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The Family Court and The Federal Circuit Court Merger.

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The Attorney-General Christian Porter has announced that the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court will be merging together in 2019 to form a new court; The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA). This is part of a larger review of the Courts’ system and the Government is set to receive a full report from The Australian Law Reform Commission by March 2019 on the matter.

These efforts are designed to alleviate the pressure that the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court is currently under and to speed up the process of settling family disputes. While the number of final hearings scheduled each year has remained fairly static, the duration of the matters has steadily increased. Not only that, but in some cases, matters will have to be transferred between the two Courts due to administrative and jurisdictional conflicts. This requires families to restart their application in a new Court and further delays a resolution.

It is envisaged that with a singular Court, both applications and appeals to the Court should be a more streamlined process. A new division (The Family Law Appeal Division) will also be set up to handle all appeals (both family and general). A merger of the two Courts would appear to some, to be an obvious solution given that their jurisdictions often overlap. However, critics of the merger claim that the merger will not fix the issues within The Family Court and argue that the backlog is caused by funding issues and delays in appointing judges to the bench.

As more information becomes available, we at Sharon Payne Family Lawyers will endeavor to provide further details.

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