Family law changes delayed by Fielding illness

March 28, 2006 - 9:22PM

Family First senator Steve Fielding has been hospitalised with intense abdominal pain.

The Victorian senator was taken to Canberra Hospital early today after complaining of stomach pains.

He was hooked onto a drip and was receiving morphine but was likely to need surgery, a spokeswoman for the senator said.

It is possible his condition is related to complications from a burst appendix.

"He had a burst appendix a while ago," she said.

"He had a stomach ache this morning, but he was quite distressed."

Senator Fielding's wife, Susan, flew into Canberra this morning after he was taken ill.

He will be on leave from his parliamentary duties for the rest of the week, the spokeswoman said.

A significant piece of legislation paving the way for an overhaul of family law in Australia has been delayed because of Senator Fielding's illness.

The biggest changes to the family law system in more than 30 years are designed to encourage shared parenting, mediation outside the courts, and establish a new definition of domestic violence.

Senator Fielding plans to move amendments which are unlikely to be successful but would considerably change the family law package.

Family First wants to force equal time with each parent, rather than just requiring judges to consider that option.

The amendments could be moved in Senator Fielding's absence, his spokeswoman said.