Court Merger Heralds New Family Law Era

Posted 31-01-2022
Written by admin 101

In September, 2021 the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia merged to form one Court known as The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. The RMB Family Law Division explains.

Successive governments have talked for decades about reforming the Family Court, and the amalgamation of the two Court system now provides a single-entry point to the family law system.

It is the most significant change to the Family Law system since the Family Law Act was enacted in 1975.

Historically the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court have been associated with high caseloads, limited resources, extensive delays and compliance issues.

The purpose of the new Court is to facilitate the just resolution of disputes according to law, as quickly, inexpensively, and efficiently as possible.  The structure of the Court, rules and case management of Family Law matters is now uniform across the country.

To achieve its objectives, the Court will be governed by a new case management pathway and a single set of rules, to resolve the backlog of unheard matters and reduce waiting times for new matters.

This introduces judicial registrars to “case manage” matters before they are allocated to a Judge for hearing. The aim is to improve early risk identification and safety of vulnerable parties and also encourage litigants to separate with less acrimony and less cost, with a large focus and obligation placed on the parties to engage in dispute resolution (where it is safe to do so).

Under the new rules, the parties to Family Law proceedings must conduct the proceedings in a way that is consistent with the overarching purpose and the practitioners acting for them are required to take into account the duty imposed on their clients and assist their clients to comply with that duty.

The new rules require litigants to sign a “Genuine Steps Certificate” before commencing proceedings, which requires parties to co-operate with the other party and agree on an appropriate dispute resolution to service, participate in dispute resolution, and exchange copies of relevant documents.

The core principle of the Court is the prioritisation of the safety of children, vulnerable parties and litigants, as well as early and ongoing identification and appropriate handling of issues of risk.

The goal is to resolve matters within 12 months, where possible and to empower litigants to take ownership and take part in resolving their own matters.

If you have any questions about Family Law, your first step should be to contact our office to arrange a free consultation. You can contact us by by phone or our 'Ask a Question' tool on our website.