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Former judge points finger at ‘aggressive and combative’ lawyers for exhaustive court cases

Marriage breakdowns are never easy, and family law court disputes can be one of the most stressful experiences in life, dragging on for months, if not years.

With ballooning costs, the process can take an enormous emotional toll, especially if kids are involved.

And the Family Court is facing significant delays, with close to a year’s long worth of cases in backlog.

But without an influx of government funding and only 70 Federal Circuit judges, not much will improve.

Today, a handful of judges have come out pointing the finger at Family Court lawyers, saying they’re partly to blame for cases dragging out.

Recently retired Federal Circuit Judge Stephen Scarlett, says the problem is predominately in Sydney, claiming lawyers here are more aggressive and combative.

He tells Deborah Knight during his time, “there was a more aggressive culture than you saw in other states, or even in others registries in New South Wales like Parramatta”.

“There seems to be a win-at-all-costs mentality.

“Not all of them, but there’s certainly some of them.”

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Mr Scarlett says the lengthy backlog is due to courts being “chronically under-resourced”.

“In particular, the Federal Circuit Court going right back to 18 years ago… it was never given the resources by the government to do its job properly.”