Delays in the Family Court
In most legal matters, where negotiations have broken down between parties and issues remain in dispute, the only body with the power to resolve the matter is a Court.
In Family Law Matters, the Courts with jurisdiction to hear disputes are the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court. The Registry for these courts, which is geographically the closest to us, is in Parramatta.
Whilst matters which are unable to be resolved often have some elements which are pressing, the downside of having to have the matter dealt with by the Court is the waiting times which parties face before their dispute can be determined.
When commencing proceedings in Family Law Matters, parties usually seek Interim Orders (to deal with the pressing issues) and Final Orders to bring the matter to a conclusion. Once the Interim issues have been dealt with and the Court no longer views the matter as urgent, the waiting times can be lengthy.
Recently an article in the Sydney Morning Herald outlined the problems with delay in the Family Court and the pending reduction in Judges to hear these matters. The link below will take you directly to this interesting article.
In our personal experience, families wait between 12 months and 3 years to have Final Orders made in their matters depending on the likely hearing time for the court and the complexity of the issues which need to be determined. Some matters do settle in this time period. However, where the matter is incapable of being resolved by agreement, there is generally no way to fast track the final hearing before the court.
We often provide advice to our clients that if the matter is able to be resolved without the intervention of the Court, the results will be quicker and more cost effective for all parties. Entering into Consent Orders is a good option for some parties as the matter will be finalised by the Court making Orders without the need for a full final hearing. This is a good resolution for many of our clients.
Before you decide that your matter is one which needs to be resolved by a Judge, it is prudent to exhaust all other avenues first as the waiting times can leave families hanging without a resolution for extended periods and the legal costs will be significantly increased. Due to the significant strain placed on all members of the family caused by any lengthy delay we always recommend alternatives to our clients.
In the event that you require advice about your options to resolve any family disputes please contact our experienced family law team on (02) 4731 5688.