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Which court?

Both the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court deal with:

  • parenting orders for children
  • child support or other issues arising regarding a child’s welfare (e.g. education, religion, medical treatment)
  • determination of parentage
  • maintenance for spouses
  • property disputes between married persons
  • enforcement and contravention of court orders
  • injunctions

The Family Court deals with difficult and complex cases. It may be more appropriate to apply to the Family Court in cases involving:

  • applications regarding nullity or validity of a marriage
  • international child abduction
  • applications regarding special medical procedures relating to a child
  • applications that have been certified by legal practitioners as complex

Where a matter is less complex the Federal Circuit Court is the more appropriate court as it deals with cases that are likely to be decided quickly. The Federal Circuit Court deals with less complex family law matters including:

  • all divorce applications
  • all parenting orders
  • enforcement of orders made by either the Federal Magistrates Court or the Family Court
  • location and recovery orders as well as warrants for the apprehension or detention of a child
  • child support
  • determination of parentage
  • recovery of child bearing expenses
  • applications concerning spousal maintenance
  • property disputes (where the property in dispute is worth less than $700 000 or property disputes worth more than this with the consent of both parties)

The following matters are not dealt with by the Federal Circuit Court:

  • adoptions
  • applications regarding nullity or validity of marriage

The filing fees in the Federal Circuit Court are less than those in the Family Court.

For a list of the current filing fees visit the Family Law Courts website.

Once you have consented to the Federal Circuit Court hearing your matter you cannot withdraw and apply to the Family Court. However, the Federal Circuit Court can refer complex matters to the Family Court.

If you are not sure in which court you should apply, you should seek legal advice.

Which court?  :  Last Revised: Mon Jul 9th 2018
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.