The ACT Law Society has condemned fee hikes to the Family Court as hurting families when they are down.
In a statement issued on Friday (23 July), the ACT Law Society said the increased fees, which include a new daily hearing fee of $440 for matters before the Federal Magistrates Court (excluding the first day), would hurt separating families at a time of great hardship.
"For those people any court fee, no matter how small, can represent a real impediment to seeking help from a family court," said Athol Opas, president of the ACT Law Society. "It is unfair to make separating families pay more at a time of great stress and turmoil in their lives."
Additional fees, effective from 1 July, include increases for initiating an application ($155 to $243), fees for each hearing day ($534 to $608) and a new fee of $80 for an application for consent orders.
The new fee structure means the Federal Magistrates Court will continue to hear federal law matters, but the family law arm of the court will now operate as a general division of the Family Court.
"There are very few working parents and even fewer non-working parents who could, for example, find a $2000 cash payment to go to court," Opas said.