Senator Lionel Murphy introduced his Family Law Bill into the Senate as a replacement for the Matrimonial Causes Act. Senator Murphy introduced the Bill with the words “Mr President, this measure is a most important social reform. It will affect the lives of many.” (Hansard 13.12.73)
The Family Law Act was passed in December 1975 and a look at the table below will show just how many Australian families have been affected.
|Year||Marriages||Divorces||Divorce Rate %||Average length of Marriages|
Obviously, there are other factors contributing to the rising divorce figures than just the “no-fault” divorce laws. Just as there are other factors contributing to the lessening in popularity of marriage. The following table shows quite clearly countries embracing a “no fault” divorce policy have substantially higher rates of divorce. Perhaps we can learn something from this?
|Country||Divorce Rate %||Source|
|Australia||49.48||ABS 1996 Stats|
|New Zealand||42.0||1995 stats|
|Great Britain||66.0||SBS TV 7 Days Program|
|U.S.A.||65.0||Time Magazine March 1966|
Germany has not embraced “no fault divorce” Note the level of divorce in that country.
The Australian Family Court claims only 5% of cases come before a Judge. According to Justice John Faulks (Bulletin 18.10.94) “Just because 95% of people who file Custody or Property don’t end up before a judge does not mean that they like what they end up with; a settlement simply means that ‘one party has prevailed’. Or that one party has given up. The fact that people have reached and agreement might simply mean that they are tired.”
Far more likely is ‘they have run out of money’ and can no longer afford to pursue their action before the court when the respondent is in possession of a seemingly never-ending flow of taxpayers dollars via Legal Aid; or they decide to withdraw to prevent their children being used as the prize awarded to the winner!
Of the 5% of custody cases decided by the Family Court, 31% are in favour of the father and a further 8% are allocated as split, joint or other (another custodian) decisions. (Sophy Bordow 1992) In the situation of Consent Orders the study shows 79% custody is with the mother, 18% father and split 3%.
Much more to follow when I’m able to collate the vast amount of info and put it on-line. Any offers of assistance would be greatly appreciated – Ed.