FAMILY LAW AMENDMENT (PARENTING MANAGEMENT HEARINGS) BILL 2017
When Mum and Dad fight, children hurt. The longer the conflict, the more intense the conflict—the greater the pain suffered by the children. Research shows that it is protracted conflict that harms children, rather than family separation itself. There is also longstanding recognition of the limitations of the adversarial method for resolving family disputes; in particular, the costs, delays and inherently oppositional structure of that system, which prolongs and exacerbates conflict. It is critical that the family law system evolve to ensure that families can access the most effective mechanism to resolve their parenting disputes. We need a framework that reduces, not exacerbates, parental conflict. Our arrangements must support families to achieve safe, fair and timely outcomes and lay the foundations for healthy co-parenting. For this reason, in May this year, the Turnbull Government announced that it would commit $12.7 million to pilot a new forum for resolving family law disputes. The Family Law (Parenting Management Hearings) Bill 2017 provides for the establishment of this forum — the Parenting 2 Management Hearings Panel — a new statutory authority designed to offer self-represented litigants a more flexible and inquisitorial alternative to the court process. During the pilot phase, there will be no costs charged to families who choose to participate.
Self-represented parents represent a significant proportion of litigants who come before the family law courts, and they often face considerable challenges due to the complexity of the rules that apply, and the adversarial nature of the system. Many self-represented litigants are struggling not only with the loss and pain of family separation, but with co-existing challenges, including housing and financial stress and mental health issues. A key objective of the Panel is to give to parents who would otherwise be in a court without legal representation the option to obtain a binding decision about parenting arrangements in a quick, fair, just, informal and economical way, all the time ensuring that decisions are made in the best interests of children and that safety is prioritised.
Read more about the amendment here.