Understanding Family Law court changes
Recently, the family law landscape underwent a significant change. The two federal Courts that dealt with family law matters – the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia – were merged. On 1 September 2021, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia commenced.
The new Court represents more than a change in name. There are new rules and new processes, with the Court aiming to bring about the just resolution of disputes in a quick, inexpensive and efficient manner.
The cost of Court proceedings, and the financial impact on parties, are under the microscope, along with compliance with the Court’s rules and any orders they make. Parties must comply with the rules. If they fail to do so, they risk their applications being delayed or being responsible for the other party’s costs.
In particular, there is a renewed focus on complying with “pre-action procedures” – steps that generally must be completed before a Court application is made. Those procedures include an obligation on parties to attempt to engage in dispute resolution prior to starting any proceeding and to ensure that all relevant information is exchanged between the parties at the earliest opportunity. There are some exceptions to having to complete these steps, and safety remains a key objective of the Court.
It is important when seeking legal advice that your lawyer understands and can inform you fully about your new obligations and can provide guidance about how best to resolve your dispute in a manner which satisfies the Court’s new requirements.
The family law team at Wightons Lawyers is here to help. We can provide clear advice and valuable information to support you through this process. We invite you to contact one of our family law practitioners, Susan Fridey, Jacinta Learey or Abbey Lane on 5221 8777 for an initial appointment.
You can find out more about the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia at their website – www.fcfcoa.gov.au
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