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T’othersider- watching Family Law changes in WA

In early December 2020 the Federal Parliament debated the Government’s bill to abolish the specialist, stand-alone Family Court and merge it into a generalist Federal Circuit Court. There were many references by those opposing the bill to the advantages of the integrated Family Court of Western Australia over the changes proposed by the government.

It may not be widely known, but Western Australia is the only Australian state with its own Family Court, with 2 divisions which combine the functions of a superior court and a lower court and serviced by a single administration.  We will keep you up to date as to changes to our Family Court, but in the interim we can report that the Family Law Amendment (Western Australia De Facto Superannuation Splitting and Bankruptcy) Bill 2019 passed both houses on 3 December 2020.

This Bill will give effect to a referral of power from Western Australia to the Commonwealth in respect of superannuation matters in family law proceedings for separating de facto couples in Western Australia. The Bill will also extend federal bankruptcy jurisdiction to the Family Court of Western Australia to hear bankruptcy proceedings concurrently with family law proceedings, where appropriate. The commencement date for the Family Law Amendment (Western Australia De Facto Superannuation Splitting and Bankruptcy) Act 2020 will be fixed by future Proclamation.

On my first visit to WA in 1983, my wife and I fell in love with southern WA and would have readily transferred to WA if Mullane & Lindsay had an office there – even after the friendly t’othersider jibes.  For many years we have acted for clients who have resided for lengthy periods of their relationship in Western Australia, and been impacted by differences in the laws.  I welcome the De Facto Superannuation Splitting changes await their proclamation

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