Family law is a complex and emotionally charged field.  Family law includes legal matters related to property settlement, financial agreements, asset planning and protection, parenting disputes and parentage issues, adoption, child support, surrogacy and donor agreements.Over time, various family law myths and misconceptions have emerged surrounding family law, often fuelled by sensationalised media portrayals and anecdotal experiences. These can lead to confusion, anxiety, and misinformed decisions for those navigating the family law system. In this post, New South Lawyers’ Family Lawyers will attempt to educate with accurate and reliable information to see some common family law myths debunked. By dispelling these myths, our family lawyers aim to provide individuals with a clearer understanding of their rights and responsibilities in family law matters, ultimately helping them make more informed decisions during these challenging times.

Common Family Law myths debunked

There are many popular, albeit false, beliefs regarding the family law system in Australia. Among them, are the misconceptions that family law courts in Australia will always:

Firstly, favour mothers over fathers in family law parenting disputes; Secondly, grant exclusive possession and occupation of the family home to wives and not husbands following separation; Thirdly, grant the parent with sole parental responsibility unlimited rights in relation to the child; and Finally, allow the parent with sole parental responsibility to travel with the child to a Hague Convention country.

Examples of Family Law myths debunked in a recent Australian case

The recent case of Norris & Ishkawa provides several examples of common family law myths debunked.  Below are some key points about the facts and judgment that challenged these false beliefs. In this case:

Husband has sole parental responsibility of the children

The Honourable Judge made interim orders in 2021 for the:1. children to live with the father in the family home;2. father to have primary care and sole parental responsibility for the children;3. mother to spend very limited time with the children due to the allegations of risk to the children.

Husband has exclusive possession of the family home.

The court also ordered that husband to have sole possession and exclusive occupation of the family home.

Husband’s application to travel to Hague Country refused

In the most recent interim hearing in August 2023 in this matter, the Court refused to make an order for the father to travel to a Hague Convention country.

How is this possible?

The Family Law Act, which is currently undergoing reforms, provides that in making any parenting order in relation to a child, the Court must regard the best interests of the child as paramount. In determining the best interest of a child, the Court is required to primarily consider the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child’s parents, in the absence of physical or psychological harm from exposure or being subjected, to abuse, neglect or family violence. This means the rights of both parents are secondary to the best interest of the child.In this case, each party contended allegations of family violence and psychological harm. Although the Court was unable to make findings on the evidence, the Court properly decided to note the allegations and clearly act cautiously in making both sets of Orders.

New South Lawyers’ communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. To that end, people should not rely on this communication as legal advice. Accordingly, they should seek formal legal advice for matters of interest arising from this communication.

To find out more, chat with a member of the New South Lawyers Family Law Team today.