The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia – The new world of Family Law
On 1 September 2021, the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia merged to become a single Court, the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia (“the Court”).
The amalgamated Court is structured into two divisions. Division one will deal exclusively with Family law matters, whilst division two will deal with family law proceedings, migration matters and Federal law proceedings.
There are new, more onerous requirements for parties seeking to commence family law proceedings, together with new case management practices. A new set of harmonised Rules, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021 (Cth) has commenced, and the Court has produced a suite of new Practice Directions to accompany the Rules.
These new procedures strengthen the requirements for parties to participate in Dispute Resolution before commencing Court proceedings and then again during the course of proceedings once issued.
The Central Practice Direction emphasises the Court’s greater focus on compliance with pre-action procedures. Failure to comply with the pre-action procedures can lead to costs consequences in some circumstances, so ensuring you understand your obligations has never been more important.
There are a number of Dispute Resolution avenues that can be explored prior to litigation being required. Dispute Resolution procedures can be utilised to negotiate care arrangements for children following the end of a relationship as well as disputes about dividing assets.
Reviewing the available options against your circumstances will assist you in making timely and cost-effective decisions.
Once proceedings have been filed with the Court, the proceedings will progress along the following pathway:
First Court Event > Interim Hearing (if required) > Dispute Resolution > Compliance & Readiness Hearing > Trial Management Hearing (if required) > Final Hearing (Trial)
Existing Family Law Proceedings
All existing matters listed before the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia are now subject to the new Rules and Practice Directions of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
The online Application for Divorce has changed. If you have commenced a draft Application prior to 1 September 2021, you may now need to start afresh with the new online form.
The Court has also issued the Family Law Practice Direction – Divorce proceedings. This practice direction details step by step the process and requirements of filing an Application for Divorce.
The Court has a new look, updated website with detailed information, including links to short videos providing users with current important information.
The new Court issued Practice Directions are available on the website.
If you require assistance in navigating issues arising from a breakdown of a relationship contact our Family Law team to discuss your requirements.