Fam­i­ly Court merg­er to change the way we separate

The Fam­i­ly Court of Aus­tralia has announced its ambi­tion to achieve a world-lead­ing best prac­tice fam­i­ly law sys­tem” with rad­i­cal changes to take effect from 1 Sep­tem­ber 2021.

Speak­ing to the legal pro­fes­sion, Fam­i­ly Court Chief Jus­tice Will Alster­gren detailed the plan for next month’s merg­er of the Fam­i­ly Court and the Fed­er­al Cir­cuit Court of Aus­tralia (FCF­COA). These details include:

  • One entry point to the new Court, which is to be renamed the Fam­i­ly Court and Fed­er­al Court of Australia;
  • One set of forms and rules, to sim­pli­fy the Fam­i­ly Court system;
  • 10 addi­tion­al judges, mak­ing a total of 90 spe­cial­ist judges decid­ing fam­i­ly law cases;
  • Greater efforts to help­ing sep­a­rat­ing cou­ples to set­tle their dis­putes ear­ly, with­out the need for a final hear­ing; and
  • Increased focus on par­ties com­ply­ing with the Court’s direc­tions as a case moves along the case man­age­ment track.

The Court hopes the over­haul will result in 90 per cent of cas­es resolved with­in 12 months of the ini­tial fil­ing date. This would be a remark­able change to the cur­rent wait­ing times, with some cas­es still await­ing judg­ment three years after filing. 

Over­all, the aim of the new Court was to pro­vide just out­comes while pri­ori­tis­ing the safe­ty of chil­dren, and to do so as quick­ly, inex­pen­sive­ly and effi­cient­ly as pos­si­ble,” the Chief Jus­tice said.

For assis­tance in under­stand­ing how the Court merg­er affects cur­rent lit­i­gants — and also those who may be con­sid­er­ing Court action — we rec­om­mend seek­ing advice from one of our expe­ri­enced Fam­i­ly Lawyers. 

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