With the merger on 1 September 2021 of the the Family Court of Australia (FCoA) and Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCC) to create the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA), there are also new Family Law Rules and a new Family Law Central Practice Direction. These have set out the family law case management pathway which family law court cases should proceed along.
Family Law Case Management Pathway
Once proceedings are commenced, they will generally follow a nationally consistent family law case management pathway.
These are the steps that your case will proceed along, after you have filed an Initiating Application or Response to Initiating Application. Jano Family Law are able to provide you with a fixed fee quotation, stage by stage, so that you can manage your legal costs all the way from the beginning to the end. Each of these events are important and significant events in your matter requiring proper preparation and competent legal representation if you are to achieve your goals.
First Court Event
Type of event: Directions hearing before a Judicial Registrar.
Timeframe: Expected to be within 8 weeks from the date of filing.
Purpose: To assess and triage the matter and make appropriate court orders to facilitate the timely disposition of the matter. This will include assessing compliance with all pre-filing requirements, ensuring that all required documents have been filed, assessing the need for an interim hearing and any expert evidence, making directions for dispute resolution and identifying matters which are appropriate for transfer to Division 1. Risk issues will also be considered at this hearing, and cases may be allocated to specialist lists including the Magellan List.
Type of event: Hearing before a Senior Judicial Registrar, or if necessary, a Judge.
Timeframe: At an appropriate time having regard to the urgency of the matter and the need to obtain appropriate evidence.
Purpose: Determination of any interim applications brought by the parties.
Dispute Resolution: Mediation, Conciliation Conference or Family Dispute Resolution
Type of event: Dispute resolution event such as mediation, Conciliation Conference or Family Dispute Resolution, conducted either externally or within the Court.
Timeframe: Expected to be within 5 months from date of filing.
Purpose: The FCFCOA pathway places significant emphasis on dispute resolution. This is designed to assist parties to resolve their cases and enable them to cease their engagement with the court system whenever this can be done safely.
Compliance and Readiness Hearing
Type of event: Compliance hearing before a Judge or Senior Judicial Registrar.
Timeframe: Following Dispute Resolution event, and expected to be no later than 6 months from the date of filing.
Purpose: If matters remain unresolved after Dispute Resolution the judicial officer presiding over this event, will check to see if parties have complied with court orders and directions to ensure that parties have made a genuine attempt to resolve issues. This event will involve a robust exploration of the reasons for continuation of the matter and options for bringing it to a conclusion prior to trial. Further consideration as to the appropriate Division for each matter will be undertaken at this hearing. This hearing will be used to allocate a trial date.
Trial Management Hearing
Type of event: Directions hearing before the allocated trial Judge.
Timeframe: Prior to commencement of trial, if considered appropriate by trial Judge.
Purpose: The making of any further orders and directions as considered necessary or appropriate by the trial Judge.
Type of event: Final hearing.
Timeframe: The aim is for matters that have not resolved, and require a trial, to be listed within 12 months from the date of filing. This may be subject to the parties complying with relevant orders and directions.
Purpose: Determination of outstanding applications.
What should you do to prepare for Court events?
You should take each of these Court events extremely seriously. The Court expects that parties and lawyers attend these events fully prepared. There are also various compulsory steps which must be taken prior to each Court event, failing to take these steps or file the correct documents in time means that you may incur penalties such as costs being awarded against you. It is imperative that you obtain competent legal advice from a lawyer practising in family law. Jano Family Law are able to provide you with a fixed fee quotation, stage by stage, so that you can manage your legal costs all the way from the beginning to the end.
If you are involved in family law litigation, it is important that you have the right family lawyer representing you. While the new family law case management pathway is designed to make family law litigation more streamlined and faster, it also means there is less room for error. To make a confidential, no-obligation inquiry, please use our secured and encrypted New Client Form.