01 Nov A New Family Law Court
The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia
From 1 September 2021 the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia merged into a new amalgamated court now known as the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (“FCFCOA”).
The Family Law jurisdiction
The FCFCOA will be a new structure that is modern, fair and focuses on risk, responsiveness and earlier resolution, 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
• Aiming to resolve up to 90% of cases within 12 months.
Why did the two Courts Merge?
The merger is aimed to establish a unified set of court rules, practices and procedures in an endeavour to deliver justice more effectively, efficiently and inexpensively. Multiple aspects of the new Court system aim to accelerate processes for litigants and bring about a swift and inexpensive resolution to each matter.
How will the Court Operate?
The new FCFCOA consists of two divisions:-
• Division 1: will only deal with complex Family Law matters and appeals; and
• Division 2: is the single entry point for all Family Law matters
All cases filed in the FCFCOA will be commenced in Division 2 of the Court, with any complex cases or Appeals to be transferred and heard in Division 1.
The way that family law matters will progress through the Court has changed. In the general course, matters filed in the new Court will follow a nationally consistent case management pathway, outlined in the following diagram.
Prior to commencing proceedings, parties are required to:
- comply with the pre-action procedures for both parenting and financial matters contained in Schedule 1 of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021 (Cth) (Family Law Rules) and section 60I of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (Family Law Act); and
- take genuine steps to attempt to resolve their issues prior to commencing proceedings, unless it is unsafe to do so or a relevant exemption applies. A Genuine Steps Certificate in the approved form must be filed with an Initiating Application or Response to Initiating Application.
Failure to comply with the relevant pre-action procedures may result in the application being adjourned or stayed until the failure to comply is rectified.
The new Court system also focuses on ensuring that the appropriate evidence is ready at each stage of the matter, to avoid matters being relisted multiple times due to noncompliance or relevant experts and documents being unavailable.
A national “Contravention List” is created to address the expectation that all parties to Court Orders must comply with those Orders, and that all alleged breaches will be taken seriously and dealt with quickly.
Navigating the Family Law system can be incredibly challenging at the best of times so it is essential, if you are experiencing any family law issues yourself, that you seek experienced legal advice to assist you in navigating these challenges as the family law landscape undergoes significant change.
Our dedicated Family Law solicitors are ready, willing and able to assist you with your family law concerns. If you would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced solicitors on (02) 8525 2700, our website or head to: Solari and St0ck-Get Started online