The Government proposes to establish a new “Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia” (FCFCA). The new Court will be established through the amalgamation of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. A new Family Law Appeal Division of the Federal Court of Australia will also be created to hear appeals in family law matters from the FCFCA and the Family Court of Western Australia. Subject to the passage of legislation, it is proposed that the FCFCA and the Family Law Appeal Division will commence operation on 1 January 2019.

There will be a single point of entry for federal family law matters, through the FCFCA. There will also be one Chief Justice supported by one Deputy Chief Justice of the FCFCA. The FCFCA will be divided into two divisions, with Division 1 comprising the existing judges of the Family Court, and Division 2 comprising the existing judges of the Federal Circuit Court. The Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice will each hold a dual commission to both Divisions 1 and 2 of the FCFCA. The Appeal Division of the Family Court will not be retained.

The Family Law Section will seek clarification from the Attorney General’s department, the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit of Australia of the finer details of the proposals announced today, and will consider the proposed legislation, once it is released. We will provide members with further updates over the coming weeks and months.

Click here for here for fact sheet one and click here for here for fact sheet two issued by the Attorney-General’s Department:

  1.  Fact Sheet 1 provides an overview of reforms, and
  2.  Fact Sheet 2 provides facts and figures to support the changes.

In summary, the changes mean the Court will have a single federal point of entry for all Australian family law matters.  This already occurs in the jurisdiction of the Family Court of Western Australia.  Urgent and high risk cases will continue to be prioritised, and each case will be allocated at the earliest possible point to the relevant judge and division with the right expertise and capacity.

Justin Dorney – HOLDEN BARLOW FAMILY LAWYERS PERTH