What are court powers under the Family Law Act 1975? Family law matters can often be complex and emotionally challenging, requiring intervention and guidance from the court system. The Family Law Act in Australia grants significant powers to the courts when it comes to resolving disputes related to family matters. The Family Law Act is a crucial piece of legislation in Australia that governs issues relating to:
- Divorce and Separation
- Child custody
- Property settlement; and
- Child support
- Spousal Maintenance
The primary objective of the Act is to ensure the welfare and best interests of the children involved in family disputes. It provides a framework for resolving family law matters in a fair and just manner. In this article, we will explore the court powers under the Family Law Act 1975 and their relevance in family law cases.
Section 90SS: General Court Powers Under the Family Law Act
- The court has the power to:
- Order the payment of a lump sum or periodic sums
- Order the transfer or settlement of property for maintenance purpose
- Secure payments in a specified manner
- Require the execution of necessary documents and production of relevant titles
- Appoint or remove trustees
- Direct payments made to a party, trustee, court, or public authority
- Make different types of orders, including permanent, pending, fixed-term, or life order
- Impose terms and conditions
- Make consent orders
- Make any other order or injunction deemed necessary for justice
- Make orders under this Division at any time before or after a decree under another provision of this Act.
2. The court’s powers are subject to the limitations and requirements outlined in section 90AF(3) and the applicable Rules of Court.
3. The court’s power to make maintenance orders or other orders does not prevent subsequent orders from being made. This is in relation to the maintenance of a party to a de facto relationship.
4. The applicable Rules of Court may establish provisions for forming and enforcing orders under this Division. This includes the collection of maintenance payments.
Section 90SS: Additional Provisions
Here are other provisions in Section 90SS of general court powers under the Family Law Act:
(5). The court has the power to grant:
- Interlocutory injunctions; or
- Injunctions in aid of enforcing a decree
The court can impose appropriate terms and conditions on the injunction when they deem it just or convenient to do so.
(6) and (7) What if a bankruptcy trustee or the trustee of a personal insolvency agreement is involved in a proceeding? If this is the case, the court may issue orders directed towards:
- The bankrupt; or
- The debtor subject to the agreement
(8) Subsections 90SS (6) and (7) do not limit the court’s power under paragraph (1)(e).
(9) If one party to a de facto relationship is bankrupt, the other party can apply for an interlocutory order. The purpose of this order is to restrain the bankruptcy trustee from declaring and distributing dividends to the bankrupt’s creditors.
(10) If one party to a de facto relationship is a debtor subject to a personal insolvency agreement, the other party can apply for an interlocutory order. This will restrain the trustee of the agreement from disposing of the property subject to the agreement.
(11) Subsections 90SS (9) and (10) do not limit the court’s powers under subsections (1) and (5).
Section 90ST: Duty of Court to End Financial Relations
Section 90ST of court powers under the Family Law Act outlines proceedings related to financial matters in de facto relationships. This excludes proceedings under section 90SL. The court has a duty to make orders that will effectively and conclusively resolve the financial relationships between the parties involved. The aim is to avoid the need for any future proceedings regarding financial matters between them.
In simpler terms, the court must ensure that all financial matters between de facto relationship disputes are settled and concluded. The court aims to make orders that will provide a final resolution. This will also prevent any further legal disputes or proceedings related to financial issues in the future. Let’s use an example.
Example of Court Powers Under the Family Law Act
Jack and Emily have been in a de facto relationship for several years. However, they have decided to separate. They have accumulated various assets, such as a house, joint bank accounts, and investments, during their relationship.
Unfortunately, they are unable to come to an agreement on how to divide these assets and settle their financial affairs. In this situation, Jack or Emily can initiate proceedings in court to seek a resolution regarding their financial matters. The court will consider the evidence, including each party’s:
- Financial resources; and
- Future needs
These factors will help determine a fair division of their property. Section 90ST of court powers under the Family Law Act state that the court has a duty to determine de facto financial disputes. The court’s goal is to avoid the need for further proceedings between Jack and Emily. Once the court issues its orders, both parties will have:
- A clear understanding of their asset division; and
- Any financial obligations they may have with each other.
For example, the court may order that the house be sold. Moreover, the court may also divide the proceeds equally between Jack and Emily. They may also order the division of their bank accounts and investments based on Jack and Emily’s contributions. Once these orders are made, the financial relationship between Jack and Emily will effectively end.
How We Can Help With De Facto Financial Matters?
Like our example above, it’s important to seek legal advice when a person is involved in legal proceedings. Financial matters can put a lot of stress on separated couples regardless if they are married or in a de facto relationship. We at JB Solicitors believe that each ex-partner’s personal needs after a divorce or separation matter.
That’s why our experienced family lawyers are readily available to aid in family law matters. Our mediation and arbitration services can help disputed couples reach amicable agreements about their property division or child custody matters.
Contact our experienced family law team today if you need more information about court powers under the Family Law Act.