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Family Court Reform

Family Court Reform

By Callum Argaet

21st July 2021

In February 2021, Parliament passed legislation to merge the Family Court with the Federal Circuit Court to form a new Court, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFC).

The merged Court will commence from 1 September 2021.

What is Changing?

The FCFC will become the single-entry point for all family law matters whereas, under the current system, all matters commence in the Federal Circuit Court unless deemed appropriate to transfer to the Family Court.

The FCFC will have a single set of Court forms and administrative rules for the Court’s function and procedures.

The creation of the FCFC will have two divisions within the Court system:

  • FCFC Division 1, which is essentially the current Family Court; and
  • FCFC Division 2, being the current Federal Circuit Court.

Division 1 of the FCFC will deal with family law matters exclusively.

Division 2 of the FCFC will hear family law matters as well as other federal law matters, such as Workplace Law, Bankruptcy, Consumer Law, and Intellectual Property.

What does it mean for new matters?

All family law matters will commence in the FCFC Division 2. Once filed, a Judge or Registrar will commence the case management process to prioritise matters, set down certain court events and allocate the matter to the most appropriate FCFC division.

The newly merged Court is designed to streamline the process for family law matters to proceed to resolution.

What does it mean for current matters?

The Attorney-General’s Department has announced that as part of the Court merger, transitional arrangements will be put in place for proceedings before the Court when the reforms commence. What this means is that the Court will ensure that all existing matters will be dealt with as efficiently as possible so there is no disruption to current proceedings due to the Court merger.

More information about the Court merger can be found here.

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