April 24, 2023

The combining of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia has been a hot topic discussed in the family law arena for some time.

Earlier this year legislation was passed which has resulted in the amalgamation of these two Courts. On 1 September 2021, the new ‘Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia’ will officially be in action.

The question which has been tossed around is what this will change.

The theory behind this new Court is to change to focus on changing the way family law litigation is conducted to try and reduce the stress, expense and delay which litigants face as a result of lengthy family law proceedings.

Whilst there has always been an underlying emphasis placed on encouraging parties to settle their disputes earlier, the idea of this new Court is to put an even greater emphasis on early resolution.

As family law practitioners, we are looking forward to having one harmonised set of rules, forms and case management processes. However, we are also excited to see if the existence of this new Court will allow for a simplified procedures to allow those clients who require the Court’s intervention to have their matters dealt with quickly, efficiently and with as little impact on the families and their children as possible.

This new Court has also established a National Compliance List which will focus on compliance with court orders. We will also see the skills of Senior Registrars, Registrars and Family Consultants utilised early in proceedings by way of duty lists and interim hearing. This will hopefully see the burden on Judges lifted and matters being listed for hearing and judgments handed down sooner than expected.

After years of the lobbying by the general public and legal professionals alike, we hope that the establishment of this new Court will bring much needed change to the family law system.