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  • Family Safety Branch/ Families and Legal System Division

Proposed amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 to respond to family violence

Family violence and child abuse are unacceptable and require a strong response from Australian governments. As part of this response, the Australian Government invited public comment on an exposure draft of proposed legislative amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 that would improve the family law system's response to family violence.

Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2018

The Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2018 commenced on 1 September 2018. The Act enhances the capacity of the justice system to provide effective outcomes for vulnerable Australians who are experiencing family violence. It amends the Family Law Act 1975 to improve the family law system's response to family violence, and the intersection of the federal family law and state and territory family violence and child protection systems.

The Act implements recommendations of the Family Law Council's 2015 and 2016 reports on Families with Complex Needs and the Intersection of the Family Law and Child Protection Systems, and of other expert reports.

The Act:

  • Allows state and territory courts to be prescribed to have the same jurisdiction in family law parenting matters as that held by state and territory courts of summary jurisdiction under Part VII of the Family Law Act.
  • Allows courts of summary jurisdiction to hear family law property matters where the value of the property is up to a new limit to be prescribed in regulations, without the parties' consent to jurisdiction.
  • Removes the 21 day time limit on a parenting order revived, amended or suspended by a state or territory court when making an interim family violence order.
  • Strengthens and codifies the power of the family law courts to dismiss unmeritorious cases and proceedings that are frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process.
  • Removes the requirement that a court must explain certain matters to a child when it would not be in the child's best interest to receive the explanation.
  • Removes misleading and unnecessary wording that suggests that conjugal rights and an obligation to perform marital services still exist in Australian law.

The full text of the Act and Explanatory Memorandum are available on the Parliament of Australia website.

Exposure draft and public consultation

On 9 December 2016, the Attorney-General released the exposure draft for public consultation. The exposure draft and public consultation paper can be found below:

Submissions received by the department in response to the consultation are listed below. Submissions that were provided in confidence will not be made public.

If you experience accessibility issues with the documents on this page, please contact FVTCoord@ag.gov.au for an alternate version.

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