The Family Court of Western Australia is a state court dealing with family law which was established in 1976 under the Family Court Act of 1975. It is an integrated court functioning as a Superior court and a lower court. Western Australia is the only Australian state with its own Family Court.
The Commonwealth Government provides almost all of the funding for the operation of the Family Court in Western Australia. Every quarter, the Western Australian Government issues an invoice to the Commonwealth covering the cost of operations and receives payment from the Commonwealth.
The Family Court of Western Australia is located at 150 Terrace Road, Perth, Western Australia. Country circuits are conducted at regional centres in Albany, Broome, Bunbury, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie. Local magistrates deal mainly with enforcement matters and interim applications.
The Family Court in Western Australia is composed of judicial officers, non-judicial officers, consultancy service providers. The judicial officers include one Chief Judge, four judges, one principal registrar or magistrate, seven family law magistrates, two acting family law magistrates and two registrars. The non-judicial officers include one executive manager, managers and team leaders, registry officers and judicial support officers. The consultancy service providers include one director, three managers and thirteen family consultants.
The Family Court in Western Australia handles cases on divorce, child custody, adoption, surrogacy and marital property settlements. Proceedings for married people are held under the federal legislation, Family Law Act 1975 (Commonwealth). Proceedings for unmarried people are held under the state legislation, Family Court Act 1997 (Western Australia). During 2002, the legislation was amended to include de facto relationships and their property matters.
Most of its cases related to children are parental responsibility and arrangements such as the residence of the children, the people they can spend time with and communicate with, educational provisions, travel arrangements (whether the child can travel outside of Australia) and whether a child’s name can be changed.
It is also responsible for the approval of adoption applications in the state, releases information from past adoption cases at the request of the Department for Community Development and coordinates the processing of adoption applications. In surrogacy cases, judges of the court may issue parentage order and other orders.