Federal Circuit Court or Family Court of Australia, what’s the difference?

Both the Federal Circuit Court (“FCC”) and the Family Court of Australia (“FCoA”) hear family law cases.

The objective of the FCC was to create a more accessible alternative to and relieve the workload of the FCoA and for many years the FCC has been known for hearing less complex family law matters.

The FCoA, Australia’s superior court in family law, was to determine cases with complex facts, covering specialised areas such as but not limited to; serious allegations of sexual or physical abuse of a child, serious allegations of family violence, international relocation and/or complex questions of jurisdiction or law.

Both Court have had different rules and procedures.

As of 1 September 2021, the FCC and FCoA will be merging and will be known as the Federal Circuit Family Court of Australia (“FCFCOA”).

With the new court will comes new rules, new Practice Directions and new procedures.

Things that will be changing:

  1. There will be two (2) divisions in the FCFCOA being:
    • Division 1: which will deal with more complex matters and exercise the appellate jurisdiction; and
      • Appeals will be heard in Division 1.
    • Division 2: which will consist of judges from the FCC and will be the primary entry point for family law and child support cases.
      • All initiating applications for parenting and/or property will be filed in Division 2.
    • Introduction of 14 new practice directions which will set out the guidelines for the management of family law proceedings in the Court;
    • Section 11F reports or Child Dispute/Inclusive Conferences will be known as “Child Impact Reports” which are designed to help the parties to reach agreements as to parenting matters and provide expert guidance for parenting hearings;
    • Together with the new rules, there will be new Court forms to ensure harmony in the FCFCOA and improve functionality and usability with a 90-day transitional period;
    • Application in a Case will be known as “Application in a Proceeding”;
    • The implementation of a ‘National Contravention List’ to ensure that any alleged breach of Court Orders are dealt with quickly;
    • Registrars and Senior Registrars will now be known as ‘Judicial Registrars’ or ‘Senior Judicial Registrars’;
    • Family Consultants will be known as ‘Court Child Experts’ and Child Dispute Services will be known as ‘Court Children’s Services’; and
    • Introduction of pre-action procedures for both Division 1 and 2 with the implementation of a “Genuine Steps Certificate” certifying that the parties have complied with pre-action procedural and made a genuine attempt to resolve the dispute. This Certificate will be in addition to the Section 60I certificate in relation to parenting Orders.

For parties working through their parenting and/or property matters following their separation there be will no direct impact upon matters currently proceeding through the Family Court system.

If you have any further questions or would like to speak with one of our team members about your matter please do not hesitate to contact our offices on 02 4324 5688 or send us an online enquiry

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