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The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

From 1 September 2021 significant changes to the Australian family law system came into effect. All family law proceedings are now determined in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (also referred to as ‘the FCFCOA’), a new Court which amalgamated the previous Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

The FCFCOA was created to harmonise the governing family law and implement a new case management pathway with the intention of reducing delays in the Court system and improving early identification of risks (such as family violence).

The governing rules emphasise the need for parties to attempt to resolve matters prior to instituting proceedings, by participating in alternate dispute resolution, such as mediation, wherever possible. This is encompassed in the pre-action procedures which specify that appropriate dispute resolution services should be utilised by separated parties and failing resolution or engagement – then notice must be given to the other party prior to filing an Initiating Application.

Generally, all matters now follow the same pathway once Court proceedings are commenced – the intention is to reduce unnecessary costs and delays, and to ensure the safety of and minimise harm to parents and children. Since the commencement of the FCFCOA, there has been an increased focus by the Court to achieve its overarching purpose – namely the just resolution of disputes according to law and as quickly, inexpensively, and efficiently as possible.

While we encourage the genuine attempt by clients to resolve matters without going to Court, in some cases it is necessary, and our family law Department can provide you with advice about how you can appropriately comply with the Court’s pre-action procedures, such as attending mediation. If Court proceedings are required, we can assist you to appropriately prepare for commencing Court proceedings and then represent you before the Court. Please see our general information regarding parenting and property matters and contact us on (02) 6933 6900 or through the free legal clinic enquiry form to arrange an initial appointment.