The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court
The Family Court deals with family law issues. It is helped in its work by the Federal Circuit Court. The Federal Circuit Court deals with many of the more straightforward legal problems, such as divorce or separation. The Family Court deals with many of the more complicated or serious matters, such as allegations of child abuse, as well as child abduction cases. For more information see the Family Law section of this website.
The Federal Circuit Court can grant divorces. Where parents have separated, whether married or unmarried, it deals with disputes about the residence and care of children, and about the contact of children with the other parent and others in their lives such as grandparents. It also resolves property disputes between couples who have been married, and de facto couples.
The payment of maintenance by parents for their children, now generally known as ‘child support’, is usually dealt with by the Child Support Agency, though some cases are still dealt with in the Federal Circuit Court or the Family Court.
The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court are very busy courts. There is a strong emphasis on the use of counselling facilities and on conciliation conferences to resolve disputes by consent. Mediation with family law issues is compulsory.
The Family Court’s registry is in Hobart but it also sits in Devonport and Launceston. Counselling and conferences take place in these and other major centres. Urgent matters are generally dealt with in Hobart. There is increasing use of phone and video conferencing to reduce time-consuming travel for court officers and parties.
Reviews of Federal Circuit Court decisions are dealt with by a Family Court judge. An appeal from a judge’s decision goes to a bench of three Family Court judges and from there an appeal goes to the High Court.