The Family Law Act is administered by the Family Court of Australia, the Family Court of Western Australia (for West Australian residents) and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
The Family Court of Australia was formed under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). Section 21 created the Family Court of Australia as a superior court of record. It has has jurisdiction over all marriage-related cases in Australia, including children born of de facto relationships (except in Western Australia). The Family Court shares this jurisdiction with theFederal Circuit Court of Australia, which deals with less complex cases. When dealing with first instance cases, the Family Court is presided over by a single judge. A Full Court of three judges hears appeals on matters of family law.
The court is presided over by judges, magistrates and registrars. It is vested with State and Federal jurisdiction in matters of family law and deals with divorce, property of a marriage or de facto relationship, matters relating to children, maintenance and adoptions.
The Federal Circuit Court of Australia was established by the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999 formerly the Federal Magistrates Act) and its jurisdiction at inception was conferred by the Federal Magistrates (Consequential Amendments) Act 1999. These Acts received royal assent on 23 December 1999.
The establishment of the Federal Circuit Court marked a change in direction in the administration of justice at the federal level in Australia. Australia had not previously had a lower level federal court, although a considerable amount of federal law work had been done in state and territory courts of summary jurisdiction under the provisions of the Judiciary Act.
The jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit Court has grown since its inception and broadly includes family law and child support, administrative law, admiralty law, bankruptcy, copyright, human rights, industrial law, migration, privacy and trade practices. The court shares those jurisdictions with the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Court of Australia. Some work in those jurisdictions continues to be done in state and territory courts also.