Australia's Family Law System
Rainbow Families has made a submission to the Federal Parliament's Joint Select Committee on Australia's Family Law System. In preparing our response, we surveyed members of our community about their experiences and views on issues as raised in the terms of reference affecting our community:
- The financial costs to families of family law proceedings
- The impact of family law proceedings on the health safety and wellbeing of children and families
- Avenues to improve the performance and monitoring of professionals involved in family law proceedings
- It is essential that family law system professionals acquire and sustain core competencies that enable them to respond adequately to the issues experienced by a range of families, including LGBTIQA+ families. Development of core competencies in this area should be guided by way of consultation with advocacy services and organisations specialising in service provision to the LGBTIQA+ community. It is also vital for family law professionals employ a trauma informed approach so as to not exacerbate the trauma already experienced by many litigants.
- There needs to be full legal recognition for families that have been formed through surrogacy arrangements. Legal recognition of parentage ensures that children in these families will be able to access essential services including emergency medical treatment regardless of what parent they are with. It is in the best interests of children to have the stability and security afforded by legally recognising their parents.
- Expand the availability of legally assisted family dispute resolution to ensure that all families have the opportunity to reach a negotiated settlement, whether that is prior to or during court proceedings.
- Family law service providers should be trained to understand and respond to the diversity of families, including LGBTIQA+ families rather than acting from assumptions that are based on limited knowledge.
- FDRPs should be trained to work with LGBTIQA+ families and family diversity generally.
Rainbow Families NSW made two submissions to the Australian Law Reform Commission Review of the Family Law System in 2018. We note that the ALRC delivered its report in March 2019 and made a number of recommendations.
Thank you to Justine Field who compiled the report, and to all community members that shared their stories.