Family Court Fees

The Dom Post editorial:

The Government’s review discussion paper also argues that although the state has a clear role in protecting children and vulnerable adults, its role in resolving what are private parenting squabbles should be reduced. It says, “The court should promote children’s welfare, not parents’ rights”. Neither the Greens nor Labour can fault that, surely? The discussion paper considers, too, whether Domestic Violence Act matters should properly become the preserve of the Domestic Violence Courts, and asks whether opening hearings to greater public scrutiny might make the courts more transparent and the parties more accountable for what is said in court.

Chief Family Court judge Peter Boshier notes the trivial matters that, under present arrangements, reach the bench time and again. “Answers are sought from judges”, he says, “on everything from choice of school to choice of surnames”. Thus, the new fee regime is the least of Family Court issues that should worry Opposition MPs and family lawyers. If its processes are being abused, the family law community has a responsibility not only to ensure that taxpayers get value for the millions they invest in this branch of law, but also that children, not their parents, are front and centre in the process. A Family Court hearing should surely be a last resort.

I think the emphasis on the Family Court being a last resort for feuding couples is the correct one. Having taxpayers pay for court rulings on which school a kid goes to is bad for us, but also bad for the kid that his or her parents have no incentive to sort such disputes out themselves.

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