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Family Law Changes

It is fast approaching a year since the Victorian Government introduced the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006 on 1 July 2006. The new legislation has introduced a presumption that parents are to have shared parental responsibility after separation.

While the new legislation is primarily aimed at giving parents more equal parental responsibility, it will also affect financial settlements between the parties.

The parent who has greater responsibility with the children of the marriage, receives a greater proportion of the assets of the marriage. The number of children and the younger the children are increases the responsibility on the parent who lives with the children. Where this responsibility is shared more equally, so too the assets of the marriage are shared more equally.

The Victorian Government has also reviewed the child support scheme and is introducing changes to child support in 3 stages. Stage 1 was brought in with the shared parental responsibly provisions on 1 July 2006. Stage 2 was brought in on 1 January 2007 and stage 3 will commence on 1 July 2007.

Under the child support amendments, minimum child support will be increased by $60.00 per year and the non resident parent will pay a greater proportion for essential items. These increases will, however, be able to be offset by a non resident parent who takes greater responsibility for the children. For example, a 24% reduction in child support will be awarded where the non resident parent has a child one night a week.

While the new legislation has yet to be fully brought in, the message that the Victorian Government is sending to separating parents is loud and clear. Parents are being urged to take a more equal arrangement for the day to day responsibility of their children. As well as spending more time with the children, a non resident parent who increases their time with their children will also pay less child support and retain a greater share of the marital assets.

If you have any questions in relation to family law, please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.