Why is there a new Family Court and what will it achieve?
Commencement of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia
On 1 September 2021 the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) came into being through the amalgamation of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. With it came new forms, new rules and a new case management system.
The FCFCOA contains two divisions; Division 1 (a continuation of the Family Court) and Division 2 (a continuation of the Federal Circuit Court). This means that for family law litigants, there is a centralised point of entry and a single set of court rules and forms. Using a nationally homogenous case management approach, Judicial Registrars will assess matters for risk and aim to bring litigation times down by streamlining the process. An important aim of the new system is the early identification of risk for vulnerable parties and children.
Dispute Resolution is at the heart of this system and is incorporated throughout the court process. The goal is to reduce the stresses associated with litigation by reducing delays, time spent at court and hence legal costs. The Chief Justice and Chief Judge of the FCFCOA , the Hon William Alstergren states: “This includes going to mediation within five months, wherever possible, and starting a trial, if there has to be one, within 12 months”.
Litigants are encouraged to settle their differences and an obligation is placed on them to make a genuine attempt to resolve the dispute. The goal is to minimise emotional and economic hardship. With that in mind, there is earlier and greater involvement from Judicial Registrars in an attempt to reduce lengthy and costly trials before a Judge.
Moreover, the new and innovative systems that were deployed during the COVID pandemic are being embraced by the FCFCOA, allowing for electronic hearings and the use of technology to improve the process. This has the benefit of providing better access to justice for those living remotely and greater safety measures for vulnerable parties.
In other words, each court case could involve a mix of in-person court events and electronic hearings, by telephone or video.
The New Website
This new modern court has a new, improved and easy to navigate website. Information and resources on the three key areas, ‘family law’, ‘migration law’ or ‘general federal law’ is readily available on the new, user-friendly website.
Access the website here.
Our family law team at McLaughlins on the Gold Coast includes Director Sophie Pearson, practising exclusively in family law since 1999 and a practising Collaborative Lawyer since 2006, Associate Director Joelene Nel who is also a qualified Mediator and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner and Collaborative Lawyer and Allison Masal who has been a para-legal working in family law for in excess of 15 years. Rebecca Baird is the newest staff member to the family law team, Rebecca draws on her extensive life experiences to creatively approach legal matters.
We invite you to click on the links to our bios and get in touch with us on (07) 5591 5099 for any legal needs.
McLaughlins Lawyers, your experienced Gold Coast lawyers, we stand beside you and are here to help you navigate your separation and family law needs.
Author: Rebecca Baird
Director: Sophie Pearson
Date: 7 October 2021