Adelaide accredited family law specialist Jane Miller says family violence laws passed by the Senate will provide greater protection for children.
The Commonwealth Government has made a number of changes to the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2011, acting on recommendations from the Senate Standing Committee.
Ms Miller, a Partner at South Australia’s largest family law firm Tindall Gask Bentley, said the amendments effectively roll back the shared parenting regime.
“In family disputes the safety of the child is now the first priority, which is the way it should be,” Ms Miller said.
“Secondary to that is custody and the child’s relationship with both of their parents, and the child’s own interests.
“While shared parenting is important and appropriate in many family situations, ensuring the child is protected, and not exposed to violence, should always be the primary concern.”
The definition of family violence has also been broadened, and while that could leave the new laws open to abuse, Ms Miller said the benefits far outweigh the risks.
“While the broad definition is of some concern, there are still so many positives included in the Bill,” she said.
“It will also be easier for child protection authorities to be involved in Family Court actions, and for the Court to be made aware of any other family violence orders made in other Courts.”
The new laws are expected to come into play next year.