Subdivision F under Division 12 (Proceedings and Jurisdiction) under Part VII (Children) of the Family Law Act (1975) is about the “extension, application and additional operation of part.” This subdivision consists of 6 Sections (69ZE – 69ZK). In this article, we will discuss these Sections that are about the additional operation of Part VII (Children).
Section 69ZE: Additional Operation and Extension of Part to the States
Section 69ZE of the Family Law Act 1975 is about the extension of jurisdiction to the States. This section provides that the federal family courts (the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia) can exercise jurisdiction conferred on them by the Family Law Act in any State or Territory, as if that jurisdiction were conferred by a law of that State or Territory.
Subsection (2) states that this Part applies to Western Australia if:
- The Parliament of Western Australia refers to the Parliament of the Commonwealth the following matters:
- the maintenance of children and the payment of expenses in relation to children/child bearing;
- parental responsibility for children, or
2. Western Australia adopts this Part.
In essence, section 69ZE allows the federal family courts to hear family law matters, even if those matters arise under State or Territory law, and regardless of parties’ location. This provision ensures consistency in family law matters across Australia. Moreover, it also provides access to specialist family law expertise in the federal courts.
State and Territory family courts also have jurisdiction over family law matters. In some cases, they may be more appropriate for a particular case. However, under federal jurisdiction, Section 69ZE allows for the federal family courts to exercise that jurisdiction, regardless of parties’ location.
Overall, section 69ZE is an important provision in ensuring that parties can deal with family law matters consistently and effectively across Australia, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.
Section 69ZF: Unless declaration in force, Part’s extension to a State has effect subject to modifications
Specifically, this section allows for the referral of certain family law matters from the federal family courts to state courts. It allows this referral where it is considered appropriate to do so. The federal family courts include the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
The matters that can be referred under section 69ZF include any matter arising under State or Territory law, which could be dealt with by a State or Territory court. The section also allows for the referral of a matter to a state court if the federal court believes that it would be more appropriate for the state court to deal with the matter.
The referral of a matter under section 69ZF can occur at any stage of the proceedings, and the state court may deal with the matter as if it were exercising original jurisdiction under its own law.
It’s worth noting that the decision to refer a matter under section 69ZF is discretionary that courts make on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the specific circumstances of the matter. The federal court must also consider any submissions made by the parties before making a decision to refer the matter.
Overall, section 69ZF provides a mechanism for the referral of certain family law matters from the federal family courts to state courts, where it is considered appropriate to do so. This can help to ensure that matters are dealt with in the most appropriate forum, taking into account the specific circumstances of the case.
Section 69ZG states that this Part applies in relation to Territories.
Section 69ZH: Additional Application of Part
This section clarifies that this Part (VII) has additional effects beyond its effects outside this section. Subsection 2 states that certain divisions and subdivisions will have the same effect as if they were explicitly limited to children of a marriage and parties to that marriage.
This provides an alternative constitutional basis for these provisions to operate, even if they cannot operate in relation to ex-nuptial children.
However, subsection (3) limits the effect of these provisions to parental responsibility for children of the marriage, including maintenance, care, welfare, development, and other related aspects.
Subsection 4 states that certain divisions and subdivisions will have the same effect as they are written.
Section 69ZJ: Additional Jurisdiction of Courts
Apart from additional operation of part, it is also important to understand additional jurisdiction of courts. This section also grants the court jurisdiction over matters between residents of different states. These matters relate to child maintenance and expenses, as well as parental responsibility for children.
Section 69ZK: Child Welfare Laws Not Affected
This section outlines limitations on a court’s ability to make orders under this Act regarding a child who is under the care of a person under a child welfare law.
The court cannot make such an order unless it is to take effect when the child is no longer under that care or with the written consent of a child welfare officer.
Additionally, this Act does not affect the jurisdiction or power of a court or authority under a child welfare law. It also does not affect any orders or actions made under such laws. If a court becomes aware of such an order or action, it may adjourn any proceedings relating to the child.
Section 69ZL: Short Form Reasons for Decisions Relating to Interim Parenting Orders
- A court may give reasons in short form for a decision it makes in relation to an interim parenting order.
- The above point does not otherwise affect the obligation of a court to give reasons for a decision it makes in relation to any matter arising under the FLA.
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