On 1 September 2021 the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia amalgamated to form one single court called the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA)
The Merger ~ Federal Circuit Court and Family Court
Broadly speaking, the main goals of the merger were to create one single entry point, improve efficiency and reduce cost and delays for families. The new court has two divisions, Division 2 which is a continuation of the old Federal Circuit Court and Division 1 which is a continuation of the old Family Court and is reserved for more complex family law matters.
The proposal to merge the courts received a lot of criticism from stakeholders with fears that the new system would mean that the once specialised court would become more generalised. It was argued that this would negatively impact on vulnerable parties, children and those affected by domestic violence.
Where are we now?
While 6 months in it is still too early to say if the FCFCOA has been successful or not, it is important to note that the new system has a single case management pathway which has revised rules and forms for parties and practitioners. Notably, the new pathway has a greater and prioritised focus on dispute resolution to assist families in achieving settlements outside of court and within 12 months. Despite the appointment of more judges and judicial registrars to case management, this is an ambitious goal when there remains a significant number of matters in the system which were filed pre merger. Until these matters are finalised it is unlikely that we will experience any real change.
We have noticed in our own matters that cases seem to be moving more quickly than they were before and the Registrars in particular are extremely focused on cases being resolved quickly and cheaply. This is a good thing for the small percentage of our clients who in end up in the court system.
If you have any questions about the reformed FCFCOA or would like some advice about your family law matter, get in touch with Capelin Law today by clicking here.