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‘ Family Court Underfunded’, says Chief Justice

Long wait times, no checks to see if Family Court Orders are being complied with and huge underfunding – these are some of the issues raised by Chief Justice Diana Bryant earlier this week in a call for greater funding to the family court system.

“I feel as though the Government doesn’t understand the effect this is having on families” she says.

Law Council spokesperson Wendy Kayler-Thomson agrees, saying the inability of the courts to provide timely access to justice is causing people to give up or settle for outcomes that were not in their interests or those of their children.

She says part of the problem is that almost a third of people going through the family court system are representing themselves, which can mean they aren’t aware of their rights and don’t know how to get the result they want out of a complex court system.

For Tom* it took almost three years to get a family order giving him access to his children after separation. But a year ago his children never arrived for their scheduled visit. He has not seen them since and has now been diagnosed with depression.

The police will not get involved and his only option is to go back to the courts.

“I just don’t think that I can mentally go through another year or two or three or whatever it is going to take to see the kids.

“To go back into the system again — I just don’t know whether I can handle it.”

However, going to Court is not the only option. Lawyers can help clients pursue alternate strategies, such as mediation, to seek resolutions with their ex-partner without going to Court. This can be a lot cheaper, preserve relationships for the long-run and get a result both parties are happy with.

If you are interested in finding out more about the family law system and the different options available to you to resolve family law issues, please call Alliance Legal, on (02) 6233 2400.

* Not his real name

For more information on the underfunding of the family law system, see: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-30/family-court-letting-families-down-chief-justice-says/8483858

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