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Upcoming Changes to Family Law

On 19 October 2023, the federal parliament passed two significant pieces of legislation to deal with how the Courts will make parenting orders in the best interests of the child. The changes come into effect on 6 May 2024. The new laws are being enacted to ensure simplicity, safety, and improved accessibility for families undergoing separation and their children.

Family Law Amendment Act 2023

The Family Law Amendment Act 2023 prioritises children’s best interests in all parenting decisions, whether within or outside the courtroom, making the system more user-friendly. A crucial aspect of these amendments is the repeal of provisions related to the presumption of ‘equal shared parental responsibility’ under the Family Law Act 1975. A bipartisan parliamentary committee in 2017 identified these provisions as confusing, failing to prioritise children’s safety, and being improperly applied, putting children at risk. This aligns with the consensus among family law experts.

Under the new laws, parenting decisions will be exclusively based on what is deemed best for the child. The reforms also include:

  1. Mandating independent children’s lawyers to engage directly with children.
  2. Enhancing powers to shield parties and children from the adverse effects of prolonged and adversarial litigation.
  3. Introducing a definition of ‘member of the family’ that incorporates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander concepts of family and kinship.
  4. Streamlining compliance and enforcement provisions for child-related orders.
  5. Empowering the Government to regulate family report writers.
  6. Ensuring that children’s voices are more readily heard in cases under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Family Law Amendment (Information Sharing) Act 2023

The Family Law Amendment (Information Sharing) Act 2023 focuses on providing courts with a comprehensive understanding of family safety risks to prioritise the well-being of children and families, particularly in situations involving child abuse, neglect, or family violence.

Key provisions of this Act include:

  1. Establishing two new information-sharing orders enabling courts to promptly seek information from police, child protection, and firearms agencies concerning family violence, child abuse, and neglect that may endanger children.
  2. Allowing courts to issue these orders at any stage of proceedings to ensure the accuracy and currency of information.
  3. Ensuring sensitive information is disclosed safely and appropriately.


Informed by the Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2019 report and reflecting the Government’s Response to the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System, this legislation aims to expedite family law matters, prioritizing safety without compromising the well-being of family members.

With just under a week to go until these changes go live, we’ll have greater analysis on the impact these changes will have. In the meantime, if you would like more information, don’t hesitate to contact our family law team today.