FCFCOA Merger - Your key event summary, highlights, and commentary



The FamilyProperty and Smokeball 2022 State of Family Law Conference roadshow event took place in June in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. A collaboration between some of the brightest expert legal minds in family law, including Judicial Registrars, senior family law practitioners, and local advocates, the Conferences brought together key learnings to further guide the practical processes of Family Lawyers across the East Coast of Australia working within the FCFCOA.


Topics covered at the Conference

  • The new FCFCA Act and harmonised rules - what practitioners need to know

  • The new state of family law - the rise of dispute resolution

  • Collaboration in Family Dispute Resolution

  • Practical insights as family lawyers and family mediators under the FCFCOA

  • Family Violence - Focus on Lighthouse Project and FASS

  • Technology and the future of family law practice


Here we present a brief overview of each speakers presentation, including a FREE accompanying Tips and Traps Summary to help guide you in your practice.


1. The Hon. Garry Watts AM spoke on the important aspects of the new FCFCOA Act and Rules that practitioners need to be aware of, including:

  • The overarching purpose of the Act: just resolution of disputes, as quickly, inexpensively and efficiently as possible.

  • Schedule 4 of the FCFCOA Rules 2021, and the delegated powers for judicial and senior registrars under this rule.

  • Pre-action procedures of dispute resolution, including the disclosure requirements.

  • Rules around cost notices.

  • Obtaining an order for litigation funding.

  • 2 step approach to interim property orders.

  • Cost orders against lawyers.

2. Clarissa Rayward, Director, Brisbane Family Law Centre, focused on the practical insights family law professionals need to navigate the FCFCOA including:

  • The cultural shifts with the family law system including; the new overarching purpose, the shift from an adversarial mindset to a problem solving mindset, and how to prepare clients for the new requirements

  • How to navigate the different FCFCOA stages

  • Discussed how to manage costs; billable hours vs fixed fees, cost estimates and cost notices

  • Highlighting recent tech innovations in family law; how to improve the client experience using technology using tech platforms such asFamilyProperty and Smokeball

  • The importance of wellness in law for practitioners, and the support services and resources available such as Mental Health First Aid

3. Professor Patrick Parkinson AM, Professor of Law, University of QLD, discussed changes in family law with a focus on technological advancements, plus:

  • How and why the legal profession is changing rapidly, especially in relation to legaltech

  • The benefits of using FamilyProperty during the intake process for financial and parenting disputes

  • How other products can be used for post order parenting communications such as 2 houses

  • Reasons for criticisms of recent technological developments.

4. Amanda Little, Principal Solicitor, Amanda Little & Associates, spoke on the cultural shift to facilitate just resolution of disputes as quickly, inexpensively, and efficiently as possible, with a focus on:

  • Different guiding principles she has used to navigate the FCFCOA

  • How to manage costs

  • Innovation and technology including the benefits of using Smokeball and FamilyProperty

  • Highlighting the importance of safeguarding your own mental health as a family law practitioner


5. Anna Baltins , Solicitor- in -Charge, Domestic Violence Unit, Legal Aid NSW, discussed family violence, with a particular focus on the Lighthouse Project and Family Advocacy and Support Services (FASS) as well as:

  • Recent research on the prevalence of domestic and family violence in the family courts

  • Advice on how to work with clients who have been affected by family violence

  • How to work with clients who are the alleged perpetrator of violence, and when to refer them to behaviour change programs, anger management, and individual counselling

  • How to screen for family violence and how to identify and assess risk

  • Safe & Together principles, and how to ensure safety throughout the family law process

  • The Lighthouse Project, Evatt list and Critical Incident list


6. Tayla Faignebaum, Director and Principal Lawyer, Nest Legal spoke on practical insights for family lawyers and mediators under the FCFCOA, including:

  • The cultural shift away from litigators to dispute resolutionists

  • The obligation for parties to seek opportunities for resolution

  • How to prepare clients for dispute resolution

  • The variety of ways to manage costs; cost notices, fixed-fee arrangements

  • Recent innovations and technology in family law practice


7. Joanne Law, Director of the Mediation Institute, gave us her take on collaboration in family dispute resolution, including:

  • Court is the exception not the norm

  • The diverse styles of dispute resolution

  • The importance of mediation and details the stages of mediation

  • The impact of Family violence and how that contributes to poor mental health of victims.




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What our clients are saying

“I enjoyed the day, talked to many people, learned more and built more confidence…thank you so so much. I still pinch myself at such a blessing.”


Josephine Byrnes-Luna - FDRP Mediator, Kirkman Family Law (via email)


“‘Had a great day at the State of Family Law Conference in Melbourne today. Thank you for putting on this event and to all speakers and attendees!”


David Gale - Solicitor, Falcone & Adams Lawyers (via Linkedin)


‘’It was great to attend a conference in person after such a long time! I found it insightful to hear some leading legal changes since the Federal Circuit and Family Court merger. A thank you to the Honourable Garry Watts AM, Senior Judicial Registrar McGrath, Anna Baltins and Amanda Little.’’


Sabrina Scheele - Solicitor, O’Loan Family Law (via Linkedin)


‘’I was so grateful to have met the (FamilyProperty) team. They were fantastic and attended to everyone. Such a blessing to have such a wonderful group of professionals!’’


Oumaru Kamara - Solicitor, Kamara & Associates (via Facebook)


‘’This week, Lana and I attended the 2022 State of Family Law Conference at the Hilton Sydney hosted by #smokeball and #familyproperty. Very well respected presenters speaking about the changes since the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia merger and relevant issues facing all those involved in the family law system.’’


Kate Marr- Solicitor, Marr Family Lawyers (via Facebook)


‘“ Loved Joanne’s presentation. All of them in fact! What a really great event! Looking forward to the videos and slides!”


Bonnie Douglas - FDRP Practitioner, Interact Support Incorporated (via FamilyMediators/FDRPs Facebook Group)







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