What is Family Law?

Family Law in Australia is a specialist branch of law which applies to separation following marriage, de facto marriage and same sex relationship breakdown. Family Law applies only to defacto and same sex relationships of more than two years duration. Care arrangements for children and division of property are usually the issues that a separating couple may need help resolving if unable to reach agreement by themselves.

Separation that leads to divorce can sometimes be a lengthy and painful process. Along the way emotions are usually running high and often initial thoughts on how decisions are to be made are based on those emotions.

Family Law addresses this by providing very clear parameters on what is lawful and what is not. The principle concern around children is that decisions are made in accordance with the best interests of the child. The Family Law Act 1975 documents the legislation applicable to separating and divorcing couples.

If a separating couple is unable to settle their dispute/s themselves, through their lawyers or Family Dispute Resolution, then their matter may be heard in either the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court.

Protocol for the division of work between the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court

Detailed information regarding matters heard in either the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court can be found on the Family Court of Australia website.

Benefits of Settling Family Law Disputes out of Court

"When a relationship breaks down, whether it be a marriage or a de facto relationship, one party may feel it is necessary to have any property or children's issues decided by a Court. Any Court process requires the filling of extensive Court documents, the expenditure of a considerable amount of time, money and emotion. Almost without exception, the litigation process is a long and drawn out one and fraught with uncertainty."

Reference and full article in Atkinson Vinden Law Talk (October/November 2012)

Is divorce really the answer?

Because divorce has serious and long standing consequences on all family members, it is important that careful thought is given to the decision to go down this path.

So if there is any doubt or any chance of considering reconciliation, the earlier this is addressed the better. A competent marriage counsellor can help you and your partner address the issues that are causing concern and help you evaluate if you relationship has a chance of reconciling.

Christine Bennett offers Family Dispute Resolution and Relationship Counselling in Crows Nest, Central Coast NSW and online.