30 May 2018

New single family court a big step forward in delivering much needed family law reform

Families, including those in the Corangamite electorate, will benefit from the Turnbull Government’s reforms to the handling of family law matters in the federal court system.

A single new Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA) will be established from 1 January, 2019 through the amalgamation of the existing Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia.

A new Family Law Appeal Division in the Federal Court of Australia will also be established to hear all appeals in family law matters from the newly created FCFCA.

Sarah Henderson, Federal Member for Corangamite said: “This single new court will help Australian families, including those in Corangamite, resolve their disputes faster by improving the efficiency of the existing split family law system; reducing the backlog of matters before the family law courts; and, and driving faster, cheaper and more consistent dispute resolution.

“Our community, like all others around Australia includes families who experience one of the most traumatic periods of peoples’ lives – the breakdown of a relationship.”

“These reforms are focused on ensuring that the legal systems we have in place to help families deal with relationship breakdown do not in themselves exacerbate the trauma by contributing to delays and unreasonable expense in resolving matters, particularly issues around children.”

“The new FCFCA will have one single point of entry for all federal family law matters to provide a consistent pathway for Australian families needing to have their family law disputes dealt with by court proceedings. Families will have one new court with one set of new rules, procedures and practices designed to ensure that their disputes will be dealt with by the FCFCA in the most timely, informed and cost effective manner possible.”

“It’s estimated that these reforms will improve the efficiency of the federal family law system by up to a third, with the potential in time to allow up to an extra 8,000 cases to be resolved each and every year,” Ms Henderson said

Ms Henderson also stated that she was delighted that today’s announcement reflected many of the concerns raised by the parliamentary inquiry into family violence law reform which she chaired.  The report into A better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence was tabled in the Parliament on 7 December 2017 and stated, in part:

3.85 In light of overwhelming evidence received highlighting the complexity of navigating multiple jurisdictions, and multiple courts within the same jurisdiction, the Committee considers that the system of the two federal courts with concurrent jurisdiction should be simplified. While the Committee did not receive sufficient evidence to support a specific recommendation at this stage, this matter is worthy of further investigation. The ALRC, as part of its current review, might consider the benefits of combining the federal family courts into one court. This single court might provide more opportunity for appropriate triaging and case management upon filing, which could be more responsive to the needs of families who are affected by family violence.”

Further information about the reforms is available at: www.ag.gov.au