The Law Council of Australia (LCA) has called on the Federal Government to stop the closure of two family court registries by pledging more funds.
On Monday, the Family Law Section of the LCA warned that the Parramatta and Wollongong registries of the Federal Circuit Court could not continue to operate without additional Commonwealth funding.
“[This] is an outcome that would leave thousands of families in legal limbo,” according to the LCA.
Family law registries handle document lodging, mail and case listings, and offer procedural advice for the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Registries exist in all states and territories in Australia, with seven in NSW.
Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court John Pascoe has said he is ‘seriously considering’ the closure of the Court’s registries in Parramatta and Wollongong and will make his decision this week.
“Families involved in the family law system already face delays of more than three years in waiting for a judge to hear their case,” said Paul Doolan, the NSW solicitor representative for the Family Law Section of the LCA.
“Closure of the Parramatta and Wollongong registries would exacerbate the anguish and difficulties of those families and children. There has been a sustained failure by successive Federal Governments to appoint judicial officers to both the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court.”
Michael Kearney SC said cases would be transferred to Sydney in the event of a closure, creating further delays.
“The system is already under pressure [in Sydney] with delays for hearings regularly exceeding three years,” he said.