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Changing Aspects Of Australian Family Law

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No matter whether a person is an adult or a child, married, single or divorced, family law enters each person's life to some degree. Family law is a mixture of state and federal law and most areas are dealt with by statute rather than by common law. The courts play a major role in the interpretation of statutes and their application to individual cases. In 1984 the New South Wales government recognised relationships, other than marriage when it passed the De Facto Relationships Act 1984 (NSW). This was a change in morality. While many people lived in non-marriage relationships, there had been no legal recognition of such relationships. Therefore, there had been no legal protection similar to that available for married couples for those within de facto relationships. There were still, and still are today, many people who find this type of relationship immoral. However, the majority of society accept that these relationships exist and should be protected by the law.

A greater shift in morality has been the recognition of same sex relationships in common and now statue law. There has been a gradual recognition at common law of same sec relationships since the early 1990s. The protection via statue law occurred in 1999 with the Property (Relationships) Legislation Amendment Act 1999 (NSW). This legislation extended the protection offered under the De Facto Relationships Act 1984 (NSW) and renamed the statue to the Property (Relationships) Act 1984 (NSW).

Under the constitution, only the federal government can make laws about marriage and divorce. In 1988, the states gave the federal government power to make laws about custody of all children, not just those born into a marriage. This was a great win for de facto and same-sex relationships as it brings equality throughout Australia instead of in individual states.



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