The dynamic legal landscape in Australia advances according to the times and is bringing substantial changes to the Family Law in 2024.


Here we are going to discuss the changes to the Part VII of The Family Law Act that are to come into effect in May 2024. The major changes are:


Simplifying how the court decides what care arrangements are in the child’s best interests.

This stipulation in the Family Law is related to the care arrangements for the child and focuses on the child’s best interests. While the current regime stipulates around 15 factors for the court to consider, the new regime has only six. Let us take a look at them in detail:


  1. Will the care arrangements ensure the safety of the child, that is, will the child be protected from being subjected to or exposed to family violence, abuse, neglect, or any other kind of harm?
  2. What does the child feel, or what are their views about the care arrangements?
  3. Are the emotional, developmental, psychological, and cultural needs of the child being met?
  4. Is every person who holds parental responsibility for the child capable of providing for the developmental, psychological, emotional, and cultural needs of the child?
  5. Does the child have the benefit of a relationship with their parents and other important relatives like grandparents, and is it safe for the child?
  6. Any other factor that may be significantly relevant to the child’s situation.


Furthermore, the court also has to consider additional factors like any history of domestic violence involving the person caring for the child (irrespective of whether the person had parental responsibility or not) or any family violence order against any family member of the child. The court also has to consider the child’s ethnic background, like if the child is from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community, then the court needs to check if the child is given the necessary support, opportunity, and encouragement to:


  1. Connect with the members of their community, culture, and language.
  2. Experience the extent of culture that is consistent with their age, level of maturity, and opinions.
  3. Appreciate the aspects of the culture.


These factors can also be considered by the court in the case of a consent order application.


Removing the presumption that parents have equal shared parental responsibility.

The current regime states that parents should have equal shared parental responsibility, but there is also an assumption that equal shared parental responsibility amounts to equal time with children or equal shared care. Under the new regime, the presumption of equal shared care does not apply. Parents are advised to consult one another before making decisions related to the child’s welfare, development, and best interests. As per the new regime, certain decisions, for example, health-related issues, may be made by one parent individually, while in other matters, like education, the parents need to consult one another and come to a mutually agreeable decision. Also, for smaller issues like what the child eats or wears, the parent with whom the child lives can decide individually.


Making it clear that final parenting orders can only be changed if there has been a significant change in circumstances.

As per the new update, any new application to change the final parenting order will be considered only if there has been a considerable change in the circumstances of the child or the parents. This is again ruled in the best interest of the child, so as to avoid frequent exposure of the child to court proceedings.


Clarifying what kinds of communication are allowed during family law proceedings.

The new change clearly states that no information related to the court proceedings or the involved parties may be published on social media. Likewise, no information that could link the parties to the court proceedings may be shared on social media. Private conversations between the party involved and a friend or member of the family are, however, allowed.


Clarifying the role of Independent Children’s Lawyers.

While the old regime stipulates that the Independent Children’s Lawyers can choose to meet the child, the new regime clarifies that it is mandatory for the Independent Children’s Lawyers to meet with the child and give them an opportunity to express their views. In case the child does not want to meet the Independent Children’s Lawyer or if the child is under the age of five, this rule does not apply.


Why Choose a Family Lawyer?

While we have tried to explain the upcoming changes in the framework of parenting orders in simplified terms, there still may be some areas that are too complicated for you to deal with by yourself. A family lawyer can help you navigate the byzantine legal procedures, get your paperwork in order, and communicate effectively with the other party. Effective counselling from an experienced family lawyer can help you decide on your next step.


Maatouks Law Group – Your Perfect Legal Partner in NSW

At Maatouks, we offer a wide range of legal services, and Family Law is one of the important realms that we specialise in. We focus on customer satisfaction and treat every client of ours with courtesy and respect.


For more information, call us today!