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Review of the family law system

family law under review

On 17 August 2017 the then Attorney General, Sen the Honourable George Brandis QC asked the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to review the family law system. The ALRC is due to report by March 2019.

On 13 March 2018, the ALRC published an issues paper setting out the terms of reference. The ALRC invited submissions and comments on the issues paper. The issues paper and terms of reference are found on the link below.

 The ALRC strongly encourages online submissions directly through the ALRC website where an online submission form allows people to respond to individual proposals to questions as attached

 Submissions can be both public and confidential. Public submissions are published on the ALRC website but with private addresses and contact details removed. Confidential submissions are not published but may be the subject of a freedom of information request.

 The terms of reference are very broad and include:

  • the appropriate, early and cost-effective resolution of all family law disputes;
  • The protection of the best interests of children and their safety;
  • Family violence and child abuse, including protection for vulnerable witnesses;
  • The best ways to inform decision-makers about the best interests of children and the views held by children in family disputes;
  • Collaboration, coordination, and integration between the family law system and other Commonwealth, State and Territory systems, including family support services in the family violence and child protection systems;
  • Whether the adversarial court system offers the best way to support the safety of families and resolve matters in the best interests of children, and the opportunities for less adversarial resolution of parenting and property disputes;
  • Rules of procedure, and rules of evidence, that would best support high-quality decision-making in family disputes;
  • Mechanisms for reviewing and appealing decisions;
  • Families with complex needs, including where there is family violence, drug or alcohol addiction or serious mental illness;
  • The underlying substantive rules and general legal principles in relation to parenting and property;
  • The skills, including but not limited to legal, required professionals in the family law system;
  • Restriction on publication of court proceedings;
  • Improving the clarity and accessibility of the law;
  • Any other matters related to these terms of reference.
  • Restriction on publication of court proceedings;
  • Improving the clarity and accessibility of the law
  • Any other matters related to these terms of reference.

This is a highly emotive area of the law and I expect that there will be a large number of submissions from a wide variety of sources including those of people working in the area and those that have been through the system. The review will work best if there are a wide variety of well thought out submissions. I plan to use the Easter break to prepare mine!


Ryan Thomas