Family courts at breaking point

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Lawyers are again warning that under-resourced courts are leading to lengthy delays in the Family Court and in the Family Law Division of the Federal Circuit Court.

According to the Law Society of NSW, costs saving measures by the federal government are causing serious financial strain on the system.  Law Society president John Eades, judges are not being replaced to fill retirements or resignations.

“This has a serious impact on parties, particularly children, for example through their contact with parties, enrolment at school or in relation to an appeal on a relocation order,” he said.

Eades said the number of dockets shared by judges on leave makes finalising matters efficiently and hearing urgent applications nearly impossible.

“Delays are experienced by parties when they file a matter, waiting for a final hearing date, and waiting for a judgement to be delivered.”

Chair of the NSW Law Society’s family law committee Zora Kekeff said the delays are having significant psychological effects on people using the systems.

“The feedback I get from my clients is they feel like they can’t move on in their life until the whole thing is sorted out,” she told Australasian Lawyer.

“They don’t have any resolution as to what’s going to happen… The impact may be significant from a child protection perspective.
“I think it impacts upon people psychologically that they feel they can’t move on,” she said.

The Law Council is calling for the Federal Government to urgently address the issue.