Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Calling all people stuck in the Family Law Courts queue: if you're in Queensland

I have lost count of the number of lawyers and social commentators, starting with the chief of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, Chief Judge John Pascoe, who have decried the delays in the Family Law Courts- the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Quite simply, there aren't enough judges, and delays in going to court are getting worse. Some of my colleagues have said that the system is close to collapse.

There is nothing quite like appearing before a Federal Circuit Court judge who explains the horrendous delays, and then seeing the horrified mums and dads who worry about their kids. I have heard one judge say, several times, something like: "Look, I don't like the delays. We don't have enough judges. I have had to move around the country filling in for judges who are sick. If you want to fix the problem, go and speak to your local Federal member."

Well now the Queensland Law Society wants to fight back. Quite simply the President of the Society, criminal lawyer Bill Potts has heard enough. The Society has employed a journalist, Tony Keim. Tony is a qualified lawyer who many years ago decided that he would rather be a journalist- but then wrote many stories to do with the law.

If you are from Queensland or you have a case before the Family Law Courts and you are thoroughly cheesed off about how slow the court process is, please contact me: by email or 07 3221 9544 and I'll put you in contact with Tony Keim so that you can tell your story.

If there is one thing I know about politicians- they listen to people's stories. It's easy to hear lawyers complain on behalf of their clients and say:"Well, they're from the big end of town. Lawyers always complain. What's new?" But for a dad to complain that he is only getting supervised time with his kids, without the benefit of being heard at a trial, and then waiting FOREVER, politicians and the media listen to that stuff. Or a mum who feels that no one has listened to her case, and she is doing it tough waiting for a property settlement because her ex won't play ball.

Of course there will be limitations with what can be told. There are secrecy provisions of the Family Law Act which will mean there will need to be some anonymity- but the media love powerful stories. If you have been stuck in the queue for far too long, despairing when a court will ever listen to you, please call or email me and I'll put you in contact with Tony. You deserve to be heard.

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