Explainer: Merger of the family law courts and what this means for you
February 22, 2021 /

The government’s bill to merge the Family Court with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia has now passed, so what does this mean for people needing to go to court for a family law matter?

There has been a lot of talk about “abolishing the family court” and “merging” of the family law Courts. It is now going to become a reality with the passing through the Senate on 17th February 2021 of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Bill 2019 and Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2019.

What’s going to happen?

Currently, most family law matters already start in the Federal Circuit Court. The Federal Circuit Court deals with family law matters as well as other areas of federal law too. If a matter is complex, then it would be started or transferred up to the Family Court, where appeals of family law decisions are heard.

The new Court will bring both Courts under one name.

Soon, there will be a new Court called “The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia”(or “FCFC”). The current Family Court will become “Division 1” of this new Court and the Federal Circuit Court will be “Division 2” of this Court.  

How is this different?  

In practice, it won’t change your experience of Court much. Under the new “FCFC” –

  • All matters will start in the Federal Circuit Court, or “Division 2” of the new Court. This level will still be able to deal with family law and child support as well as other federal law areas so this remains the same for most litigants;
  • There are likely to be some changes to procedures, such as a new set of Court forms; and
  • the Judge you appear before will probably be the same.

These are just a few examples. The legislation contains other procedural changes.

Need Help?

If you need assistance with a family law matter, please don’t hesitate to contact our specialist family law team to book a free 30 minute consultation on 5576 9999.