Monday to Friday:- 8:45am – 5:15pm (Melbourne Office)

Family Law Amendment Bill Aims to Prioritise Domestic Violence Victims

3 min read

06 Oct 2023

In a significant development for Family Law in Australia, draft legislation was introduced to the Federal Parliament earlier this month which addresses the financial concerns of domestic violence victims within Family Law property disputes.

This move acknowledges the vulnerability of individuals escaping abusive relationships and seeks to provide them with greater financial protection and security in the post-separation period.

Under the proposed legislation, Courts will be compelled to consider the impact of domestic violence when making decisions in property settlements.

The Need for Financial Recognition

Post separation in instances of family violence, victims can be forced into poverty and continue to experience financial abuse and control after escaping violent situations. These legal changes aim to address these issues and provide better protection for victims.

The proposed law states that, when dividing property after a breakup, it is important to consider the financial impact of domestic violence and make adjustments in favour of the victim. This law recognises that family violence can have real financial consequences and is increasing important in decisions about who gets what property in a breakup. This change will help people, whether they’re going through the court system or settling things privately, better understand how domestic violence should be taken into account when dividing property after a separation. The changes will also encourage the parties to act civilly when negotiating with their spouses.

The draft legislation also includes a specific duty of disclosure in property and financial matters pertaining to domestic violence. This duty to disclose applies during court proceedings and when parties are preparing to initiate legal action.

Changes to the Presumption of Equal Shared Parental Responsibility

The proposed changes to the law eliminate the current legal presumption of shared parenting responsibility. Currently, this presumption means that, in the absence of contrary evidence, both parents are presumed to have equal decision-making power in major, long-term decisions for their children, even in cases involving domestic violence.

Under the proposed changes, the primary focus will shift to the best interests of the child, ensuring that their safety and well-being are prioritised by the Court and all parties involved.

The changes will:

  1. Enhance the rights of children involved in property and parenting disputes
  2. Help prevent domestic violence perpetrators from repeatedly taking their victims to court and abusing court systems
  3. Make Independent Children’s Lawyers more readily available to parties in a broader range of circumstances to ensure the children’s views are considered
  4. Expand on the definition of family for First Nations children to ensure greater inclusivity and accessibility for First Nations communities.

This draft legislation represents a step forward in prioritising the welfare and financial security of domestic violence victims within the Australian Family Law system. As these reforms progress through Federal Parliament, they have the potential to bring about positive change in the way family disputes are resolved, with an aim to create a safer and more equitable landscape for victims of domestic violence finalising property matters.

If you believe any of the proposed changes to Family Law apply to you, it is important you obtain comprehensive legal advice from a solicitor experienced in Family Law matters. We invite you to contact our Family Law team to discuss your unique situation.

More information about the proposed Family Law Amendment Bill, is contained within the Exposure Draft available on the Attorney General’s website.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of domestic violence, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT for 24/7 assistance and support.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared for general information purposes and may not apply to your situation. This information should not be relied upon for legal, tax or accounting advice. Your individual circumstances will alter any legal advice given. The views expressed may not reflect the opinions, views or values of PCL Lawyers and belong solely to the author of the content. © PCL Lawyers Pty Ltd.

If you require legal advice specific to your situation please speak to one of our team members today.

About The Author - Jessica Saunders

Jessica is an Associate in PCL Lawyers’ Family Law team. She holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (GDLP) and a Masters of Applied Law specialising in Family Law (M...

Providing clients with the best possible service and advice.

Looking for a Lawyer or Law Firm in Melbourne?

You want to know that you are getting advice and real solutions. You not only want a lawyer who has strong experience and knowledge in legal matters, but a lawyer who can also navigate you through the commercial realities.

Request a meeting
Providing legal services Australia-wide,
with several locations to serve you better.
Select State:
Contact us
Get in contact with us
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.