THE Federal Magistrates Court hears more than 80 per cent of parenting disputes that end up in court but does not routinely screen for family violence, say the authors of an evaluation of changes to family law.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies evaluation says there were 10,987 applications for orders involving children in the Federal Magistrates Court in 2008-09, compared with 2086 in the Family Court.

It said while the Family Court conducted assessment interviews with parents that included screening for family violence, this did not happen in the Federal Magistrates Court, which had insufficient resources and heavy workloads.

But Chief Federal Magistrate John Pascoe says the court's processes were designed to identify family violence and child abuse as early as possible.

The Howard government commissioned the report to assess changes to family law introduced in 2006. The federal government released the 379-page report in January and found that the changes emphasising greater shared parental responsibility were overall working well. But this critical issue went under the radar.

''Issues relating to family violence and child abuse are brought to the attention of the [Federal Magistrates] court by the parties, or the family consultant or independent children's lawyer where these professionals are involved,'' the report says. ''No routine screening takes place by FMC personnel, although parties have the opportunity to bring safety concerns to the attention of registry staff.''

But the report notes that at the end of last year the court was allocated more resources.

Co-author of the evaluation, Dr Matthew Gray, said one reason the Federal Magistrates Court did not routinely screen for family violence was lack of resources.

''Cases with family violence are being missed throughout the family law system, including in the court, and the better and more sophisticated the screening for violence, the more likely it is that the cases will be identified and dealt with appropriately,'' he said.

A spokeswoman for Chief Federal Magistrate Pascoe said the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court had difference processes that took into account the different case mix and volumes.

''The Federal Magistrates Court is a high-volume court with a spectrum of matters, including complex ones,'' she said. ''The Family Court's work is now confined to the most difficult and troublesome matters.''

She said every party to an application in the Federal Magistrates Court had to file a supporting affidavit setting out family violence, substance abuse, mental illness and child abuse. In the year to June 2009, 713 Notice of Abuse forms filed were also filed in the court.

''Federal magistrates are aware that for a variety of reasons allegations may not be raised and routinely explore the presence of risk issues at the first court date,'' she said. Extra resources were being used to explore family violence early.