Ebene News – UA – ‘Devastating Moment’: Family Law Experts and Former Judges Respond to Family Court Merger

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Former judges and legal support services have expressed dismay at the “devastating” passage of a law that will see family court combined with Federal Circuit Court, allegations survivors of violence domestic workers could end up “falling through the cracks”

The government’s bill was passed in the Senate overnight, with the support of One Nation and Independent Senator Rex Patrick

It comes after family law experts and other parliamentarians voiced opposition to the merger late last year

Attorney General Christian Porter argued that the changes would result in a simpler, faster and less expensive legal system for those hoping to settle family disputes

“Successive governments have been talking about reforming family courts for decades – the Morrison government has done it,” Mr. Carry

The Federal Circuit Court has jurisdiction over a wide range of issues, including bankruptcy, copyright, migration and family law

It was created to ease the pressure on the Federal Court and Family Court by dealing with less complex cases

Today, approximately 90 percent of the court’s workload is in the area of ​​family law

But former family court chief justice Alastair Nicholson, who served on the bench until 2004, called the government’s claims of a more efficient system “somewhat dubious”

He said the court merger could see judges with “no real knowledge” of family law presiding over cases and could result in even longer delays for families trying to resolve disputes

“[The Circuit Court is] a court that has jurisdiction in a number of other areas like immigration and the like,” he told ABC

“There will be times when these cases may take precedence due to their urgency”

Former family court judge Stephen O’Ryan QC went even further, saying the court he presided was “effectively abolished”

He said there were “start-up problems” in the years after the Family Court was established in the 1970s

But he believed the court had become the best system in the world for settling family disputes, with much of what he had started being adopted by other jurisdictions, like Singapore and Fiji.

“[The change] completely destroys what has been achieved through the efforts of so many people over a long period of time,” Mr. O’Ryan

Women’s Legal Services Australia CEO Angela Lynch said it was a great loss for vulnerable women and children who are turning to family courts for protection

Ms Lynch said those seeking to settle disputes would end up fighting for resources with other jurisdictions

“Judges are already under pressure Families are already under pressure there could certainly be people falling through the cracks, ”she said

But a domestic violence survivor intimately familiar with the family justice system hailed the change

“I actually think it’s a good idea,” she told ABC on condition of anonymity

“My experience is that the handling of domestic violence by the [family] court is poor and I don’t think it works very well as a specialized court”

She believed that consolidating resources could lead to a better outcome for families and survivors of domestic violence

“I just think there is a possibility to consolidate the resources So instead of dividing the resources between two jurisdictions, they will have them in one and you will have one person who will oversee the whole system: the chief judge”

Hayley Foster, CEO of Women’s Safety NSW, said most of her clients in metropolitan areas were against court mergers because they believed it would reduce the specialist role that family court plays

“On the other hand, those who live in regional, rural and remote areas often they don’t have access to family court anyway, “she said

“In many cases it can take seven or eight hours to drive to a family law registry

“They use the district court anyway and welcome a specialized stream for Family Court cases there”

After securing the support of One Nation, South Australian Senator Rex Patrick’s vote was decisive

He backed the bill after securing a series of measures targeting his home state South Australia including three additional judges and a clerk

A $ 14 million pilot program will also be implemented in the state, providing additional legal aid for family law matters

“I am proud to stand here and say that I have advocated for my state to address an issue that I know has caused hardship for the community in South Australia, namely the lack of resources in South Australia, “said Senator Patrick

Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus called passage of the bill a “terrible day for vulnerable families”

“The Family Court is too important to be traded for short-term deals and this shameful vote will hurt some of Australia’s most desperate and vulnerable people for years to come,” M said Dreyfus

“It is very telling that, unlike the marathon parliamentary debate that the Whitlam government allowed when the tribunal was created in 1975, the Morrison government shut down the debate so that it could pass its legislation through the Senate in just two seconds. days”

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Ebene News – UA – “Devastating moment”: Family law experts and former judges react to family court merger

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-18/family-court-merger-federal-circuit-court-reactions/13168506