What Is Family Law?

Family Law Questions and Answers

What Is Family Law?

Family Law Questions and Answers

What Is Family Law?

Family Law Questions and Answers

How Does Family Law Work?

The Australian Family Law system ‘works’ by trying to help people resolve legal aspects of family relationship issues, including family relationship breakdown.

It encourages and facilitates people to agree on arrangements without having to go to court.

What Is The Family Law System?

The Australian Family law system is primarily comprised of federal laws which are implemented by federal courts. These courts are the Family Law Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court.Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

What Is Included In Family Law?

Family Law includes:

  • divorce
  • property settlement after marriage
  • breakdown or de facto relationship breakdown
  • spouse maintenance for a party to a marriage
  • de facto partner maintenance for a party to a defacto relationship that has broken down
  • issues relating to parenting arrangements after separation

Is Family Law Public Or Private?


Family law disputes are ‘private’ as they are disputes between two parties. The state generally has no role in these disputes, apart from enacting the legislation that establishes the framework pursuant to which the disputes are to be resolved.

Is Family Court Open To The Public?


In most circumstances, courts and their decisions are accessible to members of the public. The policy of ‘open justice’ provides that all proceedings should be heard in open unless the court decides others. Contrary to this, family law is a very delicate area and to protect the rights of the children which are involved in proceedings, usually, Family Law courts are closed to the public.

    What Is Covered Under Family Law?

    The areas covered by family law include:

    Parenting orders for children

    Child support or other issues arising regarding a child’s welfare (e.g. education, religion, medical treatment)

    – Determination of parentage

    – Maintenance for spouses

    – Property disputes between former spouses

    – Enforcement and contravention of court orders;

    – Injunctions

    – Applications regarding nullity or validity of a marriage

    – International child abduction

    – Applications regarding special medical procedure relating to a child

    – Applications that have been certified by legal practitioners as complex

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    Can You Go To Family Court Without A Lawyer?

    Yes, you can go to the Family Court without a lawyer and represent yourself. However, and depending on your matter, it is sometimes not recommended.

    For example, if you are a party to a property proceeding, the amount of information and details required, is usually very specific. For someone who has never done a Family Law property settlement before, s/he might not know exactly what to do. The amount of content and detail that is required when drafting an Affidavit and the orders required, usually requires the expertise and knowledge of a Solicitor/Barrister.

      How Do I Represent Myself In Custody Court?

      1. Try and resolve the matter out of court.

      If you are applying for orders in relation to children, the court will require parties to have attempted to resolve their dispute through Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) before commencing proceedings. Unless there is an adequate reason why FDR is not suitable for your situation, for example; family violence, then you must complete this and obtain a section 60I certificate.

      1. Thoroughly prepare your material.

      If you are the Applicant and are seeking ‘custody’, you must file the Application, Affidavit and notice of risk. If you are the respondent, you must file a response, affidavit and notice of risk.

      1. Issues subpoenas.

      If you know of the exact material that would help your case, you can issue subpoenas to obtain this material.

      1. Present your case before a family court judge. Be mindful of the etiquette, and always address the judge as ‘Your Honour’.

      Where Can I Find Information On Representing Myself In A Family Law Matter?

      The Family Court website provides self represented litigants with information on the following:

      1. Getting ready
      2. What to wear
      3. Children at court
      4. Personal safety
      5. Arriving at court
      6. Inside the courtroom
      7. When your case is called
      8. When orders are made
      9. Speaking to the judicial officer
      10. Legal advice

      How Do I Apply To Family Court?

      If parties cannot reach an agreement prior to going to court, an application must be filed at court. Once you file the correct application, the process begins that may result in a hearing before a judge. There are multiple forms, and depending on your dispute, the appropriate form should be selected.

      Where Is the Family Court Of Australia?

      There are multiple locations of the Family Court of Australia. In NSW, The Family Court of Australia can be found at Albury, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Lismore, Newcastle, Parramatta, Sydney (CBD) and Wollongong.

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      What Is The Purpose of Family Law?

      The purpose of the Australian Family Law system is to help people resolve legal aspects of family relationship issues, including family relationship breakdown. It encourages people to agree on arrangements without having to go to court. This in turn, encourages and strengthens the role of the family unit, and also the equal position of spouses as individuals.  

      What Is Considered A Family By Law?

      A family can be made up of anyone a person considers to be their family.

      A family shares:

      • emotional bonds
      • common values
      • goals and responsibilities

      Family members contribute significantly to the wellbeing of each other.

      When a family includes children, one or more adults may take on an involved role in the child’s life and become a parent or carer. Parents and carers may not necessarily be biologically related to the child or even live with the child all the time. A child may have one or several parents or carers. In addition to their biological parents, this could include grandparents, step-parents, aunts and uncles, foster parents, adoptive parents, and any other person who fulfils a significant portion of the parenting and caregiving for the child.

      Is A First Cousin Immediate Family?


      A first cousin is considered to be a relative of a child to which proceedings are held, however, the legislation is silent as to the words ‘immediate family’.

      Who Are Immediate Relatives?


      A relative of a child is; a step-parent, a brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, step-brother or step-sister, grandparent, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece or cousin.

        What Cases Do Family Courts Hear?

        The Family Court of Australia can hear all family law matters except divorces (which are heard in the Federal Circuit Court).

        The Family Court if Australia specialises in family law and is set up to deal with more complex matters including:

        • family violence
        • allegations of drug or alcohol abuse
        • issues around parental mental health
        • allegations of child abuse

        This court has counselling and mediation services and is the highest court in Australia dealing with family law issues.

        The Federal Circuit Court of Australia deals with a range of matters in federal law including family law. It is where most proceedings are first filed.

        The court deals with the less complex family law matters including:

        • divorce
        • property matters
        • parenting and child support

        The majority of applications under the Family Law Act may be filed in the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court.

        What Are The Laws For Child Custody?


        Under Australian family law, children have a right to enjoy a meaningful relationship with both their parents, and to be protected from harm. A court is required to give greater weight to the consideration of the need to protect children from harm.

        The Family Law Act 1975 is gender-neutral, and does not make assumptions about parenting roles. When a family court is making a decision about a child, the court will make an order that is in the best interests of the child.

        How Does A Judge Decide Custody?

        In Australia, ‘custody’ is determined by parenting orders. A judge must consider what is the ‘paramount’ consideration of the child.

        Judges consider the following:

        • Protecting children from physical and psychological harm, including children experiencing family violence or neglect
        • The benefit of the children having a meaningful relationship with both parents.

        Who Has Custody Of A Child When There Is No Court Order?

        There is an automatic presumption that parents are to have “equal shared parental responsibility of children.

        The custody of the children is determined by this presumption, however, this presumption can be rebutted if
        (a) There is abuse towards the children; or
        (b) There is Family violence.

          What Is Considered An Unfit Mother?

          In the eyes of the law, an unfit mother is considered to be someone who neglects their children and does not act in the child’s best interests. Both a mother and father are responsible for the care and welfare of their children until the children reach 18.

            What Is Section 31 Of The Children Act?

            Section 31 of the Child Protection (Working With Children) Act 2012 looks at powers of children’s guardian to require production of information.

            How Long Does It Take For Family Court?


            Depending on the nature of the proceeding a property settlement can take between 18-30 months.

            A parenting proceeding can take 18-30 months, if it goes all the way to final hearing.

            Out of court settlements, such as mediation, can be resolved much faster, in 4-12 weeks.

            How Do I Get A Family Law Degree?

            You must obtain either a Juris Doctor (JD) or a Bachelor of Law(s) degree from a University in Australia, or oversees – which can sometimes be recognised in Australia. A law degree can be obtained within 3 years of full time study, or 6 years part time.

            What Are The Steps To Become A Judge?


            1. Complete a Juris Doctor (JD) or a Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree.

            This takes 3-6 years, depending on studying full time or part time.

            2. Complete your Practical Legal Training.

            The Legal Practise Certificate can take up to 80 days of supervised legal practise by a lawyer with at least 3 years experience. In addition to this, you must complete the course work which takes between 3-6 months, depending if you are studying full time or part time.

            3. Admission to Legal Practise.

            Law graduates must apply to the relevant state or territories Admissions Authority within 5 years of graduation. From, 1 January 2015, you must apply at least four weeks before the admission ceremony filing date.

            4. Obtain a practising certificate.  

            This must be obtained in order to be allowed to practise as a solicitor or barrister within NSW.

            5. Remain Practising.

            You must be enrolled for a period of at least five (5) years to be potentially appointed as a Family Law judge.

            What Are The Types Of Law Degrees?

            • As a law degree after the completion of your Higher School Certificate
            • As a masters degree, from a University in Australia, tailored in this specific area
            • As a postgraduate degree, which is offered by other educational institutions, such as the College of Law.  

            How Does Someone Become A Judge?

            • Judges are generally appointed by the Governor in council after recommendations of the highest calibre are provided by the NSW attorney general.

            How Does Someone Become A Family Law Judge?

            • To become a Family Court judge a person must have been enrolled as a legal practitioner of the High Court or Supreme Court of a state or territory for at least 5 years.

            What Do Family Lawyers Make?

            According to Family Lawyer Salaries in Australia, the average Family Lawyer makes $102,108.00.
            This salary is taken into account for solicitors who have a mixture of legal aid and private paying clients, as well as the volume of clients.

              Does Family Law Pay Well?

              If your clientele is focused around private paying clients, working on a high volume of clients, and your marketing campaign is well executed, family law, like any other area of law, has the potential to pay well.  

              What Is The Highest Paid Lawyer?

              A recruitment agency named Seek, has reported construction lawyers averaging $124,041.00 in 2018 and Corporate and Commercial lawyers reportedly earning $118,558.00 on average.

              How Much Does A Family Court Judge Make?

              A family court Judge makes $441,010 in accordance with the rates and remuneration table table of judicial officers.

              How Much Does Judge Judy Make A Year?

              According to Forbes, Judge Judy earned $147 million, before tax, in 2017.

              Why Do You Like Family Law?

              Family Law is both challenging and rewarding. Being a family lawyer, you can assist by advising your client of his or her legal rights through an incredibly stressful experience in their life. It is rewarding to know that you have helped your client achieve the best possible result.