Tindall Gask Bentley Lawyers welcomes the review of Australia’s family law system in the hope it will ease the pressure on families going through separation.
The review, announced this morning by federal Attorney-General George Brandis, promises to focus on how the Family Law Act can better serve the changing needs and diversity of Australian families, protect those most at risk and ensure that children’s best interests are paramount.
The review will also assess the need for greater efficiency, clarity and cost-effectiveness for families in the Family Court system, with an emphasis on early dispute resolution. You can read the full terms of reference here.
In 2015-16 more than 80,000 family law applications were made to the Federal Circuit Court, and more than 20,000 applications were made to the Federal Court. About 50,000 divorces are granted each year. Too few judges in the family law system has been noted as an enormous contributor to a backlog that means some people wait up to three years for their case to get to trial.
These are the numbers that prompted Chief Justice of the Family Court Diana Bryant, earlier this year, to remark: “I feel as though the Government doesn’t understand the effect this is having on families.”
TGB managing partner Morry Bailes agreed the system was buckling under the workload and complexity of matters.
“As a national provider of family law services, our people work at the coalface of Australia’s family law system. We see first-hand the impact on families,” Mr Bailes said.
“The chronic lack of government funding for the Family Law courts means families can sometimes wait years for a decision that impacts their future so greatly. This only adds to the distress many are already experiencing.
“It is heartening to see the terms of reference reflect what we, as a firm, encourage all of our family law clients to do: move swiftly to reach early agreement on their matter and channel their time and energy into moving forward and ensuring the health and safety of their children.”