Does It Really Offer More?
The Attorney-General’s department has been quick to address these critics. Deputy secretary Iain Anderson said that the merger would result in “more” specialisation in domestic violence and family law. He also clarified that the merger isn’t there to abolish Family Court or even decrease its specialisation.
Anderson cleared that the merger will not increase the risks of family violence victims or vulnerable people; instead, it will enhance protections available to them by bringing together the courts and their practices.
The Truth About The Family Court In Australia
It is also made clear that most of the matters under family law are resolved in the lower-level of Federal Circuit Court, and not the Family Court. In fact, the Family Court only hears about 11% of federal family law disputes, while the Federal Circuit Court hears around 89%.
The Family Court also deals more with matters that involve property, rather than cases that involve children. In this situation, the specialist expertise is about the property, not really about children.
It’s Still A “No” For Many
Over 60 legal organisations, such as the Women’s Legal Services Australia, the Law Council, and the Community Legal Centres Australia were notably against the merger. This was mainly because they believed that the merger could place victims of family violence at a greater risk of exposure. One of the main objections to the merger is the safety of these victims that require a specialist forum to deal with family law matters that involve family violence.
Moreover, many people believe that the merger was only presented to be an expansion of the generalist Federal Circuit Court to abolish the more specialist Family Court. As a result, it will suffer a loss of specialisation that will impact vulnerable families. This is because the Federal Circuit Court is already Australia’s busiest court and is struggling due to the lack of resources and funds that hinders them to fully manage less complex family matters.
Furthermore, the global pandemic already has put lots of pressure on the Federal Circuit Court, in which they are already facing a significant amount of backlogs of family law cases. However, despite what the Federal Government says about the merger, it is still clear for many people that the merger will not improve the safety of family violence victims.
With so many things that are happening all over the world, particularly the global pandemic that has put more pressure on courts and government departments, the fate of the family merger law remains unknown. As a result, some of the legal organisations that are against the merger continue to oppose the merger and share their sentiments about the load of the Federal Circuit Court.
Ultimately, the future of the merger remains bleak, and it looks like it’s not going to come to a final resolution just yet as some parts of the country are facing a second wave of the virus.
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