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Children and 'Family' Law

Young, L. (2008) Children and 'Family' Law. In: Monahan, Geoff and Young, Lisa, (eds.) Children and the Law in Australia. LexisNexis Butterworths, Australia, pp. 355-379.


The term ‘family law’ suggests a body of laws that deals with all legal issues to families. In Australia, the ambit of what is generally referred to as ‘family law’ is, in fact, quite narrow In part, this stems from the fact that the Federal Government (which has limited law-making powers) has power under the Constitution to make laws relating to divorce and marriage and it has chosen to exercise those powers, predominantly through the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (FLA). Thus, much of what is commonly referred to as ‘family law’ deals with marriage and divorce and things incidental to those processes, such as property settlements and parenting disputes. However, as the resolution of parenting disputes involve parents who have never beets married to each other (and, therefore, fall outside Commonwealth constitutional power), the states have referred to the Commonwealth the power to legislate on those disputes. As a result, today we have a set of Commonwealth laws that govern a range of matters including the formation of marriage, the dissolution of marriage, the resolution of parenting disputes and child support. This is what is generally meant when referring to ‘family law’.

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Law
Publisher: LexisNexis Butterworths
Copyright: LexisNexis Butterworths
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