Journal Article

THE AUSTRALIAN FAMILY LAW REFORM ACT 1995 AND PUBLIC ATTITUDES TO PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY<sup>1</sup>

KATHLEEN FUNDER

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 12, issue 1, pages 47-61
Published in print April 1998 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online April 1998 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/12.1.47
THE AUSTRALIAN FAMILY LAW REFORM ACT 1995 AND PUBLIC ATTITUDES TO PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY1

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Although parental responsibilities are at the heart of Part VII of the Family Law Reform Act 1995, we know very little about what Australians, and particularly divorced parents who are directly affected by the law, think parents should do for their children. Even less is known about public opinion on the responsibilities of parents who are separated or divorced, have never married, or have never lived together. This paper—based on data from two national surveys commissioned by the Attorney General and carried out at the Australian Institute of Family Studies—presents data on attitudes towards shared core responsibilities among Australians, and details variations in these attitudes according to the marital status of the respondent and the family structure of the parent. The first survey samples all Australian households; the second is based on a unique sample of parents who separated under conditions applying in the seven years before the reforms and who had a dependent child at that time. From these two vantage points the study provides benchmark data on what Australians think on a range of parental responsibilities specified under the Family Law Reform Act 1995. The study is designed to provide repeated soundings of opinion in the years after the implementation of the reforms to the children's section of the Act, and thus to provide an eventual basis for assessing the impact of reforms on the attitudes of the general population and divorced people to parental responsibilities.

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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