In recent months, significant changes have come into effect in relation to the family law system in Australia. On 1 September 2021, the Federal Circuit Court (FCC) and the Family Court of Australia (FCOA) officially merged, forming the newly amalgamated Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA).

As a result, parties and legal practitioners are now subject to new rules and practice directions which prescribe how family law matters are to operate.


To put it simply, the Court system was worn-out and the resources were overstretched. The overlapping family law jurisdiction often led to confusion, inequality and significant costs and it was clear that major change was required.

The introduction of the FCFCOA has streamlined the family law process in Australia. It has created a single entry point for all family law matters with uniform rules, forms and procedures, and an overarching principle of “facilitating the just resolution of disputes according to law and as quickly, in expensively and efficiently as possible”. Unlike the previous Court structure, where matters could, and often did, remain in the Court system for many years, the FCFCOA aims to have matters resolved within twelve months of filing.

The FCFCOA consists of two divisions:

  • Division 1: deals with very complex family law matters and appeals; and
  • Division 2: the single entry point for all other family law matters.

What does this mean for you?

The new FCFCOA legislation and the Family Law Rules 2021 require parties to make genuine attempts to resolve their dispute prior to commencing proceedings with the Court. There is a greater focus on dispute resolution and parties must file a Genuine Steps Certification which confirms that, unless an exemption applies, they have complied with the pre-action requirements of the Court.

The pre-action procedures include that a party must invite the other party to participate in dispute resolution and provide full and frank disclosure of all relevant documents and information. The introduction of the pre-action procedures aims to ensure that parties are not prematurely commencing proceedings in circumstances where a dispute could resolve without the need for litigation. Further, it is hoped that the pre-action procedures will ensure that the overarching principle of the Court is achieved.

How can we help?

Navigating the family law system can be both confusion and emotionally exhausting for those experiencing the difficulties associated with a relationship breakdown. Our experienced family law team at Antunes Lawyers are across the changes which have arisen with the new Court structure and are dedicated to assisting you to achieve resolution of your family law situation as quickly, cost efficiently and with as little emotional toll on you as possible.

Contact one of our expert team members on (02) 9964 0499 to discuss your situation.

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The articles on this website comprise legal general information and not legal advice. The general information presented here must not be relied upon without legal advice being sought. In the event that you wish to obtain legal advice on the contents of this general information you may do so by contacting our office or your existing solicitor.