The average wait time for a matter to be heard before the Family Law Courts in Sydney is about 2 -3 years after filing your application.
That means that if you are separated from your partner your life can be “put on hold” for 2 to 3 years, before you receive final orders about your property and parenting matters. This can place a large strain on your family, as you wait for final orders about your children and uncertain interim parenting orders are put in place while you wait.
This wait can also impact your finances as your assets may be tied up in the proceedings and the legal fees stack up over time.
As it stands, Australia has two Federal Courts that are set up to deal with family law cases, Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court. Each year, there are up to 22,000 cases filed across both courts and the system is falling behind.
Yesterday 2 Judges were moved up from the Federal Circuit Court to the Family Court and 4 new Judges were appointed to the Federal Circuit Court to help deal with this backlog. These Judges are:
Mr Douglas Humphreys
Ms Monica Neville
Ms Anna Boymal
Mr Anthony Dillon Morley
There are also plans for the creation of a new court system for Family Law in Australia. Creatively this will be called the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. The idea behind this is to combine the two courts that currently deal with family law matters in order to streamline the process.
However with a backlog this large and the number of family law cases growing each year it is unlikely for any Australian to receive a speedy final Family Law hearing any time soon.
Although it’s not all doom and gloom as other areas, such as the collaborative family law approach, are on the rise. The collaborative approach enables couples who have decided to separate to work with their lawyers to achieve a settlement that best meets the specific needs of both parties and their children without the underlying threat of going to court.