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Family Courts Merger update

Family Courts moving closer to 1 January 2019 merger

The recent leadership tussle within the Liberal party does not seem to have altered the Australian government’s plan to merge the Family Court of Australia with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia from 1 January 2019.

Following the original 30 May 2018 announcement advising of the proposed merger, the Attorney General for the Commonwealth, Christian Porter MP, has now introduced the necessary bills to Parliament.

Details of the merger announced by the Attorney-General’s office are as follows:

  • … the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia will be brought together as the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFC) from 1 January 2019. The FCFC will comprise two divisions: the FCFC (Division 1) would be a continuation of the Family Court, and the FCFC (Division 2) would be a continuation of the Federal Circuit Court. As such, the FCFC will preserve the current cohort of Judges of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, including their extensive family law and family violence expertise.
  • A new Family Law Appeal Division in the Federal Court of Australia will also be established to hear all appeals in family law matters from the FCFC and federal family law appeals from the Family Court of Western Australia.


But … the ALRC Family Law review is not due until 31 March 2019

Professional bodies of the legal profession including the Law Council of Australia have expressed reservations about the merger and the pace with which it is being pushed forward. In part this is because of the ongoing review into the whole of the Australian Family Law system being carried out by the Australian Law Reform Commission. The ALRC report is not due until 31 March 2019.

It remains to be seen whether the merger will go ahead in the time and manner as envisaged by the current government. In the meantime the existing courts will continue and further announcements for transition arrangements are awaited.



This article is for information purposes only. It is not legal advice nor is it intended to be. For professional legal advice about your Family Law matter – including cases already before the courts – contact our Family Law team on 07 5597 3366 or complete the form below.