Family Law Courts reform

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On 30 May 2018 the Federal Government announced a significant shake up of the Australian Family Law Courts system.

Currently the Courts primarily exercising jurisdiction pursuant to the Family Law Act 1975 are the Federal Circuit Court (formerly the Federal Magistrates Court) and Family Court.

The Federal Circuit Court is responsible for the bulk of cases while the Family Court hears more complex cases and is responsible for Appeals.

It is envisaged these two Courts will merge into one new Court, namely, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

 

Court structure

Currently the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court share a registry, and this will effectively continue with the new Court having its own registry for all matters to be commenced in.

There will however be two divisions for the Court, with Division one consisting of the Federal Circuit Court judges; and Division two being made up of the Judges from the Family Court. A new Family Law Appeal division will be created within the Federal Court of Australia.

The details are not yet available however we can expect to see proposed legislation shortly.

One aspect that Family Lawyers will no doubt appreciate is moving towards one set of Court Rules as opposed to the current system operating under the Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 and the Family Court Rules 2004.

 

What this means for our clients

Hopefully this means a timelier resolution of Family Law matters and giving greater identification and consideration to complex issues cases.

The attorney Generals Department Fact Sheet states the aim is:

“…will create a consistent pathway for Australian Families in having their Family Law disputes dealt with in the first instance. The reforms are designed to maximise the use of highly trained and skilled judicial officers…to significantly improve access to justice for Australian families…improve efficiency…remove back log…drive faster, cheaper and more consistent resolution of disputes…”

Hopefully these aims can be achieved, and as many of our clients (or people currently in the Family Law system) would know, there have been lengthy delays in many registries including Brisbane, Lismore and Southport.

The Attorney General’s department has issued two fact sheets with respect to the proposed reforms and the fact and figures underlying the reforms, the links appear below:

  1. https://www.familylawsection.org.au/images/documents/20180530—Court-Reform-Fact-Sheet-1—w-Diagram.pdf
  2. https://www.familylawsection.org.au/images/documents/20180530—Court-Reform-Fact-Sheet-2.pdf

 

When will this take place?

Firstly, the legislation needs to be passed, but all going well the commencement date will be 1 January 2019.

If your matter is going to court and you need assistance, contact Hooper Family Lawyers at Victoria Point on (07) 3207 7663; or Hooper Family Lawyers Coolangatta on (07) 5599 3026.

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