A backlog of cases, gross delays and duplicated processes result in Australian families being forced to wait longer and pay more. Unjust verdicts, complexities being overly simplified and families becoming estranged are further consequences of the family law court system.
How did this occur and what is being done to correct the existing problems in the family law courts?
Before addressing these issues, it’s important to better understand how the current system is structured.
Australian Family Law courts and the way they operate
There are currently 2 different courts that handle family law matters. They are:
- The FCA, Family Court of Australia
- The FCC, Federal Circuit Court
Presently the Family Court of Australia hears complex parenting matters such as those involving allegations of sexual abuse, family violence, substance abuse, mental health and safety concerns for parties and/or their children. The FCC can deal with substance abuse, mental health etc and usually does unless the hearing it is likely to be more than approximately 3 days. Additionally, the court also deals with appeals.
The Federal Circuit Court deals with less complicated family matters, such as applications for divorce. For example, when a couple is seeking to dissolve their marriage, the FCC is the court that hears their case.