Media reports of further delays and underfunding in the Federal Circuit Court and Family Courts are alarming, and will put mothers and children at risk of being domestic violence victims, particularly those in regional areas.
It’s an emotional time for everyone when a relationship breaks down, particularly for children. For couples going through a divorce, it currently takes up to two years for family legal matters such as custody arrangements to be resolved due to a lack of judicial resources. I believe most of these cases should only take 12 months.
What is particularly concerning is that families in remote and regional areas are suffering the greatest from the delays and under resourcing, with many unable to travel to Family Court. Family law practitioners know that the longer the delay to have their matter resolved, the worse the damage to the child.
Most cases before the Family Court are children’s matters and the demand on court services means that judges and parents are being forced to order temporary measures that may not be in the best interest of the child.
The stop gap measures that are put in place while a decision is being made can fundamentally affect a child’s development and put both the child and their mother at risk of domestic violence.
Children under five years of age are at a critical stage of development and that can be adversely impacted from disruptive custody arrangements and feuding parents.
We will continue to support the Federal Circuit Court and our clients, but the Federal Government should give careful consideration to resourcing the court at a level where cases can be resolved within 12 months to keep it in line with industry best practice.