Australia has two courts that deal with family law matters - the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court. Recent changes proposed by the Morrison Government will merge the two courts, aiming to provide an overarching and unified structure known as the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
The Federal Circuit Court:
The Federal Circuit Court deals with a higher number of family law cases and is governed by the Federal Circuit Court Rules (2001).
Cases the Federal Circuit Court governs over include:
· Parenting and financial matters
· Child support and maintenance
· Injunctions; and
· Location and recovery of children
The Family Court:
The Family Court deals with more complex family law matters, and is governed by the Family Law Rules (2004).
· International child abduction
· International relocation
· Disputes as to whether the case should be heard in Australia.
· Special medical procedures
· Contravention of parenting orders made within 12 months of filing
· Serious allegations of sexual or physical abuse of a child
· Complex issues regarding jurisdiction
· Matters exceeding four days of hearing time
· Validity of marriages and divorces; and
The new Bill, called the Merger Bill, proposes the courts be combined and collectively referred to as ‘Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia’.
Despite opposition from the Labor Party, the Bill passed the House of Representatives this month and has been shelved to be further debated in parliament next year.
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