Contact and day to day care

Family Court Reforms

There have been recent changes to how the Family Court works. The changes are designed to help parents make care arrangements for their children outside of the Family Court.

More out of court services will be available including a free Parenting through Separation (PTS) course and a new Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) service. The FDR will involve a trained mediator helping parents reach agreement for the care of their children without the need for lawyers or a judge. There is a fee of $897.00 for this service that may be waived for those who are eligible.

The PTS course and FDR will be mandatory for most people prior to making an application to the Family Court. Applications can still be made directly to the Family Court in cases or urgency or safety.

The Family Court reforms also have an impact on when a person may be legally represented in Court. Although parties are still entitled to seek legal advice from lawyers before court proceedings are filed, a lawyer cannot represent the client in court unless specifically authorised by the legislation or a judge.

As these reforms have only just been implemented it remains to be seen whether they can adequately protect the vulnerable, ensure that the focus is on the children and avoid pressure on the already busy court professionals.

Rachel Napier
12 May 2014