Applicable Courts

The Family Law Act set up two family Courts, The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The practice and procedure of these Courts are contained in the Family Court Rules 2004 and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Rules 2001.  The majority of applications can be filed in either Court however the Federal Circuit Court of Australia does not have powers to deal with adoption, property disputes when the value is over $700,000 (except with the consent of both parties) and issues concerning the validity of a marriage.  Applications for divorce should be filed with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The Federal Circuit Court of Australia aims to provide a quicker, cheaper service. 

The Department of Human Services governs all applications for financial support for children born on or after 1/10/89, children whose parents separated after 1/10/89 and children whose siblings were born after 1/10/89.

The approach taken by the Courts

The Courts apply the basic principles contained in the Family Law Act which encourages parties to reach agreement without the need for a Court hearing.  Except in limited circumstances, parties are required to demonstrate that they have tried other ways of resolving their differences before seeking the intervention of the Courts.  There are very good reasons for this.  Family breakdown is a difficult and stressful time for all concerned, particularly children.  Courts encourage the amicable settling of family affairs to save time, expense and further distress.  Legal fees can be expensive and Court proceeding are often time-consuming and stressful for all concerned.  If parties can reach mutual agreement then arrangements can be put in place much more quickly thus reducing the period of uncertainty and enabling parties to get on with their lives.  A mutual agreement has the advantage of making the participants feel that they have had some say in the decision making process rather than waiting for a Court decision. Agreements are far more likely to be adhered to if reached amicably and without resentment.

In the event that an application is lodged, Courts are not concerned with apportioning blame but rather with finding workable and fair solutions.  For this reason the principle of the no-fault divorce was established and the only ground for divorce in Australia is the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship which must be demonstrated by a 12 month separation. Courts make decisions on applications involving children on the basis that the best interests of the child is the main consideration.

For more information on Consent Orders in Australia call AussieLegal on 1300 728 200.