Australian law is governing divorces and broken relationships, including property settlements and parenting disputes, is found in the federal Family Law Act 1975.
That Act gives jurisdiction over family law matters to two courts: the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. They are known collectively as the Family Law Courts. The exception to this rule is Western Australia, which has its system.
If you need a divorce, a financial order, or parenting orders, you must apply to one of the two Family Law Courts. This article will help you understand the difference between the two courts.
The Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCC) hears most family law cases. If you only need a divorce, you will probably file your application with the FCC. Even if you need a parenting order or a financial order, the FCC is usually the court that will hear your application.
The FCC has primary offices in Melbourne, Dandenong, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Launceston, Hobart, Newcastle, Parramatta, Perth and Townsville. The FCC also holds hearings in other locations.
You can file an application for divorce with the FCC electronically by registering with the Commonwealth Courts Portal. You can also apply by post. If you want to apply in person, you should visit the nearest Family Law Registry.
The Family Court of Australia (FCOA) hears more complex cases. If your case presents a difficult question of law or if a hearing in your case will probably last longer than four days, you should file your application in the FCOA.
In addition, the FCOA is the appropriate court to hear disputes involving:
In ordinary cases, you should file your application in the FCC. If your case is complex, you will probably be represented by a lawyer. Your lawyer will know whether the case should be filed in the FCOA instead of the FCC.
You should not worry about filing in the wrong court. If court officials decide that your case should be heard in a different court, they will transfer the case to the appropriate court.