Family Law – FAQs

Q. Do I have to go to court to resolve my legal problem?

No.

A substantial amount of legal problems are resolved by agreement between the two parties prior to the commencement of court proceedings.

The Court is a resource for parties to utilise to resolve legal problems if no agreement can be reached.

Legal problems that require the commencement of court proceedings are still able to be resolved by consent between the parties without a decision by the Court.

Q. Do I have to go to mediation before I can go to Court?

Yes and No.

People with a legal problem that relates to a dispute about children (i.e. who the child/ren live with, what time the child/ren spend with the other parent etc) are required to attend Family Dispute Resolution prior to making an application to commence court proceedings.

There are some exceptions to the requirement to attend Family Dispute Resolution. These exemptions primarily relate to issues of family violence and child abuse. Please speak to one of our Family Lawyers about your legal problem and we can advise you specifically to you problem.

In all other legal problems, mediation is an option that is encouraged in the right circumstances and we can organise this service on your behalf.

Q. What do I do if I can’t afford to pay to go to court or family dispute resolution?

Our Family Lawyers can assist you in applying for a grant of legal aid that will fund your legal assistance throughout the resolution of your legal problem.

Please make an appointment with one of our Family Law solicitors to find out whether you are eligible to obtain a grant of legal aid.

Q. What if the other party refused to attend family dispute resolution? What is a Section 60I certificate?

If the other party has refused to attend family dispute resolution you will be issued a Section 60I certificate to show that you have attempted family dispute resolution.

A Section 60I certificate is issued by the family dispute mediator that conducted your family dispute resolution.

You are required to file a Section 60I certificate with your application to commence court proceedings.

Please make an appointment with one of our Family Lawyers to assist with the preparation of court documents.

Q. Are things said at family dispute resolution confidential or can they be used in court?

Generally, yes.

Mediation is designed to be confidential. The purpose of this confidentiality is so that you feel free to discuss your concerns without fear that any comments you make may be used against you later, particularly if the matter proceeds to Court.

Whilst mediation is generally confidential there are some exceptions which may apply. These are generally when a party indicates that they intend to harm a person or damage property. There is also an exception if the mediator feels that a child is at risk of harm. Our specialist Family Lawyers can give you further information about confidentiality in mediation.

Q. Do I have to consent to orders or parenting plans?

No.

Consent orders and parenting plans are made by agreement between the parties. You do not have to agree to a proposal that is suggested by your ex partner. Whilst you do not have to agree, if you are able to reach an agreement this is preferable to having the Court make a decision for you.

Before you make any orders by consent or agree to a parenting plan you should seek advice from one of our Family Lawyers to discuss appropriate arrangements. We are able to advise you as to whether the proposal is favourable to you or not.

Q. Will an AVO affect my family court matter?
If you have an AVO in place the Court will generally take it into consideration when making family law Orders.

However, sometimes the Family Court or Federal Magistrates Court makes an Order that is inconsistent with the AVO.

The inconsistencies are usually for the purposes of delivering or collecting a child who is spending time with a parent under a family law order. Parties with AVO’s may also have orders made for family law purposes which are inconsistent with the AVO so that the parties may attend family counselling or dispute resolution.

Please make an appointment with one of our Family Lawyers to discuss the impact of AVO’s on family law orders.

Q. What should I do if I am given court documents by the other party?

If you are served with an application for proceedings which have been commenced by your ex partner in relation to either property, children or some other family law issue you will need to make an appointment to see one of our Family Lawyers and obtain some advice about what to do next.

Generally you will be required to prepare a Response to the application and also a document called an Affidavit which is your statement of events.

We can assist you in the preparation of these documents and provide advice about what orders you should seek.

Steven Ng was admitted as a solicitor in 2006 and has practiced exclusively in the field of Family Law with Adams & Partners Lawyers ever since. He is the Family Law practice director for Adams & Lawyers Partners. Steven is also an experienced litigator and, whilst negotiating a resolution is always the preferred option, he is able to effectively represent his clients’ interests in any Court-based actions if the need arises. Read more about Steven here.