8 things you probably didn’t know about Family Law.
1. Jurisdiction to determine property and spousal maintenance applications
In 2009, most of the states and territories referred jurisdiction to determine property and spousal maintenance matters for de facto relationships to the Commonwealth. South Australia did so in 2010. Since that time, de facto relationships in those states and territories are determined under the Family Law Act.
In Western Australia, the Family Court Act 1997 was amended in 2002, to allow the Court to determine property and spousal maintenance applications for de facto relationship. Western Australia is the only state who did not refer their power to the Commonwealth in 2009.
The Family Court Act 1997 has a slightly different application to the Family Law Act 1975. The most significant difference being that superannuation is not included as an asset in determining the pool available for distribution between the parties.
2. Median age of marriage
In 2014, the median age for couples to be married in Australia was 31.5 years for males and 29.6 years for females.
3. Date assets and liabilities are determined
Assets and liabilities are determined as at the date of the agreement or final hearing and not at separation. In certain circumstances, an increase or decrease in the asset pool post separation will be considered by the Court.
4. Mediation before Court
Unless you are able to demonstrate to the Court that you should be exempt because of reasons such as urgency, or family violence, you must make a genuine effort to resolve your dispute by family resolution before you can commence parenting matters in the Court.
5. Counselling for marriages under 2 years
If you have been married less than 2 years at the time you wish to apply for a divorce, you must attend counselling to discuss the possibility of reconciliation, unless you have the permission of the Court to exempt you from attending counselling.
6. Which Courts hear family law matters?
There are 3 Courts which have the jurisdiction to hear family law matters. The Local Court, the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court.
The Local Court has limited jurisdiction to hear property and parenting matters.Generally, the Federal Circuit Court hears most matters.
The Family Court will hear matters which involve: international child abduction, international relocation, disputes about whether Australia or another country has jurisdiction to hear the matter, special medical procedures, serious allegations of serious sexual abuse of a child, physical abuse of a child or family violence, contravention and other related applications where the matter was initially heard in the Family Court, complex questions of law, or those matters likely to exceed 4 days at final hearing. This list is not exhaustive.
7. Length of separation before filing
You must be separated for 12 months before you can file for divorce.
8. How the Court deals with de facto applications
The Court can only determine a property or spousal maintenance applications if your de facto relationship lasted for at least 2 years in total, or if there is a child of the relationship, or if you have made significant and substantial contributions to the relationship or the relationship was registered under a state or territory law.