Evaluate the effectiveness of the law in responding to the changing nature of the family.

Essay by 0 January 2006

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Family law is continually undergoing change. As the definition of a family so does the legislation that protects it. A family has become more nuclear and less extended in nature, grandparents are now often the responsibility of the government rather than the family. The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) defines a family as 'the natural and fundamental group unit in society, particularly while it is responsible for care and education of dependent children". The composition of a family has changed from the husband and wife and their 2.5 children to many different alternatives of families emerging from the changing nature of family law, such as-

* Marriage

* Aboriginal and Torres strait islander customary marriages

* Polygamous marriage

* Defacto relationships

* Same sex relationships

* Single parent families

* DINKS (couples who deliberately choose not to have kids)

* Blended families

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (FLA) changed the nature of the way we divorce, it introduced the concept of non-fault divorce, with only one ground available, this is an 'irretrievable breakdown' of the marriage.

To prove this breakdown the couple has to be separated for 12 months before applying for the divorce. In divorce laws before the FLA women tended to be treated differently to men, with men often gaining more property, the introduction of no fault divorce in the FLA aimed to make divorce more equal. The Family Law Reform Act 1995 introduced new terminology for the terms custody and access, this was aimed to encourage divorcing parents to agree on arrangements in relation to the care and responsibility of their children rather than asking the court to do so, today only 5% of divorces end up in the family court, although this figure could be greater if divorcees didn't have the restraints of cost, time,