No-Fault Divorce in Australia
For decades, if you wanted a divorce in Australia, you had to prove your spouse was to blame. No-fault divorce was not legal by local law.
The grounds ranged from habitual drunkenness to adultery, and many cases involved the use of private investigators.
Some couples who privately agreed to separate would even have to stage adulterous trysts for later evidential use in court.
This all changed in 1975 with the introduction of “no-fault divorce” and the Family Court system.
Family law in Australia has come under intense scrutiny since then, with dozens of reports — including a 2019 Australian Law Reform Commission review — and more than 100 amendments to the Family Law Act.
No-fault Divorce: 1975
In 1975, the government passed the Family Law Act with a firm majority: 80-41 votes.
The law introduced, for the first time, no-fault divorce.
It also established a federal court to deal with family law issues.
“Family law was viewed as run by very strict doctrinal principles that didn’t really take into consideration the psychological and social consequences of a breakdown of a relationship,” Dr. Kha says.
“The aim of the Family Law Act was to remedy those problems by introducing a Family Court of Australia that would not only deal with legal issues but provide counselling services.”
In the first year, the law was implemented, there was a surge in divorces in Australia.
Since its implementation, the family law system has been the subject of dozens of inquiries and amendments.
Patrick Parkinson, the Dean of Law at the University of Queensland, says when considering family law reform, it’s important to remember that the Family Court deals with much more than just marital disputes.