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What’s happening in Family Law?

7 May 2019

Be careful which news report you read regarding what’s changing in Family Law. There have been many suggested changes put forward over the last year. All the talk culminated last month, in the release of the Law Reform Commission (ALRC) review. Here’s a quick update on the review – and a few other changes.

ALRC recommendations

The Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) final report into the Family Law System was released last month.

This was the first comprehensive view of the family law system since the Family Law Act commenced in 1976.

In announcing the tabling of the report, the ALRC stated that its report “had made 60 recommendations for reform”. This included the (most significant) recommendation, “that the resolution of family law disputes be returned to the States and Territories and that the federal family courts eventually be abolished”. It was noted, “that under the current system, children fall through the gaps between the family law courts, the child protection systems and the State and Territory responses to family violence. This can be remedied only by having a single court focussed on the best interests of the child that is able to resolve all family law, child protection and family violence issues together”.

While the Government had repeatedly said (as part of the merger bills debate) that the ALRC report would not contain recommendations for structural reforms, that did not prove to be the case.

The recommendations address a broad range of issues including how property settlement, superannuation splits, and interim spouse maintenance matters could be better dealt with.

It will be a ‘wait and see’ as to what the next federal government chooses to do with the extensive review recommendations.

Family Court merger off, for now

There has been significant discussion in the media over the last year about a potential merger of the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court. Despite the ALRC having the issue as part of its review for consideration, the federal government proceeded to try and have legislation passed that would achieve this. See our article ‘Has the Family Court changed? Or hasn’t it?‘.

As part of this process a Senate Committee reviewed the legislation, a majority supported it however a vocal minority opposed it.

The result was that with only a couple of parliamentary sitting days before the federal election, the government failed to obtain the necessary cross-bench support to proceed with the proposed legislation and it did not proceed.

So, the proposed merger of the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court is off the table for now, but change, including an alternate model for a restructuring of federal courts, is likely to not be far away on the other side of the election.

Joint Court working group

The Family Court and Federal Circuit Court have taken a step towards reform and develop a unified family law process.

In response to requests by the legal profession and the community for changes to the family law system. The courts have set up a working group to look at establishing a common set of rules, forms and case management in the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court.

Currently, the two courts have two different sets of rules, form and processes. This has resulted in confusion and inefficiencies.

New Court Family Violence Plan

The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court last month released the Family Violence Plan. It provides a comprehensive set of actions that will support people who are experiencing, or are at risk of, family violence.

The plan has refined and updated the Family Violence Plan 2014-16. It builds on the Courts 2014-16 Plan and will be used by administrative staff, decision-makers, legal practitioners, services providers and others involved in the overall family law system.

The Plan covers areas as diverse as building layout, security screening, risk assessment, safety planning for individual litigants, and education and training of staff. It also covers the review and updating of the Family Violence Best Practice Principles, a document designed to assist judges, legal practitioners and litigants understand the legal requirements for all matters in which family violence is alleged.

New rules for cross-examination of victims of Domestic Violence

From 11 September 2019, new arrangements will begin regarding the cross-examination of victims of domestic violence in the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court.

This is relevant for parties who are self-represented in the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court. If a person is acting on their own behalf without a lawyer at a trial, they are prevented from cross-examining the other party, in the following circumstances:

  • There is an allegation of family violence between the person wanting to cross-examine and the witness they are wanting to cross-examine.

And one of the following applies;

  • Either party has been convicted of, or is charged with an offence involving violence or threat of violence to the other party; or
  • A family violence order applies to both parties (final order only); or
  • The court at their discretion makes such an order.

If a party finds themselves in this scenario they will have to engage a legal representative to undertake the cross-examination on their behalf.

Family Law

Need family law advice? Call us on (07) 3221 4300 or email law@mlynch.com.au to book a fixed-fee, no obligation initial consultation with a family law expert. Alternatively, request an appointment online here.

2019-05-29T16:24:39+10:00

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D.S., Coorparoo
Michael Lynch Family Lawyers have really listened to me. I felt confident my case was handled well. The law has changed recently, and I did not feel that a previous law practice I spoke to was suitably up-to-date.
P.B., Carindale
Michael is a good listener. My documentation maintained the high moral ground.
S.S., Hamilton
Thank you for providing me with a professional yet empathetic approach to gain the best outcome for me. My solicitor was excellent in explaining the processes and in representing me in Court. You have great customer service!
T.V., Everton Park
I appreciate you being upfront with fee estimates. You also have a fantastic website and the seminars REALLY helped to get me focussed.
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A.O., North Brisbane
I was impressed by my solicitor’s attention to detail and her concern for me, and that the process was explained to me and that I understood it at all times.
B.W., Chapel Hill
The staff at Michael Lynch Family Lawyers were great. Everyone was fantastic, professional, understanding, caring and always communicated with me. I knew I was in good hands.
A.A., Eatons Hill
I appreciate my lawyer’s professional approach and her being on top of my situation.
N.S., Mt Gravatt
Amy, thank you. You have been diligent, accurate and pro-active for the entire duration of my matter. I appreciate it.
R.P., Cleveland
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G.C., Clayfield
Thank you, you placed my needs first, you were aware of the need to reach a final result and not get caught up in the personal issues of the other party.
S.L., Moranbah
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R.G., Wishart
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N.R., Crows Nest
I was also always confident that I was getting the very best advice.
T.S., Flinders
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D.H., Hendra
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D.T., Ferny Grove
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A.C., Helensvale
My family lawyer was very helpful in assisting me to combat a very ugly situation without stooping to the low levels that the other solicitor attempted to take us.
M.J., Manly
If I need a family lawyer in the future I’ll be heading to Michael Lynch Family Lawyers again.
C.W., Brookfield
I’m very glad Michael is my lawyer and not the other side’s solicitor.
S.S., Hamilton
Thank you, you kept me sane in a difficult situation and gave me the encouragement and the confidence to keep going. You made me feel extremely comfortable.
A.M., Chambers Flat
At Michael Lynch Family Lawyers I got professional and no nonsense advice, costs were within quoted amounts and my matter was resolved quickly – well done!
L.R., Ascot
Many thanks for your assistance – life is now great – I’m moving on.
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My solicitor provided a personalised service, prompt and quick responses and cost information prior to my commitment.
G.C., Southport
I like that my lawyer treated me like a friend and kept jargon to a minimum. She was easy to contact and kept me informed.
L.R., Samford
Thank you for your ongoing conciliatory approach in this matter and as always I appreciate your level headed advice. I certainly feel that I ended up with the right Solicitor.
S.C., Nundah
A personalised and professional service. Information has been clear and provided timely to assist my decision-making.
S.S., Hamilton
Lovely to deal with and provides a balanced view in what are very difficult circumstances.
A.C., Morningside
Thank you for the outstanding legal advice you have provided and professionalism in which you conduct yourself. I am truly thankful that it was you who represented me.
M.T., Stafford
Michael is very personable and very good at covering the material and explaining the strategy.
J.O., Hawthorne
Michael was the most knowledgeable of all lawyers I spoke to when looking for a lawyer. He showed professionalism.
R.R., Brighton
Thank you for being very personable, professional and always providing me with the most appropriate advice in my times of difficulty. The other party’s lawyers were extremely aggressive, while Michael Lynch Family Lawyers remained calm and professional.
S.D., Parkinson
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R.P., Cleveland
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C.T., Bribie Island

I have appreciated the way that you and the staff at your firm have handled my situation. I would especially like to mention the professional and caring way my lawyer conducted my case, I am deeply grateful and extremely happy with the results. I will be referring others to your service.

J.H., Wellington Point

Thank you for helping me through this difficult time. You have been caring, compassionate and efficient. Some of my divorcing friends have not been so fortunate. In my mind you are the best family lawyer in Brisbane. If anyone I know needs a good family lawyer, I will tell them to speak to you. Thanks again.

B.T., Clayfield
I was guided through a really difficult time with expertise of Michael Lynch Family Lawyers. I am more than happy with the outcome of mediation.
J.H., Windaroo
Michael, thank you again for your presence here yesterday. We really appreciated the clarity and accessibility of your presentation. It is a rare thing to find somebody who not only has expertise, but also has a skill in communicating it.
J.S., Brisbane

I just wanted to get in touch to say thanks for helping me get through my custody and settlement. Thanks again to you and your staff. You have had a significant positive impact in my kids’ lives!

B.S., Brisbane

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R.B., Toowong

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C.M., Brisbane

Thank you very much to everyone at Michael Lynch Family Lawyers. Thank you for helping me get my life back and make a fresh start. To have that fresh start without fear and anxiety is priceless.

A.A., Perth, Your Content Goes Here