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The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

Updated on Jan 11, 2023 3 min read 259 views Copy Link

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Published in Jan 09, 2023 Updated on Jan 11, 2023 3 min read 259 views

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

In 2021, the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia merged into a single court: the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA). There were widespread concerns about the old family law system, including the cost of running family law matters, the length of time it took for matters to finalise, and how the system dealt with children and victims of family violence. The FCFCA was established on 1 September 2021 in the hope of addressing these concerns and providing a more accessible and expedient family law system.

FCFCA has a single entry point for family law matters

The establishment of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA) meant that the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia, which used to operate separately but with overlapping jurisdictions, are now combined into a single court. A Family Law Appeal Division of the Federal Court of Australia has also been established.

Under the new system, there is a single entry point for all family law matters. The FCFCA prioritises urgent and high-risk family law matters and cases are appointed to the judge and division with the most relevant expertise. Parties to family law matters now have certainty about the likely costs and time required for the matter to be finalised.

The FCFCA has two Divisions

Division 1 deals with complex family law matters and appeals. Division 2 is the entry point for all family law matters except for family law appeals.

Complex matters can be sent to Division 1 by the Chief Justice.

Why was the family law system changed?

The federal government stated that the changes to the family law system were made to address problems with the system, including delays, inconsistencies, confusion and unnecessary costs. The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia aims to be more efficient, consistent and accessible, and to allow families to resolve family law disputes more quickly and cheaply.

Prior to 2018, the family law system had not been reviewed since the Family Court was established in 1976. The system was often criticised as outdated and impractical and for failing to keep up to date with changes in relationship norms and in the way families operate. It took almost a year and a half for a matter to reach trial under the old system, meaning significant changes could happen in children’s lives while proceedings were on foot. The slow processes meant that children who were the subjects of parenting applications often had to live with uncertainty about their future care arrangements for long periods.

The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court used to operate parallel, with different rules, forms and filing fees. A lot of parties to family law proceedings have always represented themselves and under the old system, those parties had to navigate the parallel courts without a lawyer, and this often led to confusion.

FCFCA legislation

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia administers and is governed by the following legislation when dealing with family law matters:

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

Published in

Jan 09, 2023

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Content Editor

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Content Editor

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.

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