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Which court?

Both the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court deal with:

  • parenting orders for children
  • child support or other issues arising regarding a child’s welfare (e.g. education, religion, medical treatment)
  • determination of parentage
  • maintenance for spouses
  • property disputes between former spouses
  • enforcement and contravention of court orders
  • injunctions

The Family Court deals with difficult and complex cases. It may be more appropriate to apply to the Family Court in cases involving:

  • applications regarding nullity or validity of a marriage
  • international child abduction
  • applications regarding special medical procedures relating to a child
  • applications that have been certified by legal practitioners as complex

The Family Court also accepts applications for consent orders where there are no existing proceedings already before the court [see Family Law Rules 2004 (Cth) r 10.15].

Where a matter is less complex the Federal Circuit Court is the more appropriate court as it deals with cases that are likely to be decided quickly. The Federal Circuit Court deals with less complex family law matters including:

  • applications for divorce
  • applications concerning spousal maintenance
  • property disputes
  • all parenting orders
  • enforcement of orders made by either the Federal Circuit Court or the Family Court
  • location and recovery orders as well as warrants for the apprehension or detention of a child
  • child support
  • determination of parentage
  • recovery of child bearing expenses

The following matters are not dealt with by the Federal Circuit Court:

  • adoptions
  • applications regarding nullity or validity of marriage
  • applications for consent orders where there are no existing proceedings already before the court

The filing fees in the Federal Circuit Court are less than those in the Family Court. For a list of the current filing fees visit their respective websites.

Once you have consented to the Federal Circuit Court hearing your matter you cannot withdraw and apply to the Family Court. However, the Federal Circuit Court can refer complex matters to the Family Court.

If you are not sure in which court you should apply, you should seek legal advice.

Which court?  :  Last Revised: Thu Jul 26th 2018
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.