How to run your family law case a do it yourself kit to help you prepare a family law case and represent yourself in court




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About this kit


This kit is for people involved in disputes under the Family Law Act 1975 (Commonwealth) (the Act) about children and property.

Appendix one lists some of the court forms you may use. Make sure you use the current court forms as these change. You can get them at www.familylawcourts.gov.au or get copies from the court on 1300 352 000.

The Family Law Rules 2004 set out the rules of the Family Court, not the law relating to family law (which is contained in the Act). The Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 set out the rules in that court. Both Rules are updated regularly. It is important that you read these Rules before you start your court case. You will also find important sections of the Act and Family Law Rules in the appendices as well as examples of parenting and property orders.

We refer to sections of the Act by writing the letter ‘s’ followed by the section and subsection. For example ‘s.60CC(2)(a)’ means subsection ‘a’ of paragraph 2 of section 60CC of the Act.

Preparing your own family law case takes time and can be hard. It is important to be organised, prepared and well-informed at all times. Doing your own research can help you understand the law and how it may affect your case.

This kit provides information only and is not a substitute for legal advice. If you are involved or may be involved in a court case, get legal advice.


What do these words mean?


To help you, we have explained some words in ‘What do these words mean?’ at the front of this booklet. These words are also highlighted in bold the first time they appear in each section.

Other references


  • A reference to ‘child’ includes children.

  • A reference to ‘the court’ or ‘the family law courts’ includes the Family Court of Australia (Family Court) and the Federal Circuit Court unless otherwise stated.

  • References to ‘the law’ or ‘the Act’ means the Family Law Act 1975 (Commonwealth).

  • References to ‘the Rules’ means the Family Law Rules 2004 made by the Family Court of Australia.

Changes to the law


The law changes all the time. To check for changes you can:

  • call the Victoria Legal Aid Legal Information Service

  • read the 'New law' and 'Legal issues' pages on the Victoria Legal Aid website at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au

  • visit a Victoria Legal Aid office or a community legal centre.

Human Rights Charter


You have rights, freedoms and responsibilities under Victoria’s new Charter of Human Rights.

For more information about the charter, go to www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au or call the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission advice line on 9281 7100 or 1800 134 142 (toll free).


What do these words mean?


affidavit

a written document that lists evidence for the court. An affidavit is signed in front of an authorised person (such as a lawyer or Justice of the Peace) and sworn or affirmed to be true

affirm

a declaration or promise that something is true. This is made if you do not want to swear on the Bible, Koran or other religious book

allegation

when someone accuses another person of having done something

applicant

the person applying for a court order

assets

things you own, such as property, land, shares, bank deposits, jewellery, clothes and so on

consent

agreement

consent orders

an agreement between you and the other party which is approved by the court and then made into a court order

costs

money for legal or other costs which a party may be ordered to pay in a court case

deponent

a person making an affidavit

disclose / disclosure

to make all the information relevant to the case available in the time that the court requires

evidence

information used in court to prove something

family consultant

a psychologist or social worker who helps the court and the parties in children’s cases

file / filing

to give documents to the court. The court stamps the documents and gives you back a copy

final orders

the last orders that the court makes to finish a court case. Once a final order is made, the case is over

independent children’s lawyer

a lawyer appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the child

interim

short term. An interim hearing looks at the issues that need to be decided in the short term (for example, where the children will live). Interim orders may be made. Later a final decision or agreement is made into final orders

judge

the person who makes sure the case follows the rules and who makes the decisions in the Family Court

judicial officer

judge or registrar

magistrate

the person who makes sure the court follows the rules and who makes the decisions in the Magistrates’ Court

party / parties

a person or legal entity (for example, a bank) involved in a case

privilege

a legal rule that says confidential information that you have given to, or received from, your lawyer cannot be used in court

registrar

a person who works for the court and who has been given power to do different things

respondent

a person named by an applicant as the other party in a court case

serve / service

the legal delivery of a document, by certain rules of the court

subpoena

a document that says you must appear in court or give certain documents to the court at the request of the party

swear

when you swear on a Bible, Koran or other religious book that something is true

witness

a person who gives evidence in writing or in person


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