Queensland Law Society

Family law reform – not everyone wins

Queensland Law Society today (DEC 13) attended a public hearing to discuss proposed changes to the family law court system, explaining that the changes would not assist Australian families.

QLS President Ken Taylor and Chair of the QLS Domestic and Family Violence Committee Deborah Awyzio raised key issues in the proposed merger, saying that the changes would not improve the current system.

“The Society supports measures that will improve the Family Court system, however, this merger will not achieve the desired outcomes,” Mr Taylor said.

“The proper determination of family law matters requires a high level of skill and extensive knowledge of a wide range of issues and areas of substantive law.”

Mr Taylor spoke on behalf of the Society’s 13,000 solicitors, and said he was concerned that a lack of expertise in family law could result in erroneous decisions and poorer outcomes for families.

“It is a significant risk that the quality and propriety of family law decisions will be compromised where determinations are made by judicial officers without family law expertise,” he said.

Ms Awyzio spoke on the importance of promoting better outcomes for families, disagreeing with several proposed outcomes of the merger.

“In our view, the Society does not agree that the structural changes will produce efficiencies or reduce delay or that the changes will reduce complexity or legal costs in the family law system,” she said.

The Society representatives urged the Government to consider the Bills further and not implement the proposed reform at the present time.

“The Government should defer further consideration for the Bills until after receipt and proper consideration of the final Australian Law Reform Commission Report,” Ms Awyzio said.

The Society has long warned that Australia’s family law courts were in crisis, calling for further resources to the courts to avoid lengthy delays for trial dates and judgments.

“We cannot expect our judges to perform miracles – they require adequate resourcing,” Mr Taylor said.

“The solution is not this merger of the courts, it’s ensuring that the correct level of experience and specialisation is paired with an adequate number of judges.

“The Society supports Australian families and will continue to advocate for the best outcomes in our family courts, rather than the cheapest and quickest option.”