Delay in Labour’s challenge to new divorce tax

Moves by the Coalition to introduce hikes in fees for both the Family and Federal Circuit Court were recently rejected by the Senate amidst claims that they were using “family breakdown as a cash cow.”

The Government has since introduced almost identical reforms through the Governor-General (thus avoiding Senate scrutiny). An appeal from Labour to the Federal Court has recently been adjourned, meaning that the new fee increases will continue being in force for the time being.

Potential family law litigants ought to be concerned by the fee hikes. Increases under the new laws will see Divorce application fees rise from $845 to $1200 in both the Family and Federal Circuit Court (a 42% rise). Although the Circuit Court largely deals with the same matters as the Family Court, its rules and procedures are less formal; this presents a generally quick and cheaper option for family law litigants. The new price hike however, may outweigh the procedural advantages that the Federal Circuit Court offers, and discourage divorce lawyers from submitting applications for their clients altogether.  

With no clear indication that the fee hike will be defeated, quality legal representation in family law matters has never been more important. Proper legal assistance will help alleviate emotional and financial stress on litigants by ensuring that optimal settlements are reached as efficiently as possible.