The Australian Law Reform Commission has launched a review of the family law system that will include issues relating to rainbow families.

The review paper is available to read online, and submissions can be made by the public.

The review will cover 47 questions around family law, including how the accessibility of the family law system can be improved for LGBTIQ people.

The review paper states that latest census data shows more same-sex couples in Australia than previous years—a 36 per cent increase between 2011 and 2016.

The paper acknowledges that the family law system must catch up with changing norms and laws around same-sex couples and rainbow families.

“Access issues for LGBTI people need to be contextualised within an understanding of the regency of the legal recognition of same-sex relationships,” it reads.

“Although there has been a sustained focus on marriage equality over many years in the human rights sphere, in the family law system there has been limited attention paid to the extent to which it is equipped to meet the needs of clients in LGBTI groups.”

The review will address matters including medical issues, property, and parenting.

The paper notes that same-sex couples who separate can experience “an added layer of difficulty to their separation process due to their concerns around finding the support of a service provider”.

The review is also concerned with addressing service access barriers that LGBTI people may encounter when they experience family and domestic violence.

Family law matters around children who are trans or intersex will be addressed by the review as well, particularly in relation to medical care and transition.

“The existing evidence and initial consultations for this inquiry suggest a need for consideration of the extent to which services in the family law system are presently configured to respond to the needs of clients from LGBTI groups,” the paper reads.

“The ALRC welcomes further stakeholder input about this issue.”

As well as rainbow families, the review will also cover groups including Indigenous Australians, people living in rural areas, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Submissions to the family law system review close on May 7.

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