As of 6 May 2024, there have been amendments to the Family Law Act. The amendments have been designed to simplify and make the family law system safer for separating families. Within this article, Special Counsel, Annabel Murray explains the recent amendments to the legislation and the updated parental responsibilities to protect children’s best interests.

Family Law Amendments

On May 6, 2024, significant amendments to the laws concerning parenting orders were implemented. These changes aim to create a safer and simpler family law system for families going through a separation, prioritising the best interests of the children in any care-related decisions. For families who are unable to reach their own agreement on appropriate and safe care arrangements and require the court to make orders for their children’s care, the legislative reform streamlines the process.

It clarifies what constitutes a child’s best interests and what the court must consider when making orders for arrangements that are safest for both the children and their careers. Previously, the Family Act acknowledged children’s rights under the Convention on the Rights of a Child, but the recent amendments underline the importance of allowing children to have a voice in proceedings that affect them therefore, ensuring their perspectives are considered. Additionally, the amendments also push forward the consideration of the cultural needs of First Nations children’s cultural rights and their kinship.

The Family Law Act maintains that parents have parental responsibilities for their children however if the court is to make an order for parents to have equal shared parental responsibility it no longer must consider if equal time or substantial time should occur.

The removal of any consideration of “time” from a differing concept of parents being “responsible” for their children addresses the misunderstanding of many parents that equal shared parental responsibility meant they had a right to equal time with the children, which it did not.

Family Law Amendments for Decision Making for Children

The changes to the Family Law Act also separate out a separate consideration of decision making for children. This is where as lawyers we often find parents in a dispute about decisions concerning schools or decisions concerning health and often to the detriment of the children who are uncertain as to what school they will attend and the disruption on their education and well being.

Orders can be made for one parent to make those decisions and if they need to consult the other parent or not in making those decisions.

The factors to be considered, at a minimum are streamlined in s60CC(2) of the Family Law Act which the court must consider as follows:

a) what arrangements would promote the safety (including safety from being subjected to, or exposed to, family
b) violence, abuse, neglect, or other harm) of:

  • the child; and
  • each person who has care of the child (whether or not a person has parental responsibility for the child);

c) any views expressed by the child;
d) the developmental, psychological, emotional, and cultural needs of the child;
e) the capacity of each person who has or is proposed to have parental responsibility for the child to provide for the child’s developmental, psychological, emotional, and cultural needs;
f) the benefit to the child of being able to have a relationship with the child’s parents, and other people who are significant to the child, where it is safe to do so;
g) anything else that is relevant to the particular circumstances of the child.


At s60CC(2A) the court must include consideration of:

a) any history of family violence, abuse or neglect involving the child or a person caring for the child (whether or not the person had parental responsibility for the child); and
b) any family violence order that applies or has applied to the child or a member of the child’s family.

Enhanced Information Sharing

The introduction of greater information sharing between the police the courts and the Department of Community Justice means greater preliminary information about reporting and notifications of neglect, risk, abuse, and criminal history to be made to the legal practitioners and the court.

This information sharing also promotes safety, particularly in proceedings where urgent orders are required to be made and where the issuing of a subpoena to produce is not timely due to the urgency of matters before the court.

How Ramsden Family Law Can Assist You with the New Changes

Parents will now need to consider the new changes if they are seeking to have their own private agreed care arrangements formalised in a consent order, for those parents (and mediators) who are to proceed to mediation and for those parents with current filings in the court.

If you need clarification regarding the latest amendments to the Family Law Act, consult our experienced family law specialists at Ramsden Family Law. We are here to provide you with the necessary legal support and guidance to help you navigate parenting arrangements and protect the best interest of your child/ children.

We understand that each family law matter is unique therefore, we can provide customised solutions and legal strategies suited to your specific circumstances. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your family law matter.

The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance to the subject matter and must not be relied on as legal advice. Specific advice should be sought about your circumstances.