Australian Family Law deals with laws relating to marriage, separation, arrangements for children; property settlements; financial support for family members; laws regulating family behaviour and laws protecting the welfare of children.
In family law, most laws are Commonwealth laws and are dealt with by Federal Courts. This is because the Australian constitution grants the Commonwealth power to deal with marriage, divorce and matrimonial causes.
The most relevant legislation for family law is the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).
Some laws are state based and are dealt with by State Courts or by tribunals. State laws that are relevant to family law are: domestic violence legislation; child protection legislation; adoption and surrogacy arrangements for children.
A great deal of information about the Federal Courts – The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court can be found on the internet http://familylawcourts.gov.au
Most family law cases under federal law go to the Federal Circuit Court. In general, it is more complex matters that are heard by the Family Court of Australia.
The costs of Family Law can often be debilitating and many litigants will choose not to be legally represented because of a lack of funding. State based Legal Aid offices may be to those people who meet their criteria – funding and merit tests. Community legal centres also offer advice but rarely representation in court.
One of the parties to a marriage / defacto relationship must be an Australian Citizen; is ordinarily resident in Austrlia; or is present in Australia on the date on which the application is filed or otherwise made.
Family Lawyers can: provide advice on the the processes and likely outcomes; negotiate with the other party through direct negotiation, attend round table conferences; represent clients in family dispute resolution/mediation/legal aid conferences; prepare agreements through consent orders; parenting plans; financial agreements, child support agreements; represent clients at court.