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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.