The Family Law Act 1975 (or the Family Law Act) sets out to define:
- what happens when couples divorce.
- the resulting separation of property.
- the parental responsibilities for the children of the relationship.
The Family Law Act can have long term implications for families and children.
The Family Law Act – Key areas
The Family Law Act sets out that both parents have responsibilities towards their children. If both parents were fit (in terms of their behaviour, rather than physical fitness) during the relationship, without any history of abuse or neglect, both parents have the right to voice an opinion on the child’s education, welfare and health.
Time with children
While both parents are understood to have equal responsibilities, this does not always mean equal time. The Family Law Act sets out the factors that are considered when a court is to decide time with children. Couples apply to the court when they can’t come to an agreement between themselves.
After assessing the individual situation, the court will determine the amount of time that’s in the best interest of the child. While the court prefers that agreements are reached outside of the court, in the case that an agreement cannot be reached, the court is able to intervene.
Both parents of the child, whether they are adoptive parents or biological parents, have financial responsibilities towards the children of the relationship.
Binding financial agreement
The Family Law Act allows for couples who are in a relationship (both de facto and married) to make a binding financial agreement that sets out how to divide the couple’s assets in the case of separation. You can make binding financial agreement in the beginning, middle or end of your relationship. The agreement can set out how the breadwinner will continue to support the spouse who is not earning as much.
See these Family Law document kits and the Blog post “Property Settlement After Separation – Agree Now, Don’t Pay Later” for even more helpful information.
Family Court of Australia
One important creation of the Family Law Act is the Family Court of Australia. The Family Court is responsible for resolving disputes related to family matters. It has jurisdiction over divorce, parental rights and responsibilities, child support, binding financial agreements and domestic violence cases.
The Family Law Act can be complicated. Its best to get legal advice from a family lawyer on your specific circumstances.