There are times when it may be necessary to attend the family court of Australia to deal with matters that relate to your family. Understanding the role and purpose of the family court will provide you with a foundation of knowledge that will allow you to proceed with confidence. There are always alternatives to court where an agreement can be made without the court proceedings. If you cannot reach an agreement, then the family law court may be the only way forward.
What Is the Family Law Court?
In Australia, the family law court encompasses specialist judges and staff whose sole purpose is to support families in resolving complex legal disputes.
What Issues Form the Basis Of Family Court
The family court of Australia focuses its attention on family law matters, which includes:
a. Divorce and Annulments – which refers to the termination or cancellation of a marriage.
b. Parenting disputes – relating to custody of children due to a marriage break down, divorce or separation. Looking at child welfare, allegations of abuse and family violence, and mental health issues.
c. Division of property – This can be referred to as equitable distribution, and it looks at the Division of property due to death, divorce, or dissolution of marriage. Division of property includes complex financial and superannuation problems.
The Federal Circuit Court of Australia
If you have not reached an agreement outside of the court, the Federal Circuit Court is the next step. This is where most family law matters are heard. The cases that go to the Federal Circuit Court are less complex than those that will be seen by the Family Law Court. If you want to get a divorce, then this is the court to which you will make an application.
It is always advisable to know your options. It is generally better for all the parties involved to sort parenting agreements without going to court. If the case must progress to court, the process will be expensive, time-consuming, and incredibly stressful. There are support people and agencies who can assist with the creation of a parenting agreement. The Australian Government provides considerable information in this regard.
To take the family law matters before the court, you are required to show that you have made attempts to resolve the issues and that these efforts have not been successful. The court is a last resort. There are different requirements depending on the issue you are working to resolve. For example:
1. Care of Children – If you cannot agree on who will care for your children and the time children will spend with each parent, you will more than likely need to attend Family Dispute Resolution before you head to court. Dispute Resolution through family mediation allows people in conflict to work to resolve issues with a neutral person as a facilitator. Attending is generally not negotiable, so if for some reason you do not feel you can attend, you need to seek legal advice.
2. Divorce or Consent Orders – You can apply for these without attending Family Dispute Resolution. There is a handbook called Parenting orders: what you need to know, Published by the Australian Government that will provide useful information for you if you are a parent separating from a partner. It gives practical advice that focuses on the children’s best interests.
Seek some legal advice and find a lawyer to represent you. You can represent yourself, but this can be quite challenging. If you chose to represent yourself, you would be referred to as a self-represented litigant.
Guidance and advice can make the family law process a little easier for you, particularly regarding the court with which you should file your application. Most cases are filed with the Federal Circuit Court. It is only the more complex of matters that are filed in the Family Court of Australia. Consent orders are also filed with the Family Court of Australia. Although you may believe your situation is complex, it is worth seeing a lawyer to gain advice.
If you live in Western Australia, you will need to apply to the Family Court of Western Australia.
If you are struggling with family issues, then there is help at hand. There will be support services in your area that you can locate by visiting the Government Family Court website. Before you head to court with your concerns, you must attempt to find ways to reach an agreement that is satisfactory for all parties. If this cannot occur then, it is advisable to seek advice. The Family Court of Australia, along with the Federal Circuit court, hears cases throughout Australia. The Federal Circuit Court deals with most issues while the Family Court assesses the most complex of cases.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do you contact the family law court?
You can make inquiries by calling or emailing the National Enquiry Centre (NEC) on 1300 352 000. They offer information and brochures along with procedural advice. They will be able to tell you about community support services in your area.
- Where can I find further information?
You can visit the family law court website, which provides information on all areas of the family. You can also contact the NEC.