Understanding the New Family Law Amendments: What You Need to Know

Family law is constantly evolving to better serve families in our community. Recent amendments to the Family Law Act, effective from 6 May 2024, have introduced significant changes aimed at improving the legal processes and outcomes for those navigating family disputes. Here’s an overview of what you need to know about the 2024 family law amendments.

Simplifying the Legal Process

One of the primary goals of the new amendments is to simplify the legal process for families. The reforms focus on making court proceedings more efficient and less stressful, ensuring that families can resolve their disputes more quickly and smoothly. This includes updated guidelines on how the courts should determine the best interests of the child and how parents are expected to make decisions about major long-term issues.

Enhanced Focus on Child Safety and Wellbeing

The safety and wellbeing of children have always been paramount in family law, and the new amendments reinforce this priority. There is no longer two primary considerations, (the child’s benefit of the child having a meaningful relationship weighed up against the risk of being subjected to or exposed to harm) and a number of additional considerations, to assist the Court in determining what is in the children’s best interest.

Key Factors for Determining Child’s Best Interests

The 2024 amendments outline six key factors that courts will consider when determining what parenting arrangements are in the best interests of a child:

  1. Safety of the child and caregivers: Including any history of family violence.
  2. The child’s views: Taking into account the child’s own preferences and feelings.
  3. Developmental, psychological, emotional, and cultural needs: Ensuring the child’s holistic needs are met.
  4. Capacity of each parent to meet these needs: Evaluating each parent’s ability to support the child’s development.
  5. Benefit of maintaining relationships: Considering the importance of the child having relationships with parents, siblings, and other significant people.
  6. Other relevant circumstances: Any other factors specific to the child’s situation.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, the court will also consider how the parenting arrangements support their cultural identity and heritage.

Understanding Time with Children

Decisions about the amount of time a child spends with each parent will continue to be based on the child’s best interests. The law clarifies that while some parents believe they are entitled to equal time with their child, the primary consideration is always what arrangement best serves the child’s needs.

Joint Decision-Making on Major Long-Term Issues

The amendments place a strong emphasis on cooperative parenting, especially when it comes to major long-term decisions about the child’s health, education, and religious upbringing. Courts may order parents to consult each other and make genuine efforts to reach joint decisions. Even without a court order, parents are encouraged to work together on these issues, provided it is safe to do so.

Modifying Parenting Orders

To change existing parenting orders under the new amendments, the court must be convinced that:

  • There has been a significant change in circumstances.
  • Revisiting the orders is in the best interests of the child.

If these conditions are not met, existing parenting orders will remain in place unless both parties agree to the changes.

How Freedom Family Law Can Help

Navigating through family law can be challenging, especially with the recent changes. Our team of experienced family lawyers at Freedom Family Law ARE here to guide you through every step of the process. We stay updated with the latest legal developments to provide you with the best possible advice and representation.

If you have any questions or need assistance with your family law matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us and book in for a free initial appointment. It doesn’t cost to know where you stand.


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