Children's Cases Program
The Family Court has chosen to meet its requirements under the amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 by changing the way it hears disputes involving children. The Children's Cases Program (CCP) has been the protocol for all cases involving children in the Family Court since 1 July 2006.
The CCP is a court process that adopts a significantly less adversarial procedure for hearing children's cases. The essential differences (and advantages) of the CCP process are:
- One Judge is assigned to manage and preside over all court events for that case.
- The Judge is in charge of the case and plays the leading role in relation to the conduct of any applications or hearings. The Judge may identify any issues to be determined, the evidence to be given, the way evidence is received and the manner in which the hearing is conducted. To this effect:
- Significant resources are made available at a very early stage of the matter. For example, a family report is often ordered at the first court appearance.
- Evidence by the parties is given not only by way of an affidavit but also through oral evidence and the completion of a questionnaire.
- The issues in dispute between the parties are defined at the first court hearing and continue to be defined on an ongoing basis.
- The Judge has the capacity to speak directly with the parties in addition to relying upon affidavit material and oral evidence.
- The application of the Evidence Act 1995 (Cth) and Family Law Rules 2004 will be at the discretion of the Judge.
- The Family Court setting will be informal with the layout being determined by the Judge in a manner that he/she considers best meets the needs of the case. The parties must report all alternative dispute resolution to the Judge.
The CCP ensures that there is not one climactic trial but a continuum. The case progresses with the assistance of judicial direction, without complex rules of evidence and formal procedures and directly involves the parties. The CCP process is more child focused and better identifies and meets the objectives of the Family Law Act 1975, improves case management and allows clients to take responsibility for their case.
To find out more, please contact our Family Law team.