the family court of australia, highest court dealing with family matters
The court was formed in 1975 as a result of the enactment of Family Law Act. It was originally dealing with divorce, spousal support, property settlements and disputes in parenting.
The Federal Circuit Court on the other hand was established only recently, in 2000. It was initially seen as an alternative court to the Family Court and deals with family disputes not taken up by the Family Court dockets.
Parties in a family dispute often decide which court to go when pursuing a case. The differences lie in the requirements of receiving a case and the cases entertained in practice. Federal Circuit Court requires interim or preliminary issues to be discussed first by the Magistrate on the date the court receives the matter. Thus, it provides speedier adjudication. Family courts require counseling and mediation of the parties before a case is received. In practice, Family Courts limit itself to determining complex trials of child and spousal abuse and neglect as well as family financial matters. The other sub-issues dealing with property, custody and support which only requires fewer days of trial are taken up by the Federal Circuit Court.
Amendments made recently to the Family Law Act require parties to engage first in resolving the despite among themselves prior to filing a case. This is to relieve both court dockets of premature cases as well as cases which could already be dealt with through an informal conference with a law practitioner.
The amendments also necessitate that the parties first consult with a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner before submitting the dispute to the courts. A certification from the Practitioner is needed before any party can make an application with the court. In cases however of extreme urgency, this prior requirement may be done away with.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.