The newly amalgamated Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA) has published a statement clarifying how the court will operate under the new merger.
The statement assures solicitors that the courts will continue to provide adequate resources and specialisation in the family law jurisdiction.
“The first core principle of the courts is: the prioritisation of the safety of children, vulnerable parties and litigants, as well as the early and ongoing identification and appropriate handling of issues of risk, including allegations of family violence, are essential elements of all case management,” Chief Justice William Alstergren wrote in the statement.
The first core principle of the courts is: the prioritisation of the safety of children, vulnerable parties and litigants, as well as the early and ongoing identification and appropriate handling of issues of risk.
Alstergren said the court would continue to provide specialisation in family law and would increase the number of specialist family law judges under the new structure. By August, there would be 35 specialist judges.
The legislation implementing the merger – the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2020 – also prescribes that the number of judges in the Family Court cannot be below 25. Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter assured the courts that any retiring judges would be replaced.
“The current … judges have an average of 25 years of family law experience between them, and many are former Registrars of the Family Court, experienced family law solicitors, barristers, senior counsel and senior academics,” Chief Justice Alstergren said.
“All of the specialist judges of both courts will continue to sit in the new FCFCA, hearing family law cases only.”