Watts McCray featured in the Family Law Expert Guide 2023

Watts McCray featured as Australian Family Law Experts in the Corporate LiveWire Family Law Expert Guide 2023 

Justin Dowd and Samira Friis on behalf of Watts McCray Lawyers were officially invited to contribute to the Corporate LiveWire Family Law Expert Guide 2023 publication.

The 2023 Family Law Expert Guide shares industry insights into the latest regulatory developments and notable trends from around the world. Key topics in this edition include important considerations when drafting premarital agreements, debunking the myths surrounding pre-divorce planning, and legal perspectives on determining child custody and matrimonial property.

In the Family Law Expert Guide 2023, Justin Dowd and Samira Friis discuss child custody in the context of Australian Family Law. Key areas of discussion in this feature include parenting arrangements, parental responsibility, care of the child and financial responsibility for the child.

Watts McCray featured as Australian Family Law Experts in the Corporate LiveWire Family Law Expert Guide 2023.

Family Amendment Bill changes focus

The text features commentary on The Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 – noting the current proposed changes before the Parliament. The Bill proposes to amend the parenting order framework by refining the list of “best interests” factors, by removing the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility and related equal time and substantial and significant time provision and clarifying the circumstances in which the Court can vary an existing parenting order amongst other things.

Justin and Samira note that in situations of family violence and child abuse, it should be easier to obtain sole parental responsibility orders because there will no longer be a presumption of equal shared parental responsibility. The proposed removal of the reference to “significant and substantial time” will arguably make it more difficult for parents and other carers to reach an agreement about care arrangements outside of Court. In practice, the concept and definition of substantial and significant time provides a useful standard of measurement for parties and professionals. This is likely to be a positive change for victims of family violence who may feel less pressure from the law, the Courts, their lawyers, and the system generally to agree to parenting arrangements that give significant time to the abusive parent and do not provide for the safety of the primary carer and the child.

Family violence will no longer be a primary best interest consideration but is a general consideration along with a new but shorter list of factors. Family violence is given prominence under the proposed amendments despite its removal as a primary consideration, but “safety” is now emphasised rather than “protection”. The effect of this change, if any, will need to be considered by the Courts.

We are proud to contribute to this informative industry publication and share our insights with our colleagues and networks.

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