Family Law changes from 6 May 2024, the Family Law Amendment Act 2023 (Cth)

Posted May 2024

The Family Law Amendment Act 2023 was passed by the Australian Parliament on 19 October 2023. These new laws will make changes to law about parenting arrangements, including:

  • introducing a simpler list of factors for courts to consider when deciding parenting arrangements,
  • removing the ‘presumption’ of equal shared responsibility.

This legislation sets out:

  • what a court must consider when determining what is in the child’s best interests, and
  • how separated parents are to make decisions about long-term issues for their children.

Section 60B of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (the Family Law Act) has been simplified and now provides that the objects of Part VII (Children) are to:

  • ensure the best interests of the children are met, including by ensuring their safety and
  • giving effect to the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

The best interests of the child is, (remains) a paramount consideration.

The best interests of the child are paramount. This is also the paramount consideration of the family law court when determining parenting orders. The Amendment Act sets out six new criteria under Section 60CC(2) and (3) that a court must consider when determining the best interests of a child.

In making decisions about (a) child/ren, parties are encouraged to act in the child’s best interests by applying the considerations/criteria in subsections 60CC(2) and (3).They include:

  • the safety of the child and people who care for the child (including any history of family violence and family violence orders),
  • the child’s views,
  • the developmental, psychological, emotional and cultural needs of the child,
  • the capacity of each person who will be responsible for the child to provide for the child’s developmental, psychological, emotional and cultural needs,
  • the benefit to the child of having a relationship with their parents, and other people who are significant to them (e.g. grandparents and siblings), and
  • anything else that is relevant to the particular circumstances of the child.

If the child is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, consideration should be given to how any parenting arrangements will help that child to experience their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

If you are asking the court to determine parenting orders, it is important that you provide the court with reasons why the orders you want are in the best interests of your child.

From “Family Law changes from May 2024: Factsheet for parents and parties”, Australian Government, Attorney General’s Department.