In September 2019, the Federal Government announced the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into the Family Law system.
The review intended to look at how the Family Law system could be improved and provided for Parliament to hear directly from families about how the current system had impacted their lives.
At the time, the Government had already proposed a merger of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court.
In March 2021, the Committee tabled its second interim report setting out the committee’s views and 29 recommendations, including the following:
- Increase in funding to Legal Aid Commissions and Community Legal Centres to enable those services to boost their support for disadvantaged and vulnerable families within the family law system.
- Additional Registrars and support staff to be appointed to assist the Family court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia to address backlogs and delays.
- A greater focus on mediation and arbitration.
- Recommendations to address the current misunderstanding regarding the provision of ‘equal shared parental responsibility’.
- Regulation of legal fees in family law proceedings.
The list above, while not exhaustive, highlights the key areas of concern upon which the Committee were drawn including “extensive delays, excessive legal costs, the difficulty of enforcing court orders and the timely and fair resolution of family violence allegations” in family law matters.
At Atkinson Vinden our Family Law team joins the Law Council of Australia in supporting a number of the recommendations proposed by the Committee. We are continuing to analyse the Report’s recommendations and what impact the recommendations may have on our family law clients and their families.
We believe that the proposed recommendations emphasise a directive to keep matters outside of the Court system.
Prior to the announcement of the recommendations, the Atkinson Vinden Family Law team embraced a conciliatory approach to resolving family law disputes rather than advocating Court based solutions. Whilst this approach is not always possible, we nevertheless remain well placed to represent our family law clients’ interests in a changing legal environment.