Those currently embroiled in family law processes will be aware that effective 1 September this year, major changes were introduced to Australia’s complex family law system. These changes had to happen; the long delays of up to 2 and even 3 years to get a disputed matter heard by the court have been causing untold emotional and financial damage to families for far too long, and a major overhaul was absolutely necessary.
A lot of media attention has been on the fact of the merger of the family court and the family law division of the federal circuit court to create the “Federal Circuit and Family Court” so as to simplify processes into one system for all. Behind this change however is the more important focus on early resolution of matters, and shorter waiting periods to be allocated a judge to hear the case in the event that settlement cannot be reached through mediation.
One change that our family lawyers are seeing immediately is that judicial registrars have enhanced powers in the early case management of matters, and there are more stringent requirements for parties to have their information ready and to comply with “pre-action procedures”. Parties are strongly directed towards dispute resolution processes.
The practical effect of all of this is that our family lawyers are finding that there is a lot more substantial work to be done at the commencement of the matter, especially in relation to ensuring full and proper financial disclosure from the outset, so that a property settlement is more likely to be achieved early. Although initial costs may be a little more than previously, there is a far higher chance of early resolution, resulting in genuine costs savings overall.
These changes provide a helpful reminder that family law is not an area for dabbling in. If you have a family law dispute, you really do need to be represented by lawyers whose sole focus and deep expertise is in the area of family law. In this regard, clients can be assured that Anita Vayanos and Louise Cassar are passionate family lawyers, ready to stand with you in your time of need. Please give Anita or Louise a call if you want to talk confidentially about your personal circumstances.