The Family Law Amendment Act of 2023 introduces substantial reforms designed to refine the processes and principles governing family law matters, specifically in property and parenting disputes.
Codification of Disclosure Obligations
The proposed changes aim to integrate the existing duty of comprehensive disclosure in property matters directly into the Family Law Act 1975. This move emphasises the duty’s significance and also imposes an obligation on legal representatives to inform their clients about this obligation, ensure compliance, and caution them about the repercussions of non-compliance. These repercussions could range from considerations during property order determinations to cost orders, further disclosure orders, or even sanctions and penalties.
Structured Property Law Principles
The proposed amendments seek to formalise enduring common-law principles into the Family Law Act, particularly regarding the Court’s approach to determining property settlements.
This encompasses the well-known “Four Step” Process, a recognised methodology involving evaluating legal and equitable interests, contributions, future needs, and establishing a just and equitable property settlement.
Additionally, these changes aim to explicitly include family violence as a factor for the Court’s consideration in assessing a party’s contributions and future needs in property matters. This acknowledgment aligns with existing case law in Kennon v Kennon  FamCA 27, recognising the impact of family violence on financial contributions and ongoing needs.
These reforms aim to streamline procedures, clarify legal principles, and better address the influence of family violence in family law proceedings. While providing clearer guidance, these amendments also acknowledge the Court’s ongoing discretion in evaluating individual cases and circumstances.
What lies ahead?
While the Bill is currently undergoing the consultation process and is subject to potential modifications before its integration into the Family Law Act, it’s crucial to keep in mind the possible changes when assessing your family law property settlement matter.
If you require guidance concerning your parenting situation, it’s advisable to seek assistance from our experienced family lawyers.
Remember, all information provided here is of a general nature and should not substitute specific legal advice. No liability is accepted for any losses incurred due to actions taken or refrained from based on the material published.