Family Law

Put kids’ safety first in family law

Survivors of family violence should be supported to build safer futures for their family. 

But too often, perpetrators who use abuse against their partner, also wield that abuse against their children. And right now, confusing and complex Family Law legislation overly emphasises shared and cooperative parenting - which is difficult and dangerous when there has been a history of domestic violence. 

The court’s current “equal shared parental responsibility” emphasis is so strong that children are being hurt, and survivors are being forced to maintain contact with a perpetrator who is harming them. Multiple reviews have highlighted the need for change.

There’s a new inquiry into family law scheduled in federal parliament -- and the Government has announced that they intend for it to inform the nation’s plan to address family violence. Can you help show strong public support for changing the rules to put children’s safety first? Sign the petition to join the campaign for change.

More information (click to view) 

Many people believe the presumption of “equal shared parental responsibility” means equal time – in fact, the current rules result in many victims of violence agreeing to shared care arrangements with perpetrators because they believe it is required under the law. This can result in many children spending longer periods of time with perpetrators than is in their best interests. 

Multiple reports have raised concerns about the impacts of equal shared parental responsibility on children when domestic and family violence is present. The Family Violence Law Reform Report of the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Parliamentary Committee recommended the removal of this presumption in 2017, and the Australian Law Reform Commission recommended the presumption be replaced in 2019.

Services have made clear that courts should not be assuming a predetermined outcome in family law - especially with such high levels of domestic violence in the system. The Morrison Government can protect children by removing the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility and instead making children’s safety the priority.

*This is one of five urgent changes that domestic violence experts told government was needed to improve women's safety in the wake of Hannah Clarke's murder. You can see the full list  here:

Sign the petition

To the Morrison Government, and all Senators, 

I believe children’s rights to safety should be prioritised in family court proceedings. 

We need to urgently protect children. I urge you to remove the presumption of ‘equal shared parental responsibility’ and put children's safety first.


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