find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
A family affair in Cabinet condemned

A family affair in Cabinet condemned

PROPOSED CHANGES to family law arrangements, including a new families tribunal, are aimed at making the system more user-friendly. But the Law Council of Australia argues they will be a waste of…

PROPOSED CHANGES to family law arrangements, including a new families tribunal, are aimed at making the system more user-friendly. But the Law Council of Australia argues they will be a waste of resources and will not improve the situation for the thousands of families with children that separate each year.

A radical overhaul of the family law system, which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, followed a parliamentary inquiry that recommended a families tribunal be set up to operate outside the Family Court system and deal with access to children. The proposed system was intended to alter the way children’s issues were handled, and to make the system less legalistic.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has reportedly urged the Government to adopt the proposed tribunal.

A revamp of the controversial child support system was also pushed before Cabinet by the Minister for Children, Larry Anthony. In practice, the proposal would revise the formula for striking child support payments. While currently a percentage of the income of the parent who is paying for the child is taken, a new formula would be developed for determining the cost of raising children.

The first phase of the new system would see an information service offered at Medicare offices. People would be referred to mediation and those whose issues could not be settled would then be sent to the tribunal.

But this one-stop shop idea has been condemned by the Law Council, which argued the Government was focusing on the wrong end of the system, and that family lawyers were instrumental in helping separating families reach a resolution.

“Lawyers give objective advice, they help create proper expectations and they help keep most people out of the court. This is what they’re paid to do,” said Law Council president Bob Gotterson.

Around 25,000 Australian families with children separate each year but 98 per cent of those don’t have a court hearing, according to Law Council figures. Instead they reach agreement, mostly with the help of family lawyers, through negotiation, mediation and conciliation.

“As well as facilitating settlement, family lawyers help to equal the power imbalance that often exists between spouses, so that a weaker party is not disadvantaged,” Gotterson said.

A “third court”, as the Law Council has labelled the tribunal, may leave families with litigation in three different tribunals. A family might have their property dispute before the Family Court, for example, and also a child support dispute before the Federal Magistrates Court, as well as parenting matters before the Families Tribunal — a prospect “fraught with danger”, said Gotterson.

“This proposed tribunal is untested anywhere in the world. If we are to have a tribunal that deprives people of their fundamental legal rights, it should be piloted before being introduced,” he said.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

A family affair in Cabinet condemned
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
Dec 15 2017
Timing ‘critical’ in unusual contempt of court ruling
A recent case could have interesting implications for contempt of court rulings, according to a Ferr...
Dec 14 2017
International arbitration and business culture
Promoted by Maxwell Chambers. This article discusses the impact of international arbitration on t...
Papua New Guinea flag
Dec 14 2017
World-first mining case launched in PNG
Citizens of Papua New Guinea have launched landmark legal proceedings against the country’s govern...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...