The Federal Magistrates Court of Australia 2007-08 annual report, tabled in Parliament on 20 October 2008, highlights the Courts continued growth in workload, judicial numbers and jurisdiction.
During 200708, 77 169 family law matters were filed in the Federal Magistrates Court, of which 44 362 were applications for divorce. The remaining 32 807 related to other areas of family lawprimarily applications for parenting orders to resolve disputes relating to parenting arrangements and orders to settle property disputes.
As the figures suggest, the Courts workload in family law is large. Nationally, federal magistrates in family law have an average of 74 new family law matters added to their docket each month and manage approximately 400 matters at any given time.
The Court continued to finalise matters promptly and efficiently. During 200708, 95.8 per cent of family law matters filed in the Court were finalised within 12 months and 85.9 per cent of matters were finalised within six months.
As well as family law, the Federal Magistrates Court has jurisdiction in other areas of federal law such as bankruptcy, human rights, copyright, migration, industrial law, trade practices, privacy, administrative and admiralty law.
In these areas of jurisdiction, 91.1 per cent were finalised within 12 months and 73.1 per cent finalised within six months.
The overall percentage of family law filings in the Court continued to increase. Seventy-nine per cent of all family law matters filed in the federal courts are now filed in the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia.
The Court sits extensively throughout Australiain metropolitan cities and regional locations. Federal magistrates regularly conduct circuits in non-metropolitan locations to benefit regional litigants, saving them (and their legal representatives) the burden of travelling to a major city for their matter to be dealt with.
The Court welcomed the appointment of six new federal magistrates in 200708.
Source: Federal Magistrates Court
Annual Report 2007-2008 Federal Magistrates Court of Australia
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