HUNTER family law expert Joplin Higgins has raised concerns about the federal government's proposal to merge the Family Court with the Federal Circuit Court.
The government has said the merger will make the system simpler and easier to navigate, plus enable more cases to be resolved each year.
Lawyer Ms Higgins, the director of Singleton-based Joplin Lawyers, said case times in the Family Court were too long, but that's because the system is underfunded.
"It's in crisis," Ms Higgins said.
"Each judge in Newcastle is carrying at least a 500 case load, we're one of the busiest jurisdictions in Australia.
"We need more judicial officers. If they need three staff each... that's where our government needs to be spending their money, the answer is right in front of us."
Ms Higgins said the circuit court was "the workhorse of our jurisdiction" but it and the Family Court played "significant but different roles in people's lives".
She said the Family Court's specialisation was its strength.
"You cannot be rushing the family law process," she said.
"That does not mean it needs to take two years, that's not what I'm saying, but when you have complex issues like drug abuse, mental health or neglect in a family, the court system needs to have all of the information... so that children at the end of the day are safe where they sleep of an evening."
Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon said 70 per cent of matters brought before the Family Court involve domestic violence.
"The consequences of reducing our ability to support and protect these people are incredibly serious indeed."
Ms Claydon said local lawyers tell her "consistently" of a "chronically underfunded system" and "constituents falling through the cracks, thrust into personal danger or stuck in limbo while their family situations deteriorate".