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Commercial Employment Law Estate Planning Family General

Family Courts Set for Change

01.09.2021

In what is the most significant and sweeping change in the Family Law system in 21 years, the head of our Family Law team, Lucia Taylor, takes you through the benefits of the amalgamation of the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia.

Most Significant Change to the family court system in 21 years

As of today, 1 September 2021, the newly formed Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia will commence operations with the aim to reduce the impact, stress and expense of long-drawn-out Family Law disputes.

In what has been a long time coming, the amalgamation can only benefit clients and the wider community.

The changes result in a more hands on and responsive Court experience for all. The amalgamation will provide a more streamline and consistent treatment of matters from the very start.

a new process to trial

The new process to trial guides parties through a mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution process to ensure that matters heard before a Judge are of upmost significance and complexity.

It is expected that up to 90% of cases will be resolved within 12 months.

The Court has received $100 million in Commonwealth Government funding to assist in this, appointing the highest number of Family Court Judges since 2007, and the highest number of Federal Circuit Court judges to date. This will further assist in accelerating the parties to final hearing when all other avenues have been exhausted.

On the back of the same funding, the Court has increased resources and carried out extensive recruitment of Senior and Judicial Registrars. These Registrars will have an increased involvement early in the new process, and be provided an increase in judicial powers.

increased measures to identify high risk cases

At Keir Steele Waldon, our excitement also extends to the greater implications the amalgamation will have on protecting parents and children at risk of domestic violence.

The Courts have introduced early identification procedures to identify cases which involve domestic violence, a trend in cases which is unfortunately increasing.

This now streamlines and tailors court procedures to ensure parties and children’s safety are paramount

Lawyers with specific experience in these areas are appointed to assist the parties with a focus on behavioural changes being implemented where appropriate.

Overall, the consistency which the changes will focus the parties on achieving positive outcomes rather than encouraging long and expensive disputes.

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