As a joint parliamentary committee starts work to examine Australia’s family law system, a Newcastle and Hunter law firm has launched a new, free, e-resource to help people better navigate the system.
The team at Catherine Henry Lawyers has developed Families and the Law: A guide to help you navigate the family law system.
Head of family and relationship law at Catherine Henry Lawyers, Alan Wright, said the guide has been published to help people to navigate the legal system in the following areas of life:
- property settlement
- de facto relationships
- parenting arrangements
- financial agreements and spousal maintenance
- apprehended domestic violence orders
- child support.
Mr Wright said the guide looks at the family law system and provides information and tips for individuals to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“Going through a family or relationship breakdown is one of life’s most traumatic events,” Mr Wright said.
“Knowing where you stand legally, right from the start, is important so that you can confidently start to make plans to move forward,” he said.
Principal, Catherine Henry, said that while her firm concurs with many other commentators who question the need for the parliamentary inquiry, hopefully it can be an opportunity to fix the broken family law system.
“The wide-ranging inquiry will examine issues such as apprehended violence orders and their role in family law proceedings, the truthfulness of evidence in family court proceedings, the structure of the court and legal costs faced by parties”.
“The terms of reference assume a merger between the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court.”
Ms Henry said there had already been numerous inquiries and what the Government needs to do is to act and increase funding.
“The major problem facing the family law system is under-resourcing, particularly in regional areas,” Ms Henry said.
“People are waiting around 18 months to have matters heard,” she said.
“This inquiry has been announced despite the Government still not responding to an Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) review of the system, released in March.”
The ALRC review recommended sweeping changes, in 60 recommendations, including scrapping the current Family Court, and giving the states the power to judge such cases. Ms Henry said the scrapping of the Family Court has been rejected by the Government, which wants to merge the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court in a bid to ease delays.
A 2017 House of Representatives inquiry into a “better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence” made 33 recommendations.
You can access the free guide here or by calling 4929 3995.