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Evaluate The Effectiveness Of The Law In Responding To The Changing Nature Of The Family.

1123 words - 4 pages

Family law is continually undergoing change. As the definition of a family so does the legislation that protects it. A family has become more nuclear and less extended in nature, grandparents are now often the responsibility of the government rather than the family. The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) defines a family as 'the natural and fundamental group unit in society, particularly while it is responsible for care and education of dependent children". The composition of a family has changed from the husband and wife and their 2.5 children to many different alternatives of families emerging from the changing nature of family law, such as-* Marriage* Aboriginal and Torres strait islander customary marriages* Polygamous marriage* Defacto relationships* Same sex relationships* Single parent families* DINKS (couples who deliberately choose not to have kids)* Blended familiesThe Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (FLA) changed the nature of the way we divorce, it introduced the concept of non-fault divorce, with only one ground available, this is an 'irretrievable breakdown' of the marriage. To prove this breakdown the couple has to be separated for 12 months before applying for the divorce. In divorce laws before the FLA women tended to be treated differently to men, with men often gaining more property, the introduction of no fault divorce in the FLA aimed to make divorce more equal. The Family Law Reform Act 1995 introduced new terminology for the terms custody and access, this was aimed to encourage divorcing parents to agree on arrangements in relation to the care and responsibility of their children rather than asking the court to do so, today only 5% of divorces end up in the family court, although this figure could be greater if divorcees didn't have the restraints of cost, time, and knowledge of the legal system.The changing nature of family has caused the definition of a marriage to change. A marriage as defined by Lord Penzance in the case of Hyde v Hyde and Woodmansee (1866) and under the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) that a marriage is 'the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others voluntarily entered into for life'. The term 'for life' now does not refer to the life of the parties in the couple but the life of the marriage, this is due to the introduction of no-fault divorce in the Family Law Act 1975. Re Kevin challenged the phrase 'the union of a man and a woman', in February 2003 when the family court declared his marriage in 1999 to Jennifer as valid. It was argued that Kevin was born female and therefore could not marry another female under the FLA's definition of marriage.The changing nature of family has lead to problems in family relationships such as domestic violence which is covered under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), more than 1 in 5 women will suffer from domestic violence. In a report from the Australian law reform commission, ' Twenty years of law reform', it was stated that assault is 'not a private matter but a matter of...

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