The Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court (the Courts) recently announced the appointment of seven Registrars as part of an ongoing and extensive recruitment process. The appointments are as follows:
Victoria - Registrars Maria Kourtis and Cara Litterick
Queensland - Registrars Gerardine Hibberd, Myles Walker and Samuel Gray
New South Wales - Registrars Lynda Maitland and Sandra Soden
These appointments supplement a number of recent internal and external appointments of Senior Registrars and Registrars. Details of previous Senior Registrar and Registrar appointments are available from the websites of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
These appointments will provide support to the Courts’ judges and will be essential in implementing government-funded initiatives including the Lighthouse Project – a ground-breaking and innovative initiative in the way in which the Courts will screen for risk and focus on public health and improved outcomes for families involved in the family law system. Another key initiative includes a simplified process to manage family law property disputes for cases where the value of the net property pool is under $500,000, this project is known as the PPP500 and is currently being piloted in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Parramatta.
Biographical information of recently appointed Registrars:
Ms Maria Kourtis will be based in the Melbourne Registry and is appointed in the role of Registrar. Maria comes to the Court after many years practising as a senior lawyer at McKean Park. With over 18 years’ experience as a family lawyer in private practice, including 12 years as an Independent Children’s Lawyer, in that time, she has represented the interests of parties and children in a range of complicated matters in all areas of family law.
Ms Kourtis has developed a high level of experience and understanding of all areas of family law from complex financial cases to parenting cases involving serious allegations of abuse. Up until her appointment as Registrar she was the Chair of the Family Law Section Executive Committee and a member of the Courts’ Practice Committee and Chair of the Family Law Education Working Group at the LIV.
Ms Cara Litterick will be based in the Melbourne Registry and is appointed in the role of Registrar. With over 10 years of experience, Ms Litterick is a highly skilled practitioner in family law. Prior to coming to the Courts, Ms Litterick has spent over 7 years as a solicitor with Roberts Beckwith Partners and, prior to that, 3 years with Bayside Solicitors. With a broad cross-section of experience, Ms Litterick understands the unique nature of family law matters and the challenges facing litigants who have to engage with the Court system to resolve their disputes.
Ms Litterick is recognised by her peers as a highly capable and down to earth practitioner, who is a persuasive and confident communicator. Her ability to adopt a common sense approach and distil the key issues in a dispute has been paramount to her success on behalf of clients. Ms Litterick also has almost a decade of community-based volunteer work with the Peninsula Community Legal Centre and will bring her broad skills to the Courts in both parenting and property matters.
Mr Myles Walker will be based in the Brisbane Registry and is appointed in the role of Registrar. Mr Walker completed his Applied Masters in Applied Family Law in 2012 and achieved accreditation from the Queensland Law Society as a specialist in family law in 2017. In 2019, Mr Walker was listed in Doyle’s Guide as a recommended parenting lawyer for regional Queensland and in 2020 as a rising star in family law for Queensland.
Having completed a graduate diploma in Family Dispute Resolution, Mr Walker has met the requirements to qualify under the National Mediation Standards as an accredited mediator and has completed the Bond University mediation training to become an accredited mediator and his skills and training will position him well in undertaking all of the responsibilities of a Registrar, including assisting parties in resolving their disputes.
Ms Gerardine Hibberd will be based in the Brisbane Registry and is appointed in the role of Registrar. Ms Hibberd has almost 14 years of experience as a family law practitioner. Over the last four years Ms Hibberd has practised exclusively as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP), and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience relating to family dispute resolution in complex, culturally diverse and high risk family law disputes.
Prior to her work as an FDRP, Ms Hibberd practised in family law for six years in cases primarily funded by Legal Aid. Ms Hibberd’s unique experience in this area brings extensive knowledge of vulnerable clients presenting with significant needs in a family law context. In conjunction with her work in family law, Ms Hibberd has been engaged as a sessional academic at the University of Southern Queensland and Queensland University of Technology, teaching in a variety of undergraduate subjects in law. Ms Hibberd has met the requirements to qualify under the National Mediator Accreditation Standards.
Mr Samuel Gray will be based in the Brisbane Registry and is appointed in the role of Assistant Registrar. Mr Gray brings to the Courts considerable experience in family law both as a legal practitioner and as a mediator in his own practice. Mr Gray has met the requirements to qualify under the National Mediator Accreditation Standards and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.
He is trained in collaborative family law practice and is passionate about the exercise and implementation of alternate dispute resolution pathways for parties in family law matters. With Mr Gray’s background and experience as a mediator, he will also take on a position in a cohort of National ADR Registrars, supporting Anne-Marie Rice, Senior Registrar and Executive Director Dispute Resolution.
Ms Lynda Maitland will be based in the Sydney Registry and is appointed in the role of Registrar. Since 2008, Ms Maitland has practiced exclusively in family law, predominantly at Legal Aid NSW, but also in private practice. Ms Maitland is an accredited specialist in family law, a member of the NSW Law Society’s Family Law Committee, and Family Law Specialist Accreditation Advisory Committee.
Ms Maitland’s litigation experience spans complex parenting and property matters, and she will draw on her considerable experience as an Independent Children’s Lawyer, appearing in matters in the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court. Ms Maitland has worked in various areas of Legal Aid NSW, including the Early Intervention Unit, Child Support Service, family litigation and most recently as a Senior Solicitor in the Appeals and Complex Litigation Unit. Before becoming a lawyer, Ms Maitland worked in banking for over 11 years, including in international operations, Treasury Foreign Exchange distribution and risk management. Ms Maitland also has experience in policy development, working as a lawyer in the Policy Division of the Regulation Directorate of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.
Ms Sandra Soden has been appointed to the role of Registrar. She will carry out her Registrar duties supporting a number of locations in NSW, namely the Parramatta, Wollongong and Sydney Registries. Ms Soden has over 12 years’ experience in family law. Ms Soden holds Specialist Accreditation in Family Law, a Masters in Applied Family Law and is an Accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.
She is also trained in Collaborative Law practice and in Parenting Coordination. Ms Soden has been the Principal of her own firm in Western Sydney for the past 6 years. Ms Soden understands the impacts of separation and litigation on families and will bring an enthusiastic energy to the Courts. Ms Soden has a genuine interest in helping to progress matters as quickly and efficiently as possible whilst assisting parties to settle their matters amicably.