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Changes to the Federal Circuit Court & Family Court
The Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia are merging from 1 September 2021 and will be known as the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
There are a number of important changes which are accompanying this merger. More than $100 million has been provided by the Federal Government to support these changes which has resulted in the staff of the court being expanded and the new court having 90 specialist family law judges in total which is the most judges ever appointed. The court has identified that it is aiming to focus on “risk, responsiveness and resolution”. The court is anticipating it will be able to deliver on these aims by:-
- Improving early risk identification and safety of children and vulnerable parties;
- Encouraging smarter ways to separate with less acrimony, less cost and more dispute resolution, where it is safe to do so;
- Expecting compliance with court orders;
- Enhancing national access to justice for vulnerable parties and regional communities through the use of technology; and
- Resolving up to 90 per cent of cases within 12 months, where possible.
There are a significant number of changes to the court which will accompany these changes including:-
- New Case Management pathways – the aim is to ensure the first court event will happen within 6-8 weeks of filing, for the matter to be at mediation and trying to resolve the dispute within 5-6 months and then aiming to be at trial within 12 months;
- Harmonised rules and entry point between both courts – for the first time in 21 years;
- 14 new Family Law Practice Directions;
- The establishment of a National Contravention List to ensure better compliance with orders;
- Changes in the roles performed by staff employed by the court including Registrars and Family Consultants – ensuring their early involvement in all court cases to try and get matters progressing sooner;
- New forms;
- A new court website – www.fcfcoa.gov.au
More information about these changes will be provided in the weeks ahead. In the meantime if you are in need of assistance or advice please do not hesitate to contact our office.