What is it?

On 17 September 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Government will undertake a Joint Parliamentary Committee of both the House of Representatives and the Senate to conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into the Family Law system.

The Inquiry will look at whether the current system, which is intended to support parents and children during the end of a relationship, is fit for purpose.

The Inquiry will have broad terms of reference and be chaired by Liberal MP Kevin Andrews. It has been announced that One Nation MP Pauline Hanson will be the Deputy Chair.

This will be the 3rd review of the Family Law system in the last 2 years:

  1. In 2017, Liberal MP Sarah Henderson conducted an inquiry into the Family Court
  2. In March 2019, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) made 60 recommendations to the Government to change the Family Law system. This is discussed in one of our previous articles. You can read this article here.

The Government has not responded to the ALRC recommendations and has instead announced the Family Law Inquiry.

Prior to the ALRC report, the Government announced plans in May 2018 to abolish the Family Court and merge it with the Federal Circuit Court. There is no confirmation that this will now occur until after the finalisation of the Family Law Inquiry.

Why Should You Care?

The Family Law system impacts everyone around you. If you have not had personal dealings with the Family Law system it is likely that you know someone who has.

The Family Law system is a crucial fabric to society in Australia. It is used to determine issues after the separation of people who are married or in a de facto relationship whether they have children or not.

It is likely that at some time you will need to consult with a Family Lawyer to obtain advice about a family law issue. This advice will inform you of the Family Law system at that time and how it my impact you.

At the present time a Family Lawyer such as Steven Ng and Lauren Hitchen will inform you of the delays in the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court.

The Family Law Inquiry is an opportunity for these important issues to be addressed by our Government. It is also important that positive steps are taken to address the current issues.

The major talking points of the announcement are:

  1. The appointment of Pauline Hanson as the Deputy Chair when she has made statements that alleged victims of domestic violence fabricate their stories
  2. The further delay of any investment of resources to the Family Law system or implementation of any of the ALRC recommendations
  3. The placing of the Family Law System as a crucial aspect of society that needs to be addressed.

It is important that the Inquiry disregards the negativity of the people involved in the process and focuses on addressing the current issues that impact on each and everyone of you.

If you require assistance with any Family Law issues please contact our Family Law team.

Written by Steven Ng

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