Wednesday, 12 November 2008

De facto bill passes

The Senate on Monday passed the changes to the Family Law Act. The Parliament House website reports that there were 34 amendments to the Bill at Committee stage in the Senate.

The de facto changes will allow de facto couples, including same sex couples, in effect the same rights as married couples as to property settlement (including super splitting)and spousal maintenance, and create a partial national scheme enabling those couples to go to the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court.

Some agreements entered into before the commencement(expected in March) between de facto couples will be agreements under the changes. Couples will have the opportunity, under limited circumstances, to opt into the changes. Otherwise the changes will only apply to those who separate after the changes take effect.

It is essential that those who are considering separating get legal advice now- as the changes might make a significant difference to their rights.

Last I heard, the scheme applied to all States and Territories except Western Australia and South Australia, although the Commonwealth was still negotiating with them, and in some respects the scheme will still apply to those States.The next post will be a very long paper I prepared about the Bill (but not including the current amendments).

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