The Family Law Practitioners’ Association of Queensland (FLPA) is calling for more resources, more federal magistrates, and more staff to cope with a workload that has increased by almost 10 per cent since 2007.
According to the recent Federal Magistrates Court Annual Report 2010-11, family law applications have grown from 76,881 to 2006-2007 to 84,094 in 2010-11, an increase of 9.3 per cent.
The number of cases waiting for judgment has increased by 21 per cent in this same time.
Brisbane has 11 federal magistrates. Brisbane is regarded as one of the busiest Federal Magistrates Court registries in Australia.
FLPA president Deborah Awyzio said the increased demand on the courts and the workload pressures on Brisbane’s federal magistrates was prolonging the time that families were involved in litigation.
She said this was concerning as research suggested the most damaging part of children being involved in litigation was exposure to conflict between their parents.
“It is not uncommon for each federal magistrate to have more than 25 matters listed before them in one day,” Ms Awyzio said.
“The Federal Magistrates are working very hard to resolve matters; they are simply under-resourced for the work they are expected to do.
“Many federal magistrates in Brisbane sit outside normal court hours to try and get through their case load.”
Ms Awyzio said due to the number of matters federal magistrates were required to deal with in their lists, judgments were not being delivered within the expected three-month time period after the trial concluded.
“In many cases, the circumstances of the people involved in these cases change during this waiting period,” she said.
“They might be in a new relationship, have a new job, or want to live somewhere different.
“Having an outstanding matter awaiting judgment for this time can significantly impact on these people’s lives.”
For further information, please contact:
Merrett Pye on 0422 096 049 or Caroline Thurlow on 0414 565 575
The Family Law Practitioners’ Association of Queensland is the leading professional association for the family law sector in Queensland.