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The current structure of the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit court of Australia have led to systematic backlogs of cases, with Judges required to hear a multitude of matters on a single day. This has led many parties who have proceedings before the Court to be frustrated, and rightly so.
The planned merging of the Family Court of Australia (FCA) and Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCCA) has been a government objective since early 2018. However, this Bill was contingent upon the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Report (released on 15 April 2019). With time pressures of whether the bill, in an amended form, would be heard before the sitting Parliament prior to the next Federal election, the Committee released the report some two months early.
The report reflects the majority of the Committee recommending that the bill which would merge the FCA and FCCA be passed by the senate, subject to several amendments. These provisions include:
These recommendations, whilst not extensive, do promote signs of positive movement towards qualified judges hearing more cases and clearly the inundated queues of parties waiting for their cases to be heard.
Although the issues surrounding the merging of the FCA and the FCCA are far from finalised, the Committee’s report should give individuals with family law proceedings hope that their matter may be finalised sooner than expected.
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