Currently there are two courts where Family Law matters are heard, the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court.
What is proposed?
Family law matters are generally issued in the Federal Circuit Court unless the matter is considered “complex”. The Federal Circuit Court may order a matter to be transferred to the Family Court on the basis of complexity.
The federal Attorney-General, Christian Porter, expects to improve the efficiency of the Family Law court system in Adelaide by ensuring families don’t have to move between the two courts.
Combining the Courts may help to relieve the very heavy load in the Federal Circuit Courts by opening up the Family Court to more hearings.
Why this has come about?
Mr Porter wants to improve the efficiency of the Family Court by creating a single entry point to the system. Around 1200 families a year move between the Family Court and lower level Federal Circuit Court and this can lead to confusion as to where a case should start. This leads to families being transferred between courts. The wait time for a trial in the Adelaide Federal Circuit Court can be between 12-18 months.
Family Court filing fees are far more expensive than the Federal Circuit Court fees. Due to the difference in filing fees most matters are commenced in the Federal Circuit Court.
What next and how it will affect people?
Combining both Courts may help to save time and money for people dealing with Family Law matters while alleviating the strain on Family Law judges. Mr Porter also expects to slash the annual travel expenditure incurred by judges by combining the courts.
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