Evaluate the effectiveness of the law in achieving justice for parties involved in relationship breakdown. Legislation and cases strive to achieve justice for all parties involved in a relationship breakdown. However, justice can be difficult to achieve as the law does not always uphold the rights of individuals. The law does reflect social and community values and strives to be accessible.
Divorce is an example of the law being easily enforced, while with disputes involving children effectiveness isn’t always achieved. Amendments to legislation now make the law more effective when dealing with relationship breakdown’s between same sex couples and de facto relationships. Divorce is becoming more common in society, this means that legislation has been made more effective in achieving individuals rights. The Family Law Act 1975 (cth) established ‘no fault’ divorce, as long as the couple is separate for 12months, that overturned the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959 (Cth). Divorce is an effective method in achieving justice for parties involved in a relationship breakdown.
An example of this is in the case Pavey v Pavey 1976, this case established ‘separate under one roof,’ this allowed couples to get a divorce even if they were living together due to financial strain. Pavey v Pavey is an example of how the law achieves justice for individuals and the accessibility of the law. Most issues related to relationship breakdown involves children, legislation has been improved in recent years to overcome this, but there are still many cases where justice isn’t achieved for all parties.
The Child Support (assessment) Act 1984 (cth) aims to deduct money to support the child if the parent isn’t living with them. The Federal Government in 1990 ratified the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. This ruled that all cases were to be solved in the ‘best interests of the child.’ The Family Law Reform Act 1995 (Cth) recognises ‘best interests of the child’ and also changes ‘custody’ to ‘residency’ and ‘contact.’ This legislation has effectively achieved justice for families however, the ‘best interests of the child’ and the presumption of shared parenting outlined in the Family Law Amendment Act (Shared Responsibilities) Act 2006 (NSW) was overturned by the High Court.
The High Court overturned ‘best interests of the child’ in the case MRR V GR 2010, as shared parenting wasn’t reasonably practible and the rights of the individual was not being upheld. MRR v GR is an example of how legislation is not effective, but due to the responsiveness of the legal system, justice was achieved. The Family Law Amendment (Shared Responsibilities) Act 2006 (NSW) also created Family Relationship Centres that allowed families to resolve disputes and there is compulsory 3 hours mediation in the breakdown of a marriage involving children. The law has been effective in achieving justice for parties involved in a relationship breakdown as it upholds community values, is accessible and responsive and aims to protect the rights of individuals.
The law is also responsive in protecting the rights of individuals through the media and lobby groups. Lobby Groups such as Dads in Distress, aimed to establish shared parenting as they were unable to see their children. This lead to reforms in the Family Law Act with a presumption of shared parenting. However the media has given reports of children being at risk because of shared parenting. This is shown in the SMH report ‘For the Sake of the Children.’ The law has to reflect community’s conflicting vales and therefore is not always effective in protecting the rights of the individual.
Unmarried couples also have to be protected in the event of a relationship breakdown and justice must be achieved. The Property (Relationships) Act 1984 (NSW) defines de facto relationships and included same sex relationships in the definition. This act protects individuals in the situation of a relationship breakdown by identifying which parties get what. The SMH released an article, ‘Here’s an Idea’ that recognises de facto relationships as a valid choice and that they should be protected by the law.
Through recent legislation reforms individual’s rights are achieved, as well as the law being accessible. However, legislation is not always responsive, as de facto relationships were only defined in 1984, and they did not have the same rights as married couples until then. The law is effective in achieving justice for parties involved in a relationship breakdown. Divorce is easily accessible and responsive. Relationship breakdown including children is mainly effective in protecting the rights of individuals and upholding societal values. Through recent legislation developments the relationship breakdown of de facto relationships is now treated the same as the dissolution of marriage. The law is mostly effective in achieving justice and protecting the rights of individuals involved in a relationship breakdown.
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