This article will outline the jurisdiction of courts under the Family Law Act 1975 (FLA). The FLA is the primary piece of legislation governing family law in Australia. It sets out the jurisdiction of courts in relation to family law matters, including:
The FLA gives the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) exclusive jurisdiction over a wide range of family law matters. This means that only these courts can hear and determine these matters.
In some cases, the FLA also gives state and territory courts jurisdiction over family law matters. However, these courts can only hear and determine these matters if the parties agree. Read on to know more about legal provisions in relation to the jurisdiction of courts under the FLA.
Section 69G: Interpretation
Section 69G explains the interpretation of the jurisdiction of courts. The term “matters arising under this Part” refers to any proceedings that parties bring under:
- Division 9; or
- Section 68S of the Family Law Act
Section 69GA: Operation of This Subdivision in Relation to Prescribed Courts
Section 69GA allows the Governor-General to prescribe state and territory courts to have jurisdiction over certain family law matters. This section allows for the flexibility of having family law matters heard in a court that is closer to the parties involved. The section has six subsections, that are as follows:
Subsection (1) sets out the basic requirements for this section to apply. The Governor-General must first prescribe one or more courts for the purposes of this section. The regulations can prescribe courts generally or for specified classes of proceedings.
Subsection (2) sets out how this Subdivision applies to proceedings that a prescribed court presides over. The Subdivision applies in the same way as it would if a court of summary jurisdiction presided over the proceedings. This means that the same rules and procedures apply to these proceedings.
Section 69GA: Additional Provisions
Subsection (3) allows the regulations to prescribe the Rules of Court that apply to section 69GA proceedings. The regulations can prescribe rules for a particular court or for courts generally.
Subsection (4) provides that the Rules of Court made under Section 123 of the FLA apply to section 69GA proceedings if the regulations do not prescribe rules for the court in question. This ensures that there are always rules and procedures in place for these proceedings.
Subsection (5) states that before the Governor-General makes regulations for the purposes of subsection (1) or (3) in relation to a particular court or courts in States or Territories, the Minister must be satisfied that the Minister with responsibility for courts in that State or Territory has been consulted.
Subsection (6) clarifies that subsection (5) does not limit the requirements of Section 17 of the Legislation Act 2003. This section requires rule-makers to consult with interested parties before making legislative instruments.
In summary, Section 69GA of the FLA allows the Governor-General to prescribe state and territory courts to have jurisdiction over certain family law matters. This Section allows for the flexibility of having family law matters heard in a court that is closer to the parties involved.
Section 69H: Jurisdiction of Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2), State Family Courts and Northern Territory Supreme Court
The Section 69H is about jurisdiction of these courts:
- The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2); and
- State Family Courts and Northern Territory Supreme Court
Section 69H(1) states that the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2) has jurisdiction in relation to matters arising under Part XI of the FLA.
Furthermore, Section 69H(2) states that each Family Court of a State is invested with federal jurisdiction in relation to matters arising under Part XI of the FLA. This means that the State Family Courts can also hear and determine any matter relating to the enforcement of family law orders.
Lastly, Section 69H(3) grants the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory jurisdiction for matters under Part XI of the FLA, subject to Section 69K.
Section 69J: Jurisdiction of Courts of Summary Jurisdiction
Section 69J establishes the jurisdiction of courts of summary jurisdiction in relation to matters arising under the Act.
Subsection (1) provides that each court of summary jurisdiction of each State is invested with federal jurisdiction. This is in relation to matters arising under the Act (other than proceedings for leave under section 60G).
This means that courts of summary jurisdiction in each State have the power to hear and determine proceedings under the Act, subject to the limitations set out in the Act and any applicable regulations.
Subsection (2) provides that the same applies to courts of summary jurisdiction in each Territory.
Additionally, subsection (3) states that the Governor-General can make a Proclamation to prohibit family law proceedings in certain courts or parts of Australia.
Subsection (4) provides that a Proclamation under subsection (3) may be expressed to apply only to:
- Certain types of proceedings; or
- The institution of proceedings in, or the transfer of proceedings to, a particular court or part of a State or Territory.
Subsection (5) states that Courts of summary jurisdiction must follow Proclamations made under Subsection (3) when hearing family law proceedings.
Moreover, subsection (6) allows the Governor-General to revoke a Proclamation made under subsection (3).
Subsection (7) provides that if a Proclamation is revoked, the Act has effect as if the revoked Proclamation had not been made. However, the effect of the revoked Proclamation on the jurisdiction of courts before the specified day is not affected.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice About Jurisdiction of Courts
The jurisdiction of courts is an important legal concept. It determines which court has the power to hear a particular case. If you are considering taking legal action, it is important to seek legal advice from a qualified lawyer.
A lawyer can help you understand the jurisdiction of courts and ensure that you file your case in the correct court. JB Solicitors is a law firm that specialises in family law. Our lawyers have extensive experience in dealing with the Family Law Act. Our team can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights.
Contact us today for all your family law matters.