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Changes to Family Law from 7 June 2012

The Australian Government strongly supports happy, healthy relationships between children and their parents and supports shared care where this is safe for the child.

Unfortunately, more than half of the parenting cases that come to courts involve allegations by one or both parties that the other has been violent. Family violence and child abuse cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. This is why the Australian Government has amended the Family Law Act to:

  • Prioritise the safety of children in parenting matters by giving greater weight to the protection from harm when determining what is in a child’s best interests.
  • Change the definition of ‘family violence’ and ‘abuse’ to reflect a contemporary understanding of what family violence and abuse is by clearly setting out what behaviour is unacceptable, including physical and emotional abuse and the exposure of children to family violence.
  • Better target what a court can consider in relation to family violence orders as part of considering a child’s best interests.
  • Strengthen advisers obligations by requiring family consultants, family counsellors, family dispute resolution practitioners and legal practitioners to prioritise the safety of children.
  • Ensure the courts have better access to evidence of family violence and abuse by improving reporting requirements.
  • Make it easier for state and territory child protection authorities to participate in family law proceedings.

These changes will help people within the family law system to better understand, disclose and act where there are family violence and child abuse concerns. Family courts will be able to access better information on which to assess risk to families and the best interests of children, helping to improve the appropriateness of parenting orders.

The Family Law Act will continue to promote a child’s right to a meaningful relationship with both parents where this is safe for the child. Changes to Family Law from 7 June 2012

For further information about the changes to Family Law, contact: Attorney-General’s Department Website

What the Family Violence Act does not do
The Family Violence Act does not ‘roll back’ the 2006 shared parenting reforms. Parenting arrangements will continue to be made in a way that promotes a child’s right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents where this is safe.
The Family Violence Act will not impact outcomes for separating families where there are no family violence or child abuse concerns. For those cases where there is no risk of violence or abuse and it is in the child’s best interests, the courts will continue to apply the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility and consider equal time or, as the case requires, substantial and significant time.
The family courts will not lose the ability to award costs where a party knowingly makes false statements.  The family courts will retain a broad power to make costs orders. In addition, it remains a criminal offence to knowingly make a false statement during court proceedings.


  1. SOD says:

    Very interesting info! Perfect just what I was looking for!

  2. Neb-Maat-Re says:

    One can only wonder when deliberate parental alienation will become recognised as child abuse.

  3. Shayne Collins says:

    I must agree Neb Mat Ree. It has been seventy days since my son was born and I cannot find him. The mother has absconded with my child. The mother will not communicate with me or let me see my child. I am sure this is child abuse not allowing a father to see his child. The psychological effects of a child or father not being allowed to bond with each other is tantamount to cruelty or negligence regarding my child’s welfare and care. I have done no wrong. I have tried evrything to be there for my child yet the government punishes me and rewards the mother. Why cant I see my child ? Who is preventing me from being a responsible father? I am not violent or reckless but the mother is and she gets protected for it. Ha !!! Go figure FATHERS should have equal rights, where are my equal legal rights concerning the safety of our child?

    • Peter says:

      Hello Shayne,

      What a terrible situation and I am sure all the dads that read your plea will be sending there best wishes! From your comments you would think the new family Law Act will support your case i.e. “The Family Violence Act will not impact outcomes for separating families where there are no family violence or child abuse concerns. For those cases where there is no risk of violence or abuse and it is in the child’s best interests, the courts will continue to apply the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility and consider equal time or, as the case requires, substantial and significant time”. I would hope that the courts will put there act into place and do as they say – provide you with equal and shared custody if there is no violence concerns. Seems like you are taking all the right avenues, your persistence will pay off. Best wishes and keep us up to date with your progress.

  4. Shayne Collins says:

    Thanks Peter, I hope also that they stick to the letter of their family law. I have only skimmed the surface of this unique problem with you. It is a more complicated issue than I have written above. Although I have been fighting this since before my childs birth my persistance is ‘now’ only just revving up. I will never give up on my child. The government has been negligent in this case and I will prove it once DNA has been proven ( Seventy days and I still have no DNA test, This test should have been performed as soon as the child was born). I am still the legal father (69Q Family Law Act) regardless, until proven otherwise. I am alone it seems in this situation, but I am well prepared with the sound knowledge of all the acts that apply. It disgusts me that I have had to put my time and effort into studying the acts and proving I am the father when legally I am supposed to be recognised, by law, as the father. My poor son and I are missing out on so much and that is where my energy and time should be going. I am frantic wanting to know that my child is safe and well especially after being in the Bundaberg floods, of which, is where I believe my son is living ? I will keep you up to date with this situation as I do not believe any person should have to go through this especially a father who is trying to be ‘responsible’ for his child. I am happy this site is available as I may find my next move could see me on a bridge protesting. I sincerely hope I do not have to put my life at risk just to see my child.

    • Roger BLACKWELL says:

      Other men are here to listen if you’d like to chat or grab a beer. I’m on the Sunshine Coast.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Same problem for me as well. I live in Perth and my wife absconded with our 4 children aged between 11 and 5 years old, whilst I was at work. Police located them but would not tell me any more then they are safe. It’s 2 weeks already and my ex-wife will not answer the phone or SMS messages. I have managed to put injunction on travelling overseas and court hearing is due on 19th October 2015. My ex-wife sent me 1 msg to send the court papers to her auntie’s house which I have done by Registered mail. Can someone suggest me anything?

  6. Tom Shayler says:

    The laws about family violence Orders would be a good idea if false accusations were not made against you. I live in Melbourne, I seperated 15 months ago, 3 months prior to the birth of my child. 2 months after our break up my ex was in court requesting an Intervention Order. We did have a number of verbal arguments, text battles at the time our relationship broke down as my ex claimed I would not be able to see the child and denied the baby was my child in court. On advice of legal aid I agreed without admissions , as I was told it would not impact on my capacity to see my child. There was no reports/charges/intervention orders during our relationship. Since that time I have been following all the lawyers instructions to gain access to my child. however the only offers I have had are for me to have contact in my ex’s parents home without a support person with me. My lawyers have strongly advised I do not do this as the potential for alledging I have breached the order is high. Lawyers sent many letters of offer including bringing support people, contact outside the home and in contact centres or with professional supervisors )paid by myself)however all offers were refused.
    Now the matter has been ordered to mediation, however only after my initiating application was served on my ex , she has come up with a single bogus facebook post I allegedly sent, from seven months earlier, from a facebook page I had closed down several months prior to her raising this allegation, calling her a “bitch” and has now requested an extension to the intervention order as she claims I have breached the order. Her only other grounds for an extension is that she fears I will become aggressive since family court orders are on foot. She has absolutely no grounds to base this on and lawyers are simply telling me to again agree without admissions. She somehow has legal aid supporting her on these baseless orders while because I work I have to pay legal fees if I want to contest this. My child will be a year old in a fortnight and I have been working through lawyers without success to this point for contact. My ex is saying in court affidavits I have refused offers of contact and is now stating I was verbally and physically abusive during our relationship, which simply isn’t true, except for some reciprocal verbal outbursts around the time we seperated. In mediation so far all she has offered is 2 hours a fortnight in her parents home , however has made the consillation of allowing me to bring someone she can vet along with me (the past offers support she will not accept anyone I suggest and and she will not offer anyone that is independant ) I just want to give my child the opportunity of getting to know me!
    My questions are:
    1. Should I contest the Intervention Order
    2. Is there any lawyers in Melbourne that truely advocate (within the law) for men/Dads
    3. I just want to have contact with my child – should I accept this offer for 2 hours a fortnight or fight on and take the matter to a contested hearing at court – which is likely to take 3-6 months
    Any suggestions would be great

    • Peter says:

      Hi Tom,

      Sorry to hear of your trouble. I have contacted a Family Law friend of Dads Online and made him aware of your story. He may contact you or post a reply here. You certainly don’t want to aggravate the situation and give them something that could work against you. There is an article here: that does provide some good tips in preparing yourself for divorce and custody. Not knowing your situation, it will be very important when looking for more access that you have a place and have the time to care and nurture your child. This is not advise from a lawyer but from a judge, you can read more in this article. It sounds like (from reading your story) the journey may be long. I can say that patience will be your best friend. Let it unfold and get good advice (not from friends or family) and if you are dedicated for the long term, things will work out. I look forward to hearing how you went and our best wishes are with you.