Merging of the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court
On 30 May 2018, the Government proposed to restructure the existing structure of the Federal Court of Australia. This will have the effect of merging the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA) as of 1 January 2019. Resulting from this merge, a new Family Law Appeal Division will be created to specifically hear appeals from family matters of the new court structure. The new structure intends to create a uniform structure for dealing with family law matters.
How does this affect you?
Although the exact legislative nature and effect of the proposed restructuring is unknown, the preliminary Government announcements have indicated the new FCFCA will have three distinct benefits to the parties: –
- Uniform rules and forms;
- A new appeal division for family law matters; and
- Single lineated court structure.
In regard to the first benefit, the implementation of uniform rules and forms drastically improves the current regime. In creating a single point entry to court proceedings, the parties will have their matter in one jurisdiction, allowing for persons to navigate the system more easily, and, ensure documents/forms are filed in accordance with one set of rules.
Additionally, the creation of a new family appeal division will allow parties to easily dispute a sentence. Under the current regime, there has been a significant backlog of matters in the court, meaning parties are required to wait for extended periods of time before their matters are heard before court. The new proposals intend to reduce this backlog of matters, allowing parties to finalise matters effectively, and, seek to appeal orders quickly.
The final benefit to the parties simply comes from the intended structure of the new FCFCA. As court litigation between parties often falls within a significantly confusing and difficult time in the person’s life, this confusion is not assisted by party matters spanning different courts in multiple jurisdictions. To alleviate this confusion, the proposed structure provides a distinct structure encompassing all matters regardless of jurisdiction.
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