Introducing the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

Introducing the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

The new Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) has today officially commenced operations.

This is a significant change to the legal landscape, with the new court to provide a single point of entry for family law matters.

Its aim is to create a modern, fair and efficient system of justice that puts a greater emphasis on early settlement of disputes where that can be safely done.

There will no doubt be some impact to existing processes, with new harmonised rules, practice directions and case management procedures coming into effect.

To support practitioners in the transition, we’ve been sending out regular updates as provided by the court and will continue to do so.

We are currently revising the Handbook to update fee tables and the templates on ATLAS to reflect the changes.

While this is expected to take some time, practitioners can still claim a Stage 2F (parenting matters) or Stage 1B (ICL matters) for compliance and readiness hearings and trial management hearings if listed.

The court’s new website is also now accessible at fcfcoa.gov.au with further advice and information.

What do we know?

We know the merged court will comprise of two divisions, with Division 1 dealing only with family law matters (including appeals) and Division 2 hearing both family law and general federal law matters.

Under the legislative changes, the court has undergone major structural changes, featuring:

  • a single point of entry for all family law matters
  • a new case management pathway
  • specialist lists
  • harmonised family law rules
  • new family law practice directions
  • focus on dispute resolution
  • enhanced child expert reporting process.

There has been a review of all existing forms and new and updated court forms will operate from Wednesday 1 September.

It is important to note that there is a 90-day grace period for old forms so there will be time to adapt to the changes.

More information

Practitioners can read the Updates to the Profession as released by the court.

Read about our work in family law matters, and some further facts.

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