What are the changes?
In May 2018 the Attorney General Christian Porter announced changes to the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court. These changes are scheduled to occur in early 2019 and would see the two systems combined into one in an attempt to reduce the lengthy wait times for family law matters to progress to trial. The intention of the changes is to eliminate the number of matters which are transferred between the two systems and improve overall efficiency.
Will this affect my family law matter?
Western Australia is the only state which did not refer their powers to legislate for de-facto relationships. As such, we are the only State with our own Family Court. In Western Australia, all matters are commenced in the Family Court of Western Australia which is a division of the Magistrate's Court.
In all other states there is a parallel system of the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia. The Family Court of Australia is responsible for hearing complex matters including those involving complex financial structures, family violence or allegations of child abuse. The Federal Circuit deals with the balance of the matters.
Because of this, these changes will have minimal impact in Western Australia. It will however impact the process for appeals.
Will it be adopted in Western Australia?
Earlier this year reforms were introduced into the State Parliament for a limited referral of powers to allow de-facto couples to split superannuation (see our article Superannuation Splitting and Family Law).There may be further changes to our system after the completion of the review into the Australian Family Law system which is set to follow in March 2019.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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