Lyndon B. Johnson, a past president of the United States of America, once said, "The family is the corner stone of our society. More than any other force, it shapes the attitude, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child. And, when the family collapses it is the children that are usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled. So, unless we work to strengthen the family, to create conditions under which most parents will stay together, all the rest -- schools, playgrounds, and public assistance, and private concern -- will never be enough."
The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) is the principal law in Australia on matters concerning divorce, property settlement after marriage, spousal maintenance, and issues relating to children's arrangements after separation and divorce (Laing, 2003). The Act not only introduced a single non-fault ground of divorce, but also greatly expanded the scope of federal family law (Australian Government, 2003).
It gave the then newly created Family Court of Australia wide powers to make orders for financial adjustment for spouses and children, whether or not the matters arose in connection with divorce. It also created a wide power to make orders relating to custody, access and guardianship of children (Family Court of Australia, 2004). The Act emphasises the obligations of parents and the best interests of the children. All children are covered by the Act, regardless of whether their parents are married, separated, have never married, or have never lived together. However, the Act does not cover property disputes between de facto couples (AustLII, 2000).
The principal aim of the Family Law Act 1975 was to reform the law governing the dissolution of a marriage and was a response by the government at the time to what it...