By Gianna Huesch
The family law arena is currently in the process of undergoing major reform, which almost everyone agrees is long overdue, thanks to the well-documented problems besetting the system.
With the entire family law system including the Family Law Act being reviewed by the Australian Law Reform Commission, a parliamentary inquiry into family violence and family law currently underway, and new pilot dispute resolution programs being implemented, the next few years are likely to see dramatic and hopefully very positive changes to how family law matters are conducted for Australians going through separation and divorce.
This week also sees the statutory retirement of the family court’s chief justice of the past 13 years, Diana Bryant, though her successor has yet to be announced. Under the Australian constitution, Ms Bryant has had tenure in her role until she reached the age of 70.
The Australian newspaper reports that “her retirement has been viewed by some as an opportunity to restructure the existing federal courts”, implicating the change in leadership as another avenue for changing the family law system, possibly through merging the Federal and Family Courts:
“The government has been urged to consider options including abolishing the Family Court and creating a new division of the Federal Court to handle family law, or to place Federal Court Chief Justice James Allsop in charge of running all federal courts — similar to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.”
However, the newspaper states that the government has rejected the rumour that it was considering such a plan.
There are a number of candidates who may potentially take the place of Diana Bryant as family court chief justice, including the next most senior judge Stephen Thackray (also chief judge of the Family Court of Western Australia), John Pascoe, the Federal Circuit Court chief judge, Family Court judge Judith Ryan, NSW Supreme Court judge Paul Brereton and barrister Michael Kearney SC.
Do you need assistance with a family law matter? Please contact Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance.