July 18, 2024

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In 1975 Australia enacted The Family Law Act. The Family Law Act was an important philosophical and legal change to the concept of divorce in Australia. For the first time we had a no fault philosophy built into our family law system. We also had a focus on family and children.

Why The Change

It was thought that the laws as they stood in the 1960s and early 1970s no longer reflected the attitudes of the community. Consultation with the community revealed that Australians no longer considered the need to find fault in a divorce necessary. Moreover the legal process required during the investigation into the breakdown of the marriage were considered unnecessarily invasive. This analysis of the breakdown was very personal and at times humiliating to both partners.

Children First

The other big change brought about by The Family Law Act 1975 was the notion of putting the interests of the children first. It contained provisions where the court was the regard the welfare of the child as the paramount consideration.

Perhaps connected to that is also the notion that the courts should work to preserve the institution of marriage. This includes reconciliation. The bill recognises the desirability of reckon say reconciliation being kept in mind at all stages until the marriage is dissolved.

The bill also protects the notion of the family. “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.”

The Family Law Act 1975 has great influence over how we dissolve relationships to the current date. The notion that we work in the best interests of the child and that there is an equal shared parental responsibility under the law are now enshrined into our legislation. The act also requires separating families who have a dispute about children to attempt family dispute resolution.

Changing Family Law

While legal processes are never perfect we are at least working towards a climate where marriages are dissolved with least disunity and an eye on the best outcome. Family lawyers are less focussed on being combative when the need for fault is removed from the process. Now we must only have the presence of disunity in a relationship for that relationship to end. We need not prove that either partner was the cause of that disunity. This has significant impact on how the families, including children, fare during the divorce process.