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About the Family Court

Overview of the Family Court

About the Family Court

Because it involves family relationships and issues that are often personal and sensitive, family law can be a particularly complicated area. The Family Court is a specialist court that was set up to try to take this into account. This section provides information about the Family Court and some of its special features and processes.

What types of cases does the Family Court deal with?

Family Court Act 1980, s 11

The Family Court deals with a wide range of family law issues, including:

What’s it like in the Family Court?

Family Court Act 1980, ss 10, 12A

The Family Court Act requires the Family Court to avoid unnecessary formality.

The rules of evidence are also more flexible in the Family Court: the judges are allowed to accept a wide variety of evidence, including evidence that wouldn’t be allowed in other courts.

About the judges and the court staff

  • Family Court Act 1980, s 5; District Court Act 2016, s 15

    Judges – To be appointed as a Family Court judge you must have at least seven years’ experience as a lawyer, and you must also have the right training, experience and personality for dealing with family disputes.

  • Registry staff – The Family Court registry staff make some of the procedural decisions that keep a case moving towards a final decision by a judge – for example, timetabling decisions about when the next step in the case has to completed. The registry staff are also responsible for managing individual cases: if you have a question about your own case you should contact the staff member whose name is on any letters you’ve received from the Family Court about your case.
  • Family Court Coordinator – The coordinator can give you information about the court and its services. They also liaise with other people involved in Family Court processes such as specialist report writers (psychologists for example), social workers and lawyers appointed for children. Most Family Courts have a coordinator. If it’s a smaller Family Court that doesn’t have one, the court manager will be able to help you.
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