Debate Continues Over WA's Separate Family Court

Friday 8 June 2012 @ 9.05 a.m. | Legal Research

Family law specialists in Western Australia (WA) have defended the separately run family court system in WA saying according to press reports that it "is the envy of other states and has many advantages".

The court has come under criticism in recent times from family law practitioners like former premier Peter Dowding SC for the long delays experienced in the court where as the press reports "warring couples currently waiting almost two years, or 95 weeks, for a trial".

In defence of the court it has been argued that the problem in the WA Family Court "cannot be blamed on the separation from other states, but is instead due to a lack of resources". The view of the federal government as expressed by the Attorney-General, is that the federal government is committed to a national family law system.

The president of the Family Law Practitioners Association of WA, Rod Hooper, is quoted as saying that

"the separate model was the best in the country ... The model we have in WA, absent the resourcing issue, is the envy of everybody else. The simple reason is this: in all of the other states, when you want information from state authorities, it's a bit complicated to get it because you've got problems between state and federal departments. In the Family Court of WA, we've got an officer of the Department for Child Protection who works in the court, so if you want information and files it's immediately shared. It is the same with state police."

The Western Australia Government has put delays down not to  how the court operated but instead blames three judges becoming ill and the failure of the federal government to replace them quickly as the reason for the delay.

The separate court in WA looks like remains an exception to the national system and even with its current problems looks set to continue outside the national system.

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