President of the Law Society of NSW, Elizabeth Espinosa, said today that urgent basic problems with the family law system caused by decades of underfunding and under-resourcing need to be addressed immediately.
Ms Espinosa said the Law Society of NSW has long identified a need for reforms that provide the best outcomes for families who rely on the courts to help them resolve these complex and emotional disputes, often within the context of the insidious and increasing scourge of family violence.
“Everyone who works in the family law system is only too aware of the significant financial and emotional stresses on families caught up in lengthy court disputes, the consequences of which can have a life-long impact on physical and mental health, housing, career and future relationships,” she said.
“Solicitors work hard to ensure the best possible outcome for members of the community who are involved in family law disputes, and that includes exploring a variety of means to resolve the dispute as quickly and fairly as possible” she said.
“In dealing with complex family law matters, solicitors have strict ethical obligations to both the courts and their clients – these ethical obligations have a very long history and are well established at law.
“Ultimately, the best interest of the child is the paramount consideration in family law matters involving any children, especially those involving domestic and family violence.”
Ms Espinosa said that, notwithstanding the immediate need for more resources for the courts, the Law Society, which represents 43% of the nation’s solicitors, will actively engage with the recently established Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System via its national body, the Law Council of Australia.
“As part of our submission, the Law Society of NSW will be urging the Joint Select Committee to consider the 60 recommendations that were made in the Australian Law Reform Commission’s detailed report on the family law system – recommendations that the Federal Government is yet to respond to.”
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