Family Law Update February 2021

Friday, 26 February 2021

Family Law Update February 2021

Welcome to the Law Society's Family Law Committee Update! These occasional emails will go out to members with an interest in family law when we have issues of note to report on.

Legal Aid ACT FDR Program open to private practice

Legal Aid ACT have approved a new initiative that will open the FDR program to the private profession for clients on a lower income.

The purpose of the new program is to give more separated families access to lawyer-assisted FDR and to help address long delays that families are experiencing in the community sector for FDR.

Federal Circuit Court and Family Court notices

Canberra Registry

The Canberra Registry has recently welcomed Andrea Evans as a Senior Registrar. Senior Registrar Evans has also been appointed to the role of Executive Director of National Registrar Operations.

Senior Registrar Evans will be sitting in Canberra approximately one week per month hearing interim matters. Judicial delegations allow SR Evans to determine both interim parenting and financial matters. These sittings will include both Federal Circuit Court and Family Court matters. SR Evan’s first list will occur in the last week of February 2021. Matters will be listed initially for a call over at 9.30am, and each matter will then be given a marking for later that day. The Senior Registrar’s lists are likely to be conducted in person, unless there is a formal request to attend via Microsoft Teams.

Federal Circuit Court

The Canberra Registry is also commencing a new Registrar’s Duty List which will be managed by Registrar Jennifer Crawley. This list will commence on 4 March 2021 and will incorporate first return listings for all Contravention matters, as well the Discrete Property List (DPL). The DPL has been piloted in a number of other Registries nationally. It is intended to alleviate some pressure on the dockets of the Judges by having all financial-only matters managed by the Registrar through to the completion of either a Conciliation Conference or private mediation. Matters that don’t resolve will then return to the Judge’s docket awaiting final hearing dates.

Practitioners with matters listed in the DPL should refer to the guidance on the Family Law Courts website. Some slight differences to note for the DPL in the Canberra registry are as follows:

  • 1. In the immediate short term, the list will take place by telephone, however the guidance remains that you should have your client present with you in your offices.
  • 2. It is unlikely that interim determinations requiring a Judge or Senior Registrar will take place on the same day, however matters will be prioritised based on urgency.
  • 3. Matters which are likely to be allocated a Conciliation Conference are those where the net non-superannuation assets are less than $500,000.

Family Court of Australia

Family Court of Australia matters are also starting to be listed more regularly before a Senior Register or Registrar, particularly in relation to compliance checks for filing directions, and management of disclosure issues. These matters are mostly likely to be listed by telephone or Microsoft Teams.

The purpose of these changes is to free up judicial time for matters that can only be done by a judge.

If you have any feedback in relation to the new arrangements set out above, or experiences you would like to share as the lists progress, please feel free to provide that to the Registry at