Exposure draft - Family Law Amendment Bill 2023

Submission in response to the Consultation Paper

Content type

February 2023

The Australian Government has proposed amendments to the Family Law Act to ensure the best interests of children are prioritised and placed at the centre of the family law system. It has released a draft version of the Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 to seek feedback from the community, and has also referred the Bill to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry. This submission from the Australian Institute of Family Studies responds to this draft version. Drawing on their own research, the Institute considers proposed amendments to remove the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility, requirements for making parenting orders, streamlining best interests considerations, incorporate the common law rule in Rice and Asplund (1978) relating to applications to change final parenting orders, enforcement of parenting orders, protecting parties and their children against the misuse of family law proceedings, amending how family members and relatives are defined, the requirement that Independent Children's Lawyers meet with children, protecting confidential communications made in therapeutic settings, allowing public communication of family law proceedings, and introducing a regulatory regime for family law professionals. Overall, the Institute largely supports the changes proposed in this exposure draft, as aligning with the research evidence. A separate submission has also been made to the Committee’s inquiry.