The Joint Select Committee on Australia's Family Law System was established to inquire into and report on;

  • ongoing issues and further improvements relating to the interaction and information sharing between the family law system and state and territory child protection systems, and family and domestic violence jurisdictions
  • the appropriateness of family court powers to ensure parties in family law proceedings provide truthful and complete evidence, and the ability of the court to make orders for non-compliance and the efficacy of the enforcement of such orders
  • the financial costs to families of family law proceedings, and options to reduce the financial impact
  • any further avenues to improve the performance and monitoring of professionals involved in family law proceedings and the resolution of disputes, including agencies, family law practitioners, family law experts and report writers, the staff and judicial officers of the courts, and family dispute resolution practitioners

The committee was due to present its final report by 7 October 2020. The Senate and House of Representatives granted an extension of time for presentation of the final report until the last sitting day in February 2021. In light of the committee's extension to its reporting date, the committee agreed to table an interim report. The report is designed to summarise the wide range of views and issues raised during public consultation. The committee has not yet made recommendations and reproduction of comments from submissions in this report should not be taken as the committee expressing agreement with those views.

This report is structured as follows:

  • Chapter 2 provides a brief overview of the family law system, particularly the courts, and summarises the reforms to the Family Law Act since its introduction and the outcomes of the House Committee's and ALRC's recent inquiries.
  • Chapter 3 is a snapshot of the issues raised in the many individual submissions in the inquiry.
  • Chapter 4 focuses on the recurring systemic issues in the family law system, including the perceptions of bias within the system; the role of family consultants and expert witnesses; whether the adversarial nature of the family law courts could be improved; misuse of systems and processes; and professional misconduct.
  • Chapter 5 looks at legal fees and costs.
  • Chapter 6 examines delays in the court system.
  • Chapter 7 outlines the issues in relation to family violence and the family law system.
  • Chapter 8 explores parenting matters.
  • Chapter 9 deals with matters in relation to the division of property following separation.
  • Chapter 10 looks at child support and its interaction with the family law system.
  • Chapter 11 details the support services within the family law system.
  • Chapter 12 explains alternative dispute resolution within the family law system.
Related Information

Improvements in family law proceedings: second interim report

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