Legal Studies - the Family Law Amendment (Shared Responsibility) Act 2006

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The Family Law Amendment (Shared Responsibility) Act 2006 commenced on the first of July 2006 assists in the way that separating parents resolve their disputes involving the best interests of their children. This law is still taking time to make an effect on divorcing and separating parents, as sources show that shared custody arrangements or 50:50 joint custody makes little effect on the children involved in these situations. This was achieved through a major study conducted by Bruce Smyth and Bryan Rodgers who showed that children in shared care are no worse off or no better than those who see the other parent every second weekend for example [Source E]. The aim of the legislation was to change the past 1995 reforms as they failed to achieve the desired impact of separating couples [source A]. The act was created also to encourage parents to share the parenting of their children by allowing them to have equal time with both mother and father and also for the major decisions and responsibilities of the children to be distributed evenly.

The law was changed because of the various groups who protested against the past regulations the law provided. The changes included the terminology, facilitation of shared parenting time and the concept that the separated parents both retain parental responsibility [Source A]. The new family law process outlined in the Every Picture Tells a Story report also creates an emphasis on parents coming to agreements in a ‘parenting plan’. There was also a proposal to create a ‘Family Tribunal’, which was where the separating parents could work their issues with consultation and counseling without the invasive use of the courts. The government also put forward $400 million to be spent on 65 family relationship centres for counseling couples [Source B]. Groups who have been against the Family Law Amendment are law academics, judges, women’s legal services, and single mother groups, [source D] because of the issue of abuse from their...
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