Whilst the majority of the legal profession was and remains staunchly opposed to the merger of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, the reality is that it will be upon us soon and we must adjust to the new systems in place. It is important also that our clients know the changes that are soon to occur in the system that they may be litigating in, or considering entering.
- The Court will now be known as The Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia.
- The new Court will commence operation on 1 September 2021.
- There will only be one Court, but there will be two divisions of that Court. What is currently known as the Family Court of Australia, will become the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia (Division 1). The Federal Circuit Court of Australia will become the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia (Division 2).
- All proceedings will be commenced in Division 2. All appeals will be filed in Division 1.
- Division 2 will also hear general federal law matters as well as Family law.
- Whilst all Appeals will be heard in Division 1, the Chief Justice can also direct that a matter be transferred from Division 2 to Division 1 in particular circumstances.
- There is no appeal from the decision of the Chief Justice to transfer or refuse to transfer a matter from Division 2 to Division 1.
- There will be new Rules of Court to abide by.
- The Federal Government has indicated that there will be 35 specialist Judges in Division 1 and 43 in Division 2 (nationwide).
- There is a diversity of view on whether or not this new system will be better than our current one. Most of us agree that the new court won’t be better unless the Government provides it with more resources.
To a greater or lesser extent, we are very much in wait and see mode. Watch this space.