Legal Stuies - Family Essay

Evaluate the effectiveness of the law in dealing with family members.

There are a number of legal issues faced by family members including divorce, IVF birth technology, alternative family arrangements, and domestic violence. However, the effectiveness of the law in dealing with these issues ranges significantly as the law does not treat all family members equally. The effectiveness of family law can be measured using criteria including protection and recognition, accessibility, resource efficiency, equality, and enforceability.

One legal issue faced by family members is the increasing prevalence of divorce. In previous years, dissolution of marriage was inaccessible and not recognised as it is today, since the common law attempted to ‘protect the institution of marriage’. For example, the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 (UK) allowed a man or woman to divorce only if their partner had committed adultery and if proven, the woman would lose access to the children. Therefore there were very few cases. Decades later, the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959 (Cth) allowed for 14 grounds for divorce, 13 based on the concept of fault. This Act was an improvement for the equality of women in the relationship, however did not cover all areas resulting in relationship breakdowns. Hence, the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) introduced “no fault” divorce which states that for a divorce to be valid there must be an “irretrievable breakdown of marriage.” It also involves the couple living “separately and apart” for a period of twelve months. As seen in the Whiteoak v Whiteoak 1980 case, the law proves to be effective in protecting and recognising the rights of women who were allowed by the law to divorce their husbands based on a no-fault divorce. It is also resource efficient as the no fault clause results in cheaper court costs and shorter time as a result of other dispute mechanisms enforced such as counselling, mediation and arbitration.

Additionally the law anticipates to...