the Family Court of Australia announced new, simplified procedures for the negotiation of issues regarding the parenting of children and the settlement of finances. The changes are designed to suit the 95 per cent of divorcing couples who do not end up in Court before a judge, but who by and large work out any disputes in less litigious ways. To achieve the goals of self-managed resolution of disputes and problems, divorcing couples will be assisted by alternative dispute resolution services (counselling, mediation and conciliation) at various points in the process towards settlement. They will be assisted by the introduction of short, plain-language forms that most people can fill in by hand without legal assistance. The author views these changes in the context of the history of the Family Law Act and recommends that their effectiveness and possible unintended effects are evaluated.

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