31 August 2021

MEDIA RELEASE: Family Court merger to focus on Dispute Resolution to keep Australian families out of Court

31 August 2021

For the first time in over two decades, Australian families will have a single point of entry to the Federal court system following the merger of the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court from September 1, 2021, creating the new Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA).

The new Court will ensure that dispute resolution opportunities are a priority for parties in dispute who are contemplating legal proceedings so that they are able to better identify the issues in dispute and come to a speedy and satisfactory resolution. The Court’s hope is that litigating parties will take advantage of the opportunity to participate in dispute resolution where it is safe to do so.

“The new Court’s overarching purpose is to facilitate the just resolution of disputes. The emphasis is on dispute resolution processes before parties consider going to court and after the commencement of legal proceedings. The bold and innovative change to Court processes represents a cultural shift away from a community focussed on the judicial determination of family court matters,” said Michael Keogh, Resolution Institute member and Dispute Resolution Practitioner.

The Court encourages parties to use Dispute Resolution procedures and to prioritise both internal and external Dispute Resolution, including private mediation, Family Dispute Resolution (FDR), Conciliation Conferences and Arbitration in property disputes for as many cases as possible.

“The Court will use an effective case management system which prioritises the safety of children and vulnerable parties in the assessment of the appropriate pathway for all matters,” said Mr. Keogh.

Resolution Institute supports this innovative, less adversarial, and modern approach to resolving family disputes and applauds the Court’s focus on the safety of families and children. The new Court’s Dispute Resolution oriented approach will not only lead to more objectively better outcomes for parties, but also all those involved will have a greater opportunity to achieve a just resolution of their dispute.

“Some of the dispute resolution work will be undertaken by court appointed nationally accredited registrars some of whom are members of Resolution Institute as accredited family law Dispute Resolution practitioners, and we stand ready as a willing and qualified provider of family dispute resolution practitioners to take on any overflow from the court as well as provide any support that may assist to ensure of the success of this mediation first model,” said Amber Williams, CEO of Resolution Institute.

Resolution Institute welcomes the appointment of 42 new Family Law registrars across regional and metropolitan cities and towns around Australia.  

Resolution Institute is the peak industry body across dispute resolution disciplines in Australia and Aotearoa, New Zealand. We are a vibrant community of mediators, arbitrators, expert determiners, adjudicators, restorative justice practitioners and other dispute resolution professionals. We value integrity, excellence, innovation, collaboration, diversity, and influence. We reflect these values in our work for and with our members.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Sean Brogan, Public Affairs Manager: 0477 102 303