Cultural Diversity Family Law

Cultural Considerations in Family Law

As we enjoy another Cultural Diversity Week here in Victoria we have the opportunity to reflect and celebrate our wonderful differences in culture, in food, in language and traditions of our migrants across the world and our first nations peoples which has made Australia one of the most successful multicultural societies in the world[1].

Within our great melting pot of cultures many Australians have forged relationships with a spouse that is outside their own ethnic group which brings with it a celebration of traditions, languages, food and raising children to enjoy the cultural and religious beliefs of both parents. However, upon separation this often brings significant challenges when parents can no longer agree on what is best for their children.

In family law, religious and cultural diversity has posed several challenges, particularly in relation to parenting arrangements, circumcision, divorce and polygamy[2]. In our experience the impact of cultural diversity is most strongly felt in relation to parenting matters in family law.

In Australia, we are fortunate that the Family Law Act 1975 recognises the significance of a child’s cultural background. Further, when judicial officers of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia are presiding over parenting matters in the context of deciding what is in the child’s best interest they must consider the “…background (including lifestyle, culture and traditions) of the child and of either of the child‘s parents pursuant to sub-section 60CC(3)(g) of the Family Law Act.

This is more prominently and specifically recognised for children that identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander whereby the Family Law Act 1975 creates a right for the children of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent to enjoy their culture pursuant to sections 60CC(3)(h) and 60CC(6).

At Umbrella Family Law we regularly assist our separating clients to consider formalising important cultural and religious occasions, and traditions when negotiating parenting arrangements with their spouse whether this is prior to the Family Dispute Resolution stage, during negotiations through the parties’ respective solicitors or as part of the court process.

Parenting matters by nature are complex and with the addition of cultural, religious and other considerations it is important to obtain legal advice as early as possible to ensure that your children have the opportunity to enjoy and celebrate their culture and traditions.

At Umbrella Family Law we take a holistic approach to assisting our clients and we can provide you and your family with more than just legal advice. If you would like to learn more please contact Umbrella Family Law for a confidential discussion today.

 

 

[1] Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in his Foreword in Australia’s Multicultural Statement: United, Strong, Successful issued by the Department of Home Affairs

(https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/mca/Statements/english-multicultural-statement.pdf)

[2] Freedom of Religion and Belief in the 21st Century – Supplementary Paper at page 1 (https://humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/content/frb/papers/Family_Law.pdf)