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The Family Court

The Family Court combines issues of maintenance, Children’s Court matters, guardianship, parental rights and responsibilities relating to custody and care, and domestic violence.
(See: Custody, guardianship and support of the children)

All Regional Courts are now family courts. One of the purposes of the Regional Court is to make it easier and cheaper for people to get a divorce. In the Regional Court people can choose not to have an attorney or advocate to represent them. The procedures used in the Regional Court are simple and cheap (if no lawyers are used).
(See : Problem 1: getting a divorce)

A divorce can be finalised in as little as a month if the parties have signed a settlement agreement at the outset, this is called a Consent Paper. However if there are children, the Family Advocate who is appointed to look specifically at the needs of children in family matters, may become involved to make sure that the arrangements for the children are satisfactory. If there are any disputes about the children or if they have any concerns about the arrangements proposed for the children in the summons, the divorce will take a bit longer to finalise. It will also take longer if it is defended.
(See: Resources for Divorce Court centres)

Arrangements Made at the Time of DIvorce

When a couple gets divorced, they have to make a number of arrangements. The most important arrangements the couple must make are:

  • Custody (now called care) of the children
  • Access (now called contact with) to the children
  • Maintenance of the children
  • Maintenance for one partner, usually the wife
  • Dividing up the family property

Care and maintenance of children are the most important things to arrange. A court will not let a couple get divorced until it is sure that there are satisfactory arrangements for the children.

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