Family Law Matters to be Affected by 2015 Federal Budget Measures
Posted: 18th May 2015
Posted in: News
Posted by: Dean Evans, Partner
2015 Federal Budget measures will hit separated families in the hip pocket – but won’t give rise to flow-on effect for court resources
The 2015 Federal Budget measures are going to include increases to fees payable in family law matters, so as to generate a further $87.7 million in revenues for the Government.
The highest increase is mooted to be a near doubling of the filing fees for Applications for Divorce (already $845).
Our feeling is that separating couples are already juggling the financial costs of separation, when their incomes are likely not to be changing except by diminution yet their expenses effectively double as result of one household instantly becoming two, resulting in two homes, two sets of utilities accounts and increased expenses all round.
It already costs the Applicant in a Divorce Application $845 to meet the filing fee, before getting any legal advice or meeting any legal costs involved in preparing an Application for Divorce, meeting the costs of a Process Server to serve the other party with the Application or travelling to the Court for the hearing.
Of significantly greater concern is that the additional revenue raised will not be fully returned to provide funding for the Federal Circuit Court of Australia or the Family Court of Australia so as to provide more resources, more judges and to improve services available to litigants.
With parties usually waiting significantly more than 12 to 18 months to have a Trial and then up to 2 years to receive the trial Judge’s Judgment, if a greater imposte was to be laid at the feet of litigants, it appears reasonable to assume that allocation of the revenues raised could occur in a way which relieves the pressure on overloaded Judges.
Media reports indicate that of the $87.7 million projected budgetary returns, $30 million will go towards renovating the Court buildings, $25.5 million will go to streamlining the Courts (which sounds like cost cutting measures as opposed to increased funding to achieve a better working model) and a massive $35.2 million returns to Commonwealth revenues without allocation (become administered revenue of the Government). It is quite possible that some of the funding will go towards domestic violence, but given the amounts announced, it seems that not all has been applied there either.
We used to have the view that the filing fees being remitted would fund the Court, but this was clarified recently by one of the Court staff who lamented that the Court staff ‘wished’ that that was the case.
Please, if you are affected by this or have the view that the revenue raising exercise should benefit the Courts by the allocation of resources to them, take the time to hit up your Federal Member of Parliament on this topic.
Many thanks for reading.