Going to Court

Going to Court

When navigating family law issues, we strongly support participation in alternative dispute resolution processes such as negotiation, mediation and arbitration. Wherever possible, we help our clients resolve their family law matters in a non-adversarial way, and without intervention of the court.

Sometimes however, parties to a dispute can be intractable, negotiations fail, and court proceedings become the only option or are urgent and necessary to protect people or property, to minimise loss or waste, or to avoid an unjust outcome. In these circumstances, it may be more appropriate to file an application for the matter to be determined by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

We are experienced advocates with extensive family law knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of court processes. Our principal has Trans-Tasman dual qualifications with expertise in both Australian and New Zealand family court jurisdictions.

We provide court representation for all family law matters including urgent and pressing matters, such as:

Children and parenting

  • interim parenting orders
  • recovery and location orders
  • child protection issues such as where a parent has been violent or is abusing drugs or alcohol
  • child abduction or applications to prevent removal of a child interstate or overseas
  • relocation of children interstate or overseas
  • altruistic surrogacy arrangements, adoption, and applications for parentage orders
  • paternity disputes

Property and financial support

  • negotiating urgent financial support following separation including spousal maintenance and interim property settlements
  • applications to the court to restrain a party from disposing of or dealing with matrimonial assets
  • applications for sole occupation of the home
  • applications to stay proceedings under the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010

Family violence issues

  • applications for protection orders
  • applications to restrain a party from entering a property or place of business

The Family Court in Australia

The passing of recent legislation amalgamated the courts previously dealing with family law matters in Australia. The newly amalgamated court is the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA), which creates a unified structure with standardised rules, case management processes and forms. The reforms establish a single point of entry for federal family law matters, with two divisions. Division 1 will deal only with family law matters, and Division 2 will deal with both family law and general federal law matters.

Getting interim orders

Family law matters that proceed to court generally take 12 months or longer before they are heard. Because of such delays, or if there are urgent issues that need to be addressed, we may recommend that you seek interim orders.

Interim orders are temporary orders made by a court to provide an urgent provisional solution to parenting or financial matters until a final hearing. Obtaining interim orders can be expensive and the process is complex. If you are considering applying for an interim order, we strongly recommend you obtain legal advice.

Interim property orders may include a part-property settlement, which is like an ‘advance’ on what a party is likely to receive in a final settlement. The orders will be taken into account in the final matter which means that any funds advanced will be deducted from the final property settlement. The funds may be used for whatever purpose the party seeking the interim order chooses, such as buying a car, renting a property, paying legal fees or for daily living expenses.

Interim parenting orders may be made concerning:

  • with whom the children of the relationship will reside
  • the amount of time the children will spend with each parent and other people, such as grandparents
  • details of parental responsibility
  • how children will communicate with the parent they do not live with
  • any other matter related to the care, welfare or development of children

An interim hearing may also be used to obtain the following types of orders:

  • drug testing
  • recovery orders
  • restraints on certain behaviours
  • the appointment of an Independent Children’s Lawyer

When determining the above, the court will consider what is in the best interests of the children.

What is an injunction?

An injunction is a court order that prevents a person from doing something, or compels a person to do something, and may be required urgently in family law matters. For example, you may need to seek an injunction to stop your ex-partner from selling or dealing with a significant asset, such as the family home, or shares. Such orders would generally be sought when the other party has control over the asset, for example, a property registered in that person’s sole name. An injunction may also be ordered regarding the occupancy of the family home.

If your family law matter cannot be resolved through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution, we will advocate strongly on your behalf throughout the entire court process. If your matter is urgent and you require interim orders for your own protection, the welfare of your children, or to prevent the depletion of assets, we can prepare an urgent application on your behalf and represent you in court. If necessary, we will assist you to select and brief a specialist barrister who can advocate for you in Court.

If you need any assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call (07) 3630 1649 for a no-obligation discussion and for expert legal advice.