There has been almost a year of failed proposals for a restructured family law system in Australia, ultimately because the Senate failed to pass the federal government’s enabling legislation. The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has released its report that recommends amongst other things the creation of specialist state based courts that would deal with family law disputes, domestic violence and intervention orders, and child protection issues.
These courts would still exercise federal jurisdiction under the Family Law Act in a similar manner to the Family Court of Western Australia. The Family Court of WA receives funding from the federal government.
It is said that a new state based court of this kind would enable state judges to exercise jurisdiction under the Family Law Act 1975, a Commonwealth Act, and each state’s domestic violence and child protection legislation.
It has been reported that in 2015, approximately 12,000 Victoria Legal Aid clients moved between the federal family court system and the state courts. The apparent reason for this was that federal courts cannot deal with state based domestic violence and child protection legislation.
Under the ALRC proposal, this defect in the family law system would be remedied.
In addition, many family law litigants experience long delays waiting for trial dates. Perhaps this proposal might lessen these delays.