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 Structural reform of the federal courts

On 30 May 2018, the Attorney-General announced the government's intention to bring forward legislation for structural changes to the federal courts (excluding the High Court of Australia).

Under the legislation, the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia will be brought together as the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFC) in early 2019. The FCFC will comprise two divisions: the FCFC (Division 1) would be a continuation of the Family Court, and the FCFC (Division 2) would be a continuation of the Federal Circuit Court. As such, the FCFC will preserve the current cohort of Judges of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, including their extensive family law and family violence expertise.

A new Family Law Appeal Division in the Federal Court of Australia will also be established to hear all appeals in family law matters from the FCFC and federal family law appeals from the Family Court of Western Australia.

The reforms will help Australian families resolve their disputes faster by improving the efficiency of the family law system, reducing the backlog of matters before the family law courts, and driving faster, cheaper and more consistent dispute resolution.

This announcement does not have any immediate effect on matters currently before the courts. Transitional arrangements will be in place for those matters that are before the courts at the time of the commencement of the reforms to minimise any delay or inconvenience to parties.

Information about the legislation before Parliament

The evidence base for the reforms

If you require a copy of the reports (other than the House of Representatives Report) in an accessible format, contact LSCoord@ag.gov.au for an alternate version.

A number of the reports have been redacted to remove information that would not be in the public interest to disclose. Such information includes material pertaining to matters ordinarily within the purview of the courts, material pertaining to the internal operations of the courts that are not publicly available and comments attributable to particular people.