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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Court documents


The ‘Initiating application’ form and the ‘Response to an initiating application’ form are used for both the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court.

In the Family Court you can also use the ‘Application for final orders’ and ‘Response to an application for final orders’ which do the same as the ‘Initiating application’ forms.

You can use the ‘Initiating application’ form for both interim orders and final orders. You need to fill out both areas in the form, asking for the orders you seek. In the Family Court you can also use an ‘Application in a case’ and ‘Response to an application in a case to apply and respond to interim orders’. The other forms used in each court are generally similar. Court forms can change.

Make sure you use the most recent version of the forms and the correct form for the court you are applying to. You can download the current forms at or get them from the court registry. The courts can tell you about which forms to use, call 1300 352 000.

The Federal Circuit Court sometimes accept Family Court forms if they follow the court’s rules.

See Appendix one for a list of commonly used forms.

Documents to hand in with an application

When you file (hand in) an application for parenting orders with the court, you must include a s 60I certificate, unless good grounds exist for not having one, such as urgency of the application.

You can use the one application form for both the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court. There is a statement of truth at the end of the form which needs to be filled in.

If you are filing the ‘Initiating application form’ for both interim and final orders, you need to file a separate affidavit for the interim orders. Each court has its own affidavit form which you can get from the court or their website:

In the Federal Circuit Court you need to file a separate affidavit at the same time as filing your Application or Response, even if you are seeking final orders only. You can get these forms from the court or their website.

These forms and requirements can change. Always check with the court first.

See ‘Chapter seven – Affidavits’.

Where to file your application

Once you have completed your Application or Response, you must file them at the court with any documents which support your case. You can post your application or give it to the court yourself.

Before filing the documents, make enough copies of the originals for each person involved in the case. Keep a copy for your own records too. Original documents are kept in a file at the court. Find out your file number after you have given these to court as you need to quote it in future documents.

After you have given the documents to the court, they are stamped with the court's official seal (stamp). It is then up to you to serve (deliver) a sealed copy of all documents on the other party or parties.

Court fees

The courts charge fees for filing your ‘Initiating application form’ or ‘Response form’. Fees also apply to interim applications filed separately after your Initiating application or Response. An exemption from payment of filing fees applies if you hold certain government concession cards. In some cases a reduced fee may be sought for a divorce application, or decree of nullity, if you can demonstrate financial hardship.

Ask the court staff for more information. Always check with the court registry for changes in fees.

Fee costs

Family Court
$305 Application for final orders or Initiating application form
$500 Application for final orders or Initiating application form (financial orders and children)
$305 Response to an application for final orders (or Response to Initiating application form)
$145 Application for Consent Orders
$105 Interim application

Federal Circuit Court
$305 Initiating application form
$500 Initiating application form (financial orders and children)
$305 Response to Initiating application form
$800 Application for Divorce
$265 Application for Divorce (Reduced fee)
$105 Interim application

These fees can change without the court giving notice

Arranging service of court documents

You need to arrange to serve a sealed copy of your Application or Response and any other documents on the other party as soon as possible if your application is in the Family Court. If your application is in the Federal Circuit Court, these forms must be served:

  • at least seven days before the first court date

  • at least three days before the hearing date fixed for that application if the application is for orders after your court case has already started.

A sealed copy means that the court must stamp and sign the copies before you serve them.

A copy of all documents served on the respondent (or applicant) also needs to be served on any other parties (including the independent children’s lawyer, if there is one involved). The response does not have to be served personally but must be served at least seven days before the court date.

You cannot serve court documents yourself. You need to arrange for someone else over the age of 18 to serve the documents. This person can be a family member or friend, or you can hire a ‘process server’. A process server is a person who is hired to serve legal documents. Look at the Yellow Pages for listings of process servers. Note that the person serving the documents cannot be someone with an ‘interest’ in the case. For example, a person named in your application.

The Response can be served by post to the other party or parties by sending it to the ‘address for service’ (this address is on the application you have been served with).

For more information on serving documents see

The person serving the documents should get an ‘Acknowledgment of service’ signed by the respondent. Afterwards, the person serving the documents needs to complete an ‘Affidavit of service’. You can download these forms from the family law courts website or get them sent to you by calling 1300 352 000.

Both the forms need to be filed with the court.

If you are unable to serve the other party, you need to apply to the court for:

  • substituted service (service of documents on another person) or

  • dispensation of service (court permission not to serve the documents).

You do this by making an interim application to the court and supporting your application with an affidavit. Keep copies.

As well as keeping copies of all court documents, you also need to keep copies of anything in writing that you send to the other party.

If an independent children’s lawyer is appointed, send them a copy of any letter you send to your ex partner, or his or her lawyer. Serve the independent children’s lawyer with copies of all court documents which you want to use in court.

Independent children’s lawyers must be served as they are a ‘party’ to the proceedings. This gives the independent children’s lawyer the opportunity to participate fully. Show you have included the independent children’s lawyer by inserting ‘cc’ at the end of any letters, for example:

Yours faithfully
Jenny Brown
cc Independent children’s lawyer

For more information about the independent children’s lawyer see ‘Chapter four – Children’.

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