(07) 5597 3366

Creaking at the seams – Australia’s Family Law system under review

Any person unfortunate enough to be caught up in the family law process will tell you how painfully slow the system can be. Lack of resources, too many litigants and more rules and regulations than you can shake a stick at all combine to make the experience long-winded, frustrating and costly.

So there must be some comfort to hear that the Federal Attorney-General Senator the Honourable George Brandis QC has announced a review is to be carried out by the Australian Law Reform Commission (‘ALRC’). This is the first comprehensive review of the family law system since the Family Law Act was implemented in the mid-1970s.

In his media release announcing the review, the Attorney-General described the review as being ‘long overdue’ and that sentiment is likely to be echoed by any practitioner working in this field. He summarised the nature of the review as follows:

The review of the family law system will be broad and far-reaching, focusing on key areas of importance to Australian families. These include ensuring the family law system prioritises the best interests of children, best addresses family violence and child abuse, and supports families, including those with complex needs to resolve their family law disputes quickly and safely while minimising the financial burden.

You can read the full terms of reference for the review at:

Unfortunately the review whilst welcome is not going to help anyone caught up in the system anytime soon. The ALRC’s report isn’t due until 31 March 2019.  With the sluggish speed of governmental wheels, it is easy to imagine that any reforms proposed following the review are likely to be many years away from now.

What anyone facing a family law dispute needs to know is that there are some ways around the system. Alternative Dispute Resolution (‘ADR’) plays a vital role in solving cases whether by negotiation, mediation, arbitration or a combination of these and other approaches.

It is important to obtain clear legal advice at the outset of your matter. An experienced family lawyer can then direct you to the best way to solve the issues you face so that wherever possible a long drawn out court saga can be avoided.

Bell Legal Group is experienced in family law dispute resolution including by ADR. For more information on this topic please contact Margaret Miller, Partner and Family Lawyer. This article has been prepared by Bell Legal Group for general information purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.