On the 30th of May 2018 The Attorney-General announced a proposal which would ultimately restructure the family law courts. The proposal would see an amalgamation of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia. This new court would be known as the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
What is the Attorney General’s Family Court restructure proposal?
- There will be two divisions of the court:
Division 1: This will essentially be the Family Court.
Division 2: This will essentially be the Federal Circuit Court which hears both family law and general law matters.
- The new proposal does not provide for further judicial officers to be appointed.
This means there will be the same number of cases and judges to hear the cases, but rather than having two courts there will be one.
- The appeal division of the family court will be abolished and replaced by a family law appeal division of the Federal Court of Australia.
This new appeals division will hear the majority of the family law appeals. It is unclear at this stage whether new judges will be appointed for this new division of the Federal Court.
If that is the case, it is a concern that the Attorney General has not clarified whether any new judicial officers who are appointed in the family law appeal division of the Federal Court will have family law experience.
- There will be one set of rules and forms for the new court.
This is a positive, as it will reduce the confusion between users of the courts in respect to what rules and forms they are required to use.
The proposed changes, once the new court is in place, are said to provide one point of entry for all family law matters into the family law court system and is expected to approve efficiency.
Read more about the changes to the family law system.