Hsc Legal Studies Family Essay

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“Society moves ahead and the law limps behind”
Discuss this referring to contemporary issues in family

Society’s opinions are constantly, and rapidly changing, and consequently this poses significant challenges to the family law system in Australia. A family is a social unit containing individuals related by blood, marriage or other legally recognised relationships. Family law reforms have been implemented over the past three decades, entailing the recognition of same sex couples. Furthermore, a statutory presumption of shared parenting – as instigated by society’s transitioning values – displays the changing nature of parental responsibility. Not only are society’s views progressing, but surrogacy and birth technologies are accelerating. The standard for care and protection of children is recurrently transforming. It is for these reasons that the law, “limps behind” those dynamic views of society.

Due to the long-awaited family law reforms signifying the recognition of same sex relationships, one may say, “society moves ahead and the law limps behind.” It was in the 1969 that the ACT Homosexual Law Reform Society was formed, indicating society’s demand for equality. Such demands were first recognised by the Property (Relationships) Legislation Amendment Act 1999 (NSW), which enabled access to the District Court for property divisions and financial maintenance orders, and granted inheritance rights to same-sex de-factos. Finally, after 2 decades of Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras marches, The Commonwealth government passed the Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Act 2008. The legislation expanded the definition of de-facto relationships to include, “2 persons of the same sex.” This, amongst other amendments, ensured that same-sex couples are afforded the same rights and obligations as heterosexual couples, under around 50 Commonwealth statutes.

By nature of making a sweeping legislative reform, same-sex de-facto’s now have...
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