The Future of Family Law Property Settlement in Australia: A 50:50 Split or a Community of Property Regime? Some Issues for Women

Angela Lynch, Zoe Rathus, Rachael Field
1999 QUT Law Review  
1999) 'community of property' system where on the breakdown of a marriage each party gets 50% of the communal property. The discussion paper shows that, in developing these reforms, the policy makers do not appear to have learnt from recent experience in relation to the Family Law Reform Act 1995 (Cth). 3 That is, they have ignored the expertise of women's groups, their ideas, issues and concerns. As a result the proposed 'reforms' amount to unjust and inappropriate changes to the law. And they
more » ... o the law. And they have not developed a clear 'rationale' for the 'reforms'. As the Chief Justice of the Family Court has put it, they have not made it clear "... what it is that needs to be reformed and why such reform is necessary." If either of the suggested amendments were implemented, they would have a disastrous impact on the economic and social position of women and children in Australia. We have no doubt they would lead to an increase in women and children living in poverty in Australia; an increase in women's reliance on social security and government support, and for longer periods; an increase in litigation (especially at the appellate level); and increased reliance on solicitors. Fortunately, it would appear that at this stage the government is holding back on developing either option fully. In a speech by the Hon Daryl Williams AM QC MP delivered on Wednesday 27 October 1999 to the National Press Club he said that: "... neither option in the discussion paper received significant support. The submissions overwhelmingly supported the retention of the status quo, with some minor modifications, rather than complete replacement of the existing regime." 5 The Women's Legal Service, Brisbane (WLS) is of the opinion that reform to the property sections of the Family Law Act is probably justified. However, reform must be careful and considered and not reactionary. When the government does decide to 3
doi:10.5204/qutlr.v15i0.475 fatcat:dpomq7bptbfntdzz6ebhkl2k7a