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Family court

Family courts–the stats

By January 10, 2018October 25th, 2021No Comments

By Gianna Huesch

Ever wonder exactly how many family law matters our family courts deal with each year?  Here are some interesting facts and figures about the family courts as described in the latest issue of Australian Family Lawyer by Minal Vohra SC, who has analysed and summarised the information contained in the 2016-2017 Annual Reports of the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court.

The Federal Circuit Court is Australia’s largest federal court, with the Annual Report counting 64 judges.  This number demonstrates the court’s rapid growth since it was first established (as the Federal Magistrates’ Court) in 2000 with the appointment of just 12 magistrates.  Ms Vohra notes, “Five ‘originals’ are still serving, namely Judges Mead, Baumann, Hartnett, Coker and Driver.”

While the Family Court deals with more complex family law matters (such as cases involving at-risk children), the Federal Circuit Court is designed to be a simpler alternative to the Family Court or the Federal Court, striving for informality and accessibility, utilising streamlined procedures and offering a range of dispute resolution processes.

Crunching the data from the Annual Reports, it’s revealed that the Family Court dealt with the filing of over 20,000 new applications over the past financial year.  More than 13,000 Consent Orders were made, 1,106 first instance judgments were published and 377 appeals were finalised.

The Federal Circuit Court, which comprises 30 circuit locations around the country and deals with the majority of family law matters, reported that a startling 85,477 filings were made in its family law division, representing 90% of its total filings.  The Federal Circuit Court judges handed down 1,349 family law judgments over the year, and of these 145 cases were subject to the filing of an appeal.

Both courts have set optimistic targets for the completion of cases in a timely manner. For the Family Court, there are three targets.  First, an impressively ambitious 100% clearance rate.  Secondly, three quarters of judgments to be delivered within three months.  Thirdly, three quarters of cases pending conclusion to be less than a year old.  Not surprisingly, given chronic resourcing issues, the Family Court was able to meet only one of these targets—the delivery of 75% of judgments within three months.

Interestingly, of all matters passing through the Family Court, only 15% proceed to final judgment, which Ms Vohra writes is “a figure consistent with the past five years”.

The targets set by the Federal Circuit Court are also optimistic:  90% of final order applications to be disposed of within a year, 90% of all other applications to be disposed of within six months, and 70% of matters to be resolved before trial.  This latter target was met, with 72% of cases resolved before trial.

Source:  Australian Family Lawyer

Do you need legal advice in relation to a family law matter or the family courts? Please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400 for an initial no-obligation, cost-free consultation.

Please note that our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance.


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