The Law Council of Australia has called for the government to scrap plans to introduce ‘Parenting Management Hearings’ as an alternative to traditional court hearings for family law disputes.
The twelve million-dollar program has been described by the government as a ‘fast, informal, non-adversarial dispute resolution mechanism’. However, the LCA has, in staunch critique, labelled the proposal as being no more than an ‘untested social experiment’.
The proposed ‘Parenting Management Hearings’ are designed to involve a panel of family lawyers, psychologists, social workers and child development experts that will hear parental disputes and assist self-represented parties in resolving family issues.
President of the Law Council of Australia, Morry Bailes, has questioned whether the funding could be better spent improving the existing family law system and current support services for vulnerable families. Removing these matters from the courts, Mr Bailes contends, may also raise significant risks for families.
“The making of decisions about matters such as where a child lives, with whom a child spends time, and how a child communicates with a parent, let alone questions of parental responsibility, are matters that are, and should remain, within the remit of judicial decision-making power of judges”, Mr Bailes said.
“The panel also creates yet another layer of complexity to the navigation of the family law legal system, and increases, rather than reduces, the risk to children and adults involved in family law disputes”.