Divorce in Australia - Legal Studies

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Divorce in Australia
Family Law Unit
Mark A
Legal Studies

With the very nature and fluidity of Family Law, many attempts at definitive meanings are met with a high degree of confusion even by the most learned minds. Family law is an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations. This can includes the establishment of family and domestic relationships, the rules for creating a union, right up to their termination or dissolution, and the subsequent issues related to this, such as alimony, child support, property division, custody etc. When the bliss of a marriage turns cold, there are many couples out there, or even individuals who believe that their marriage is beyond help therefore result in divorce. The 'no fault' provisions of the Family Law Act has enabled many people to divorce sooner than they would have done under the previous law, and led to a massing of divorces into one year, 1976. In 2010, it was verified that 121,176 marriages were recorded in Australia; however, there were 50,240 divorces granted that same year. (Author Unknown, Information Brief Marriages And Divorces Queensland: 2010, 2011) Due to the introduction of the No Fault divorce, rates have increased dramatically; therefore an implementation of compulsory counselling must be applied in order to prevent the rising number of marriage breakdowns.

The 'No Fault' divorce principle is recognised under the Family Law Act 1975. The Australian Government ComLaw service explain the Act as, 'An Act relating to Marriage and to Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, Parental Responsibility for Children, and to financial matters arising out of the breakdown'. (Author Unknown, Family Law Act 1975, 2011) Prior to the 1975 Family Law Act, grounds for divorce included adultery, habitual drunkenness or insanity, therefore there had to be proof and evidence of the fault of one or both parties in causing the breakdown of marital relations. The new provision meant that a court did not consider which partner was at fault in the marriage breakdown. The only ground for divorce was the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship, demonstrated by 12 months of separation. For this reason, marriage breakdowns increase dramatically and affect many people, such as children, families and the general public.

In a case of divorce there are many stakeholders who can be affected by the breakdown of a marriage. Your spouse is a "stakeholder" in your marriage, because it is his or her marriage also. But there are other stakeholders in your marriage as well; people who have serious investments of their own in your marriage. Children under the age of 18 depend on their parents in every significant way, but besides the minor children, there are other stakeholders: adult children, parents and siblings, in-laws, and shared friends are the most typical. Divorce, as a legal issue includes an array of stakeholders, including the general public, judges, and politicians.

One major stakeholder in this case is Tony Abbott. On July 10, 2009, Tony Abbott, the Opposition families and Aboriginal affairs spokesperson called for a return to the fault-based system of divorce that was discarded in 1975, to be replaced by a 'no-fault' system. Mr Abbott's plan would see additional grounds for divorce reintroduced, including adultery, cruelty, habitual drunkenness and imprisonment. This proposal has been confronted with mixed responses. (Author Unknown, Should Australia retain 'no fault'-based divorce?, 2009) Some have welcomed what they see as an attempt to address some of the shortcomings of the Family Law Act. Others have been highly critical of what they see as a return to an adversarial and unsatisfactory system. Although Abbott had introduced this plan in high faith that it would reduce divorce numbers, many have disagreed with this reintroduction, claiming that the current law has met society’s expectations.

Couples willing to take another...
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