Structural reform of the federal courts
On 5 December 2019, the Australian Government introduced legislation to reform the federal family law courts.
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). The FCFC will comprise two divisions: the FCFC (Division 1) will be a continuation of the Family Court, and the FCFC (Division 2) will 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.
The reforms are an important step to help Australian families navigate the federal family law courts during very stressful periods in their lives. They will establish a single point of entry for federal family law matters, ensure the development of common Rules of Court, forms and practices and procedures, enhance judicial appointment criteria, and streamline the family law appeals pathway.
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
- Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Bill 2019
- Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2019
The evidence base for the reforms
- Review of efficiency of the operation of the federal courts by PwC - Final report
- High Level Financial Analysis of Court Reform Initiatives by EY – Final report
- Review of the performance and funding of the Federal Court of Australia, the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia by KPMG – Final report
- Future Governance Options for Federal Family Law Courts in Australia: Striking the Right Balance by Des Semple
- A better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence – December 2017 report from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs
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.