Yesterday, 30 May 2018 the Attorney – General Christian Porter announced the Federal Government’s intention to implement, what in our view is a significant structural change to the current Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia.
The proposed change will amalgamate the two existing courts that deal with family law matters into one court; a new Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (“FCFCA”). It is anticipated that the new court will commence operating on 1 January 2019.
The current court structure and overlapping family law jurisdiction between the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court leads to significant inefficiencies, confusion, delays, additional costs and unequal experiences for many families. This results in poor outcomes for some children and families. The reforms are designed to hopefully address these inefficiencies. The establishment of a single new court will create a consistent pathway for Australian families in having their family law disputes dealt with in the first instance. The reforms are designed to maximise the use of highly skilled and trained judicial officers, and court resources, to significantly improve access to justice for Australian families; improve the efficiency of the family law system; reduce the backlog of matters in the family law courts; and drive faster, cheaper and more consistent resolution of disputes for Australian families.
The legal profession are eagerly awaiting the release of the legislation that will bring about this change and whether the new system will in fact deliver efficiency, improved access to justice; including cheaper and more consistent outcomes for children and families remains to be seen.