Profession Update: Beginning of New Federal Circuit and Australia Family Court


The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia released information last week outlining changes to the functioning of the courts that will occur at the start of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) from September 1, 2021.

On September 1, we will see a new innovative, fair and efficient Court that focuses on risk, responsiveness and resolution, by:

  • Improve the early identification of risks and the safety of children and vulnerable parties
  • Encourage smarter ways to part with less acrimony, lower costs and more dispute resolution
  • Wait for the respect of court decisions
  • Improve national access to justice for vulnerable parties and regional communities through the use of technology, and
  • Resolve up to 90 percent of cases within 12 months, if possible.

The following details provide an overview of changes to the harmonized rules, practice guidelines, forms and the FCFCOA website. There is an overview of how appeals will be handled under the new structure and changes to child dispute resolution services and the roles of the Registrar. Details of the new national ticket list are also provided.

Case management

Details of the new case management path were provided in last week’s update. In addition to this information, practitioners are advised that as the new system starts up, decisions will be made as to which cases from existing courts will be transferred to the new path. Practitioners can assume that their lists will remain as they are, unless otherwise specified.

When cases are assigned a first return list, they will be assigned based on whether they are properties only or not.

Harmonized rules

Following extensive consultations with the profession and other stakeholders, the harmonized family law rules developed by the Joint Working Group on Harmonization of Rules are nearing finalization and are currently in the process of being finalized. ” be transformed into a formal instrument by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel.

A vote of the judges of each court will take place in August and the settlement will begin on September 1, 2021.

Practice directions in family law

A general practice direction, which sets out guidelines for the management of family law proceedings in the FCFCOA, was drafted and was distributed to stakeholders in the profession for feedback this week.

The first versions of the Practice Directions were circulated to a number of stakeholders for review along with the draft Harmonized Rules, and have since been updated in light of the comments and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2021. These practice guidelines are expected to come into force on September 1, 2021 and are aligned with and refer to harmonized family law rules.

A series of 14 new practice guidelines have also been developed and will be available from September 1 to accompany the harmonized family law rules. These practice guidelines provide advice to litigants and practitioners on the various areas of practice within the family law jurisdiction.


A full review of all existing forms is currently underway to align with FCFCOA as of September 1, 2021. Most of the changes to the forms will involve updating references to legislation, names and terms, if applicable. In addition, where possible, some forms will undergo larger changes to improve functionality and usability.

Practitioners are advised that the name of the Case Claim Form will be changed to Case Claim.

It is important to note that the Court will make transitional arrangements for the use of new forms with a 90-day grace period for old forms.


FCFCOA Division 1 will retain jurisdiction to hear family law appeals. However, there will be no separate appeal division. All Division 1 judges will be able to hear appeals either as a single judge or as part of a full tribunal. All appeals from decisions of FCFCOA (Division 2) and Western Australian Family Law Judges will be heard by a Single Judge, unless the Chief Justice considers it appropriate that the appeal be heard by a Plenary court.

A single national register for lodging appeals will also be put in place to provide a centralized and consistent method at national level for lodging an appeal.

National list of contraventions

A national ticket list will be introduced on September 1, 2021 to meet the expectation that all parties comply with court orders, and that alleged violations of court orders will be taken seriously and dealt with expeditiously. The main objectives of the National List of Violations are:

  • Effectively process nationwide claims in a fast, cost-effective and secure manner for all litigants,
  • for requests to receive an early return date within 14 days of filing,
  • ensure respect for court decisions by all parties,
  • impose appropriate penalties or sanctions when a contravention has been proven and a party has failed to demonstrate that they had a reasonable excuse for not complying with court orders,
  • proactively facilitating the resolution of underlying issues in disputes that lead to the filing of such claims,
  • sort out the appropriate issues to resolve disputes, and
  • be sensitive to a party’s wishes to resolve issues without resorting to additional litigation.

A practice direction for the new list of contraventions will accompany the beginning of the list.

Registrar – name change

As part of the global changes, registrars will be given different titles. Principal Registrars will become Principal Court Registrars, Registrars will be Court Registrars and Deputy Registrars will be Deputy Registrars.

Children’s services and family counselors

Changes will be made to the work to be undertaken by Child Dispute Services under the FCFCOA. Instead of the current Section 11F assessment process, there will be a slightly more comprehensive report known as the Child Impact Report, which will be designed to help parenting parties achieve agreement to the extent possible, and to provide expert advice to the court. for provisional hearings. For matters moving to the trial preparation phase, the current family report template will remain available, with additional options available, including reports relating to specific issues and addendum reports based on the report of the family. impact on the original child.

Family Consultants will become known as Children’s Court Experts, in recognition that their role and expertise is broader than the legislative role of Family Consultant, and Children’s Dispute Services will become known as the Service for judicial children.

A new website –

A new website will be launched on September 1, 2021. It has been designed to provide users with easier access and navigation to court information. Instead of having two separate websites, the single website will make it easier for the profession, litigants and the public to find specific information on family law, migration and general federal law.

Three videos will also be posted on the new website. One aims to help parties, before they initiate litigation, to consider better ways to separate and encourage the use of dispute resolution. The other two videos provide details on the new FCFCOA and a step-by-step guide to what parties can expect when they go to court.

/ Public distribution. This material is from the original organization and may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. See it in full here.


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