Shayne Neumann, with 20 years' experience in family law, says the planned changes released yesterday are a fundamental shift away from the interests of parents back to the interests of children.
''Children are not chattels and these changes recognise that,'' he said.
The Commonwealth Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, and NSW Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, released an outline of the proposed changes.
They radically alter the approach taken in 2006 under the Howard government, which changed the Family Law Act to emphasise shared parenting.
The 2006 laws were championed by men's rights groups and were seen to better serve fathers seeking access to children after divorce or separation.
Crucially, under the proposed changes a court would be forced to put a child's protection from potential abuse above all considerations, even the child's right to have a relationship with both parents.
Mr Neumann, the Labor member for Blair, said the push by fathers' rights groups had driven the law too far towards parents' rights.
Under the changes, family violence would be redefined to recognise forms other than assault, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation.
The new definitions include a long list of criteria, including any behaviour that torments, intimidates or harasses a family.
''If a child is being forced to clean up blood after mum has been hit, for example, I believe that is a form of violence,'' Mr Neumann said.
He said a secondary effect would be that mothers would be protected from violent partners because they would be restrained from having relationships with anyone who posed a threat to the child.
''I think these changes will benefit everyone because, ultimately, they will lead to better parenting from both mothers and fathers.''
Mr McClelland said he wanted laws ensuring child safety concerns outweighed the need for a child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents.
''The courts will be required to have regard to, first and foremost, the welfare of the best interests of the child.''
The draft legislation is open for public comment until January next year.
A TIMELY PIECE OF NEWS THAT IS EVER TRUE - A CHILD COMES FIRST NOT THE PARENTS NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY, THE CHILD MUST BE PROTECTED FROM ANY MENTAL, EMOTIONAL OR PHYSICAL HARM.. I COULDN'T AGREE MORE