The recently announced full review of the family law Act starts in early October and is due to report in March 2019. This announcement is to be applauded. There can be few people who have been involved in family law issues who would not think this is a good idea. As practitioners, we are amongst them.
Whether the system is completely broken is doubtful. This is an extremely complex area of law. Whilst emotions can often run hot in any area of law, in family law, somehow, it is always worse. The raw emotion brought out by the breakdown of a relationship has long been recognised as amongst the most traumatic events anyone can face. Add children and property to the mix and it becomes a potent cocktail. Complicate it with allegations of domestic violence, child abuse, drug and alcohol use, financial fraud, withheld or incomplete disclosureinformation, and to be quite frank there are few people who can easily cope with the stress. Fewer who can afford the necessary legal support.
As the Australian Law Reform Commission is no doubt aware, there are no quick fixes to the Family Law Act, and little in the way of low hanging fruit. Looking after children, addressing family violence, and supporting families are key issues for this review. But no doubt upper most in their mind will be the efficiency of the system – because one thing everyone agrees on is that everything takes too long.
We also hope there is significant attention to the combative nature of some law firms. For example when a family law firm revels in the sobriquet “Pirhana of Pitt Street” there is something wrong, very wrong. We would support law that requires family lawyers to comprehensively explain all the non-court options to clients (as we do), to require clients proceeding to courtto be provided to the court. We all need to be more accountable for the costs our clients incur.
For a free first conference with a family lawyer, contact us through out web form, or call 6223 2400.
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