It has often been said that when Australia’s white Anglo-Saxon founding fathers drafted the Constitution in 1901, they could not have foreseen how family constellations would change over the next century and how family law would (or would not) keep abreast of those changes.
We now have many different types of families. We have families with and without children, single parents and blended or step families. We have heterosexual and same-sex de facto couples; separated, divorced and widowed couples. We also have families with children born through assisted reproductive technology or altruistically “acquired” through surrogacy, adoption or foster care.
All these are well depicted in popular culture including a plethora of television shows dating back to Batman and his ward Robin, and the ever-happy blended Brady Bunch through to the contemporary How I Met Your Mother and comic Modern Family.
The truth is, however, that the Old and New Testaments hold numerous examples of precursors to the traditional nuclear family of a father, mother and two children.
Adam and Eve had two sons and then one son killed his brother, transforming their dynamic to a one-child family. Moses was abandoned and raised by strangers. Rachel could not conceive and added a child to her family through a surrogate. Ruth and Naomi were both widowed and childless but made a life together. Jesus Christ was a product of an immaculate conception and brought up by foster parents.
Given these examples, it has taken millennia for the law to catch up.
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