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The Lighthouse Project is a recently announced pilot program implemented by the Federal Circuit and Family Courts in order to assess the level of risk when applications are filed that seek parenting orders only. The pilot program is currently being trialled in the Brisbane, Adelaide, and Parramatta registries.

It would appear the calls for a more streamlined and efficient approach have been heard by the Courts when it comes to dealing with and assessing cases that have significant risk and family violence.

Upon an Application being made for parenting orders only, a screening process will be carried out. Once completed, if the application is deemed to be considered “high risk,” the application will be placed in the Evatt List.

The Evatt List is an initiative of the Court where a highly qualified team of Judges, Registrars, Family Consultants and Court staff are allocated to help progress a case that is considered to be “high risk” [1].  Applicants will be included in the Evatt List if:

  1. The application is for only parenting orders; and
  2. The applicant has completed the Family DOORS Triage Risk screening and your matter is considered “high risk”.

The screening process is an online questionnaire which is completed when lodging an Application or Response in relation to parenting matters. The questions are framed to illicit only a “yes” or “no” response and takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete. The answers to the questionnaire will produce a category of risk i.e. low, moderate or high [2].

The following is a time frame of what the Court envisages the Evatt List will look like once an Application is deemed “high risk” [3]:

  1. Within 3-5 days of screen
    • Before First Court Event
      • The Registrar reviews the case to confirm it appropriate for the List, order a report from a Family Consultant, and gather any information for the Court might need to make a decision, for example, documents from the Police, other courts or the child welfare department.
  2. Within 8 – 12 weeks
    • First Court Event
      • The Judge or Senior Registrar will address any urgent issues and decide what evidence and information needs to be gathered to get the case ready for trial
  3. Within 3 – 6 months
    • Second Court Event
      • A plan will be made for the trial and directions made to get the case ready.
      • This may include a specialised report being ordered by the Court. Parties, through negotiation, are able to agree on an expert. However, if an agreement cannot be reached then a Judge or Senior Registrar may make a decision which will be binding on the parties.
      • Family Dispute Resolution might be considered if it is safe to do so.
  4. Within 6 – 9 months
    • Compliance check
      • A Registrar will check that the evidence, any specialised report, and/or other information is filed or available to the Court in readiness for the trial.
      • If the case is ready, it will be referred to a trial. If it is not ready for a trial, it will be referred to the Judge.
  5. Within 9 – 12 months
    • Trial before the Judge
    • Trials in the Evatt List are given priority with a view of a final hearing taking place within 9 to 12 months of the initial screening. However, in order to ensure this occurs it is important that you comply with the Court’s directions.
    • In parenting matters, Division 12A of the Family Law Act 1975 allows for:
      • The Court process to be less formal
      • The Judge or Senior Registrar can decide how the case should be managed
      • The rules of evidence do not apply strictly in the Evatt List

The Evatt List, while still a very new initiative, appears to be a positive step in the right direction by the Courts to ensure that families going through separation in a “high risk” environment may likely have their matter finalised far quicker, given the urgency of their respective situation.

For more information on the Evatt List please visit

http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au//wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/reports-and-publications/publications/family-law/evatt-guide-parties

If you have any further queries or otherwise wish to discuss your family law matter with us, please contact Men’s Legal Service on (07) 3439 8874 or by email at [email protected].


[1] http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au//wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/reports-and-publications/publications/family-law/evatt-guide-parties

[2] http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au//wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/reports-and-publications/publications/family-law/evatt-guide-parties

[3] http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au//wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/reports-and-publications/publications/family-law/evatt-guide-parties

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