The Federal Government has committed funding to women and children in the family law system through the 2022-2023 Federal Budget. Matthew Beckmans, a Senior Lawyer and Accredited Specialist, takes a look at the Federal Government’s commitment to the family law system.
Brief takeaways from the 2022-2023 Federal Budget include:
- $87.9 million over four years to assist families to resolve their family law matters in a more timely way and improve the safety and accessibility of the family law system. This will be achieved through continuing and expanding the family safety risk screening and specialised case management pilot known as the Lighthouse Project, as well as enhance culturally responsive support for First Nations Australians;
- $1.2 million over four years granted to the not-for-profit Court Network to support the roll-out of Court Network volunteers operating at the Federal Circuit and Family Court;
- $52.4 million over four years to Legal Aid Commissions around Australia to meet the expected demand for support under the Family Violence and Cross Examination of Parties Scheme;
- $22 million over five years from 2021-22 to support the placement of state child protection and policing officials in the family law courts across Australia to facilitate information sharing between the family law, child protection and family violence systems; and
- $16.5 million over two years from 2021-22 to support Legal Aid Commissions around Australia to meet the cost of legal representation, including independent children lawyers ordered by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. This is part of the Government’s enhanced case management arrangements for family law proceedings.
The Budget paper also note that from 1 April 2022, superannuation assets will be visible in family law matter to enable the information sharing pathway between the ATO and the Federal Circuit and Family Court. The Budget papers note that “This will help deliver fairer and more equitable outcomes for women going through separation proceedings by reducing the scope for former partners to under disclose their assets”. Matthew Beckman’s recent article in relation to this significant advancement can be found here.
The Budget papers also argue that the funding will assist to achieve outcomes such as:
- Deliver just, safe, efficient and timely resolution of family law and general federal law matters;
- Appropriate response to risk and family violence and protecting vulnerable parties, including women and children;
- Maximise the role of family law registrars to ensure they provide specialist services to families and to support judges to hear matters earlier;
- Enhance the court’s ability to conduct more court hearings and provide greater access to justice for rural and regional Australia;
- Expand the provision of dispute resolution within the Court, utilising registrars and Court Child Experts, to free up the court’s pathway for more cases to be heard quickly and cost effectively. Continue the Lighthouse Project to support families who may have experienced family violence and other risks;
- Continue to implement the Priority Property Pool 500 Pilot to provide a quicker, cheaper and simpler way of resolving family law property disputes involving small property pools; and
- Work towards enhanced collaboration with agencies and service providers to facilitate information sharing when risks are alleged in family law proceedings.
Overall, the Federal Budget appears to continue its commitment to families accessing the family law system and in particular, protecting those most vulnerable who find themselves navigating the family law system.
A link to the Budget Statement can be found here.
If you require assistance in relation to your family law property settlement, Matthew Beckmans can provide you with advice tailored to you and your individual circumstances. Matthew and our team of Specialist Family Lawyers continue to work remotely and are available for telephone and Skype/ Zoom appointments. Our Family & Relationship Law team is here to help you navigate difficult issues during these difficult and unprecedented times.