Improvements in family law proceedings

December 2020

© Commonwealth of Australia 2020
ISBN: 978-1-76093-113-1

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List of Recommendations

Terms of Reference

Acronyms and abbreviations

Chapter 1—Introduction

  Referral and terms of reference
  Conduct of the inquiry
  About this interim report
  Summary of submissions
  Work of the committee
  Structure of the report

Chapter 2—Australia's Family Law System

  Services that couples use to resolve disputes following separation
  Overview of the family law courts
  Government support for family law services
  Establishment and reforms to the family law system
  Key legislative changes
  Recent reviews of the family law system
  Recent and current initiatives in the family law system

Chapter 3—The experience of parties to family law matters

  Impacts on people's lives
  Challenges in engaging with the legal system
  Parenting arrangements
  Child support
  Domestic violence
  Property matters

Chapter 4—Systemic issues

  Family consultants and expert witnesses
  Adversarial versus inquisitorial systems
  Misuse of system and processes
  Professional misconduct

Chapter 5—Legal fees and costs

  The costs of private legal representation
  Cost-saving measures
  Legal aid

Chapter 6—Delays in the courts

  Performance of the Family Court
  The impacts of delays
  Factors leading to delays
  Different approaches
  Recent and proposed reforms

Chapter 7—Domestic violence

  Brief overview of family violence orders
  Family violence orders and the Family Law Act
  How does the Family Court obtain evidence of family violence?
  Family violence orders in practice
  Standard of proof
  Consistency between family law and family violence orders.
  Information sharing
  Training of family law professionals

Chapter 8—Parenting matters

  Complex legislative framework
  Presumption of shared parental responsibility
  Children's views
  Parental alienation
  Enforcement of parenting orders
  Children's contact services

Chapter 9—Property matters

  Property settlement
  Financial disclosure
  Family violence
  Lack of legal assistance
  Dispute resolution
  Court reforms
  Simplification of the property provisions
  Online Dispute Resolution Systems
  Binding Financial Agreements

Chapter 10—Child support

  The Child Support Scheme: its purpose and clients
  Administration of the Child Support Scheme
  Collecting child support payments
  Recovering outstanding child support
  Interactions with the family law system
  Conflict and domestic violence

Chapter 11—Support services

  Scope and availability of support services
  Family Advocacy and Support Services
  Services funded by the Australian Government

Chapter 12—Alternative dispute resolution

  Family dispute resolution
  Other forms of dispute resolution

Australian Labor Party Additional Comments

  Interim Recommendations by Labor Members
  Previous inquiries and existing recommendations
  Issues raised in previous reports
  Presumption of equal shared parental responsibility
  Mandated pathway to equal time or substantial or significant time
  Accreditation Scheme for Family Consultants and Expert Witnesses
  Risk screening and triaging
  Disclosure of assets in financial matters
  Resourcing of courts
  Merger Bills

Appendix 1—Submissions, Additional Information, Answers to Questions on Notice and Tabled Documents

Appendix 2—Hearings

Appendix 3—List of family law inquiries and reports

Appendix 4—Recommendations from recent inquiries

  Parliamentary Inquiry into a better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence
  Family Law for the Future — An Inquiry into the Family Law System: Final Report

Appendix 5—List of child support inquiries and reports

Appendix 6—Costs of the Children Table 2020 - Services Australia

Appendix 7—List of parliamentary committee inquiries into the provisions of bills to amend the Family Law Act 1975

Appendix 8—Corrigendum

  Corrigendum to interim report tabled in October 2020

Committee Secretariat contact:

Senior Clerk's Office
Department of the Senate
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: +61 2 6277 3555
Fax: +61 2 6277 5809