On 19 September 2019, the Parliament established the joint-committee-family-lawJoint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System. The committee is to present its final report by 7 October 2020.
I am writing to draw your attention to the inquiry and to invite you or your organisation to make a submission to this inquiry. Submissions are due by 18 December 2019.
A copy of the committee’s terms of reference is attached and further information on the committee’s inquiry is available on the committee’s website. There is no requirement to address the full terms of reference in your submission, and you may choose to comment only on the terms of reference that are of interest or relevance to you.
As the committee is seeking to publicise its work as widely as possible, we would appreciate you referring this letter of invitation to any colleague or organisation you think would like to contribute to the inquiry. The committee has also developed a submission template for individuals to assist them in making a submission to the inquiry and address the terms of reference.
The committee prefers submissions to be submitted online. Alternatively, submissions may be sent by email to email@example.com as an attached Adobe PDF or MS Word format document, or in hard copy to the address below. E-mailed and hardcopy submissions should include your name, phone number and postal address (in the email, not the submission) so that we can verify them and/or contact you.
Please note that on receipt, submissions become committee documents and are made public only after a decision of the committee. Publication of submissions includes uploading them to the internet where they are available to the public, including to the media and other interested stakeholders.
The committee will normally make submissions public unless there is a request for confidentiality. If you would like your submission, or part of it, to be kept confidential, please make this request clear in the submission.
Any person making a submission must not release the submission without the approval of the committee. Submissions are covered by parliamentary privilege; however the unauthorised disclosure of a submission is not protected.
Information on Senate Committees, including notes to assist in the preparation of submissions is available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Making_a_submission
If you have any questions about making a submission, or about the inquiry more generally, please contact the Committee Secretariat on firstname.lastname@example.org or on (02) 6277 3439.
Terms of Reference
That a joint select committee, to be known as the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System, be established to inquire into and report on the following matters:
- ongoing issues and further improvements relating to the interaction and information sharing between the family law system and state and territory child protection systems, and family and domestic violence jurisdictions, including:
- the process, and evidential and legal standards and onuses of proof, in relation to the granting of domestic violence orders and apprehended violence orders, and
- the visibility of, and consideration given to, domestic violence orders and apprehended violence orders in family law proceedings;
- the appropriateness of family court powers to ensure parties in family law proceedings provide truthful and complete evidence, and the ability of the court to make orders for non-compliance and the efficacy of the enforcement of such orders;
- beyond the proposed merger of the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court any other reform that may be needed to the family law and the current structure of the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court;
- the financial costs to families of family law proceedings, and options to reduce the financial impact, with particular focus on those instances where legal fees incurred by parties are disproportionate to the total property pool in dispute or are disproportionate to the objective level of complexity of parenting issues, and with consideration being given amongst other things to banning ‘disappointment fees’, and:
- capping total fees by reference to the total pool of assets in dispute, or any other regulatory option to prevent disproportionate legal fees being charged in family law matters, and
- any mechanisms to improve the timely, efficient and effective resolution of property disputes in family law proceedings;
- the effectiveness of the delivery of family law support services and family dispute resolution processes;
- the impacts of family law proceedings on the health, safety and wellbeing of children and families involved in those proceedings;
- any issues arising for grandparent carers in family law matters and family law court proceedings;
- any further avenues to improve the performance and monitoring of professionals involved in family law proceedings and the resolution of disputes, including agencies, family law practitioners, family law experts and report writers, the staff and judicial officers of the courts, and family dispute resolution practitioners;
- any improvements to the interaction between the family law system and the child support system;
- the potential usage of pre-nuptial agreements and their enforceability to minimise future property disputes; and
- any related matters.
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