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Changes coming to “advisers” obligations

The Family Law Act is changing on 6 May 2024 – and while there has understandably been much talk about the changes to the sections dealing with parental responsibility and the framework for making parenting arrangements there are also changes coming in relation to the obligations on “advisers”.

“Advisers” is defined as legal practitioners, family counsellors, family consultants and family dispute resolution practitioners.

The amendments to advisers’ obligations are covered in the new sections 60D and 63DA.  The changes to advisers’ obligations reflect the changes to the parenting arrangement framework.

Once the changes come into effect advisers will still need to ensure that they encourage their clients – or the parents/carers (depending on the adviser’s role) – to act in the child’s best interests; it is just now that the matters relevant to a Court in determining the best interests have changed to the following:

  1. What arrangements promote safety;
  2. Any views expressed by the child;
  3. The developmental, psychological, emotional and cultural needs of the child;
  4. The capacity of each parent/carer to provide for the needs of the child;
  5. The benefit to the child of having a relationship with their parents/carers; and
  6. Anything else that is relevant to the particular circumstances of the child.

Advisers are also no longer required to advise their clients to consider the possibility of the child spending equal time with each parent – or substantial and significant time if equal time was not reasonably practicable.  This reflects the removal of those terms/considerations from the Act.  

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation

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