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Family Law Act 1975 Essay

2264 words - 10 pages

Lyndon B. Johnson, a past president of the United States of America, once said, "The family is the corner stone of our society. More than any other force, it shapes the attitude, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child. And, when the family collapses it is the children that are usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled. So, unless we work to strengthen the family, to create conditions under which most parents will stay together, all the rest -- schools, playgrounds, and public assistance, and private concern -- will never be enough."The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) is the principal law in Australia on matters concerning divorce, property ...view middle of the document...

It replaced the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959 (Cth) and superseded State and Territory laws concerning guardianship, custody, access, and maintenance of children of a marriage (Family Court of Australia, 2004).The Family Court of Australia was created by the Family Law Act 1975 to interpret and apply that law to individual cases. This initiative was aimed not only at improving the manner in which separation and marriage dissolution were managed but also aimed at providing specialised facilities and services concerned with the welfare of children of separating couples (Nanlohy, 2002). The Act envisaged that the new court would have judges who were particularly qualified to handle family law matters, counselling and conciliation services, child minding facilities, and circuit services allowing people in rural areas access to the court (Family Court of Australia, 2004). The Family Court also has jurisdiction in some matters under other legislation such as the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) and the Child Support legislation (Australian Government, 2004). The jurisdiction and the administration of the Court has changed over time as a result of changes to the Family Law Act 1975, in response to recommendations of reviews both internal and external, and the creation of the Federal Magistrates Court. The Court continues to evaluate and improve procedures and processes to support equality of access to justice (Family Court of Australia, 2004).There have been a number of legislative and judicial changes to Family Law since the introduction of the Family Law Act 1975. In 1987, the Federal and State Parliaments passed legislation, the Jurisdiction of Courts (Cross-vesting) Acts, which allowed certain courts in the State and Federal systems to "cross-vest" the civil jurisdiction of a court in the same system or one in the other system (Laing, 2003). In practical terms, this allowed the one court, under certain circumstances, to hear and determine matters that would otherwise have had to be heard in two different courts. The benefit of this scheme was that it saved time and cost (Nanlohy, 2002). In 1999, following a challenge to its constitutional validity, parts of the scheme were no longer able to operate. This now means that matters that come within the jurisdiction of the States such as the property arrangements of the children's parents cannot be heard at the same time as residence or contact in relation to their children (Robinson, 1996). If both children's and property matters arise from the breakdown of a de facto relationship, they must currently be heard in different courts (Law4u, 2002).The Family Law Reform Act 1995 (Cth) which came into force on 11 June 1996 amended significant sections relating to children. All the significant changes to the children's provisions can be found in Part VII of the Family Law Act 1975 (University of Sydney, 1999). The Act introduced clear objects and principles, subject to the paramount consideration "the best interests of...

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