By Paul Fildes, Principal

I cannot quite believe that it is already that time of year where I take a moment to look back and reflect on the year and put forward my annual Christmas Musings!

The year 2023 has unfortunately had less ups than downs, been politically charged and has seen some ‘changing of the guards’.  From the devastating Israel / Gaza conflict to the unsuccessful Voice referendum, the Commonwealth Games fiasco, the continuing interest rate hikes, the Optus crash (which came on the heels of the cyber hack the previous year), to Dan Andrews and Alan Joyce’s retirements, Phillip Lowe’s ousting and the deaths of Father Bob, Barry Humphries, Jock Zonfrillo and Ron Barassi to name a few; it has certainly been a year of crisis, outrage, shock and sadness mixed with wry amusement, ‘told you so’ head shaking and mild confusion.

There have also been some positives, which I chose to focus on in this year’s musings.  Paul McCartney toured Australia in November to prove age is no barrier and Taylor Swift announced an Australian Tour in 2024 (unfortunately I missed out on tickets..), King Charles was coronated (I am British, after all), we learned about Prince Harry’s frostbitten “todger” thanks to the release of Spare (information I never knew I needed), and it was announced that the Ozone is repairing itself.  On a sporting front, the Aussies won the Cricket World Cup in a thrilling final and the Diamonds are Netball world champions (we won’t discuss the Wallabies).

Meanwhile in family law land, TCF was once again ranked as First Tier nationally by Doyle’s Guide for 2024, and I was also once again ranked as preeminent in Family Law both in Victoria and nationally, which is a positive note to round out the year. In the new year the focus will turn to the impact of the recent amendments to the Family Law Act and the effect these will have on parties involved in (or contemplating) parenting litigation.  The objects of the Act have been simplified and the legislative pathway will be much easier to follow.  It will take some time for family lawyers to work out the possible implications of the new legislation which will come into effect in the second half of 2024.  In my opinion the Full Court will need to provide guidance on relocation cases and I suspect that the Court will move away from shared-care arrangements with the non-primary parent enjoying somewhere between four nights and five nights out of 14 in a standard parenting case.  Family lawyers will also be following the Family Law Amendment Bill No 2, which will deal with property reforms.  It appears that the four-step process which is so familiar to family lawyers will be codified and family violence will be considered by the Court both at the contributions and future needs stage. 

In summary, and clearly reflective of current social norms, safety will be a key feature in parenting matters and family violence a real consideration in the property jurisdiction. 

I wish you all a safe and happy festive season.