The Law Society of NSW welcomes the Federal Government's focus on the Family Law Courts' ability to provide accessible and affordable services to resolve family disputes.

President of The Law Society of NSW Pauline Wright said the Government's current initiatives would not, however, ease the significant delays currently experienced in the Family Law Courts in NSW or assist the current judges to reduce the backlog of cases.

Ms Wright called upon the Government to increase resources to be used for the appointment of judges in the Courts as a matter of urgency.

"The Family Law Courts are managing an increased number of complex matters and many matters involve allegations of family violence," she said. "Yet there remain a limited number of judges and financial resources for the administration of the court."

Ms Wright said the roll-out of parental management hearings, expected initially only at Parramatta and in relation to unrepresented litigants, would not reduce delays in Sydney.

The Federal Government's investment in family consultants was similarly unlikely to reduce delays and workload pressures.

Ms Wright said while there was currently a full complement of Family Court and Federal Circuit Court judges in NSW, this was no longer sufficient.

An increase in the jurisdiction of the Courts to cover matters of surrogacy and same-sex and de facto relationships as well as an increase in the divorce rate and in the general population had added to pressures faced by the Courts.

"There have been delays in appointing judges to positions that become vacant as well as limited resources for the regional sitting of the courts that has added to the strain and led to a lack of continuity for matters," she said.

Ms Wright said the Law Society welcomed the Australian Law Reform Commission's review of the family law system, but this would not assist litigants in the Sydney and Parramatta Registries whose matters could take more than three years to resolve.

Media Contact

The Law Society of NSW, Marianna Papadakis T: 02 9926 0288 | M: 0413 440 699 | media@lawsociety.com.au

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