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Legal phrases explained

The A-Z of family law legal terms.

Legal Phrases

Welcome to our comprehensive guide, where we discover complex legal phrases. At Shanahan Family Law, we understand that legal jargon can be intimidating and confusing. That’s why we’ve created this resource to explain these terms in plain language.

By understanding these legal phrases, you’ll feel more confident navigating the legal landscape, whether in a case or just curious about the law.

Explore our guide to gain a clearer understanding of these essential terms.


According to Section 4(1) of the Family Law Act related to a child, abuse is characterized as

  • an attack, including a sexual assault, or
  • an individual who include a child in a sexual activity wherein the youngster is used, legitimately or in a roundabout way, as a sexual object by the principal individual or another individual, and where there is an unequal power in the relationship between the child and the primary individual, or
  • making the child endure genuine psychological damage, including (yet not restricted to) when harm is brought about by the child being subjected or exposed to family violence or
  • serious neglect of the child

the location given by a party where documentation can be served on them by hand, post or some other type of electronic correspondence

concede or delay a court occasion to another day

a written statement by a party or witness. It is the fundamental method of introducing the facts of a case to the court. An oath must be signed before an approved individual, (for example, a legal advisor or Justice of the Peace) by method of swearing on the Bible or confirming the truth of the substance of the statement

Appeal a method which permits a party to challenge the court’s decision

the individual who applies to a court for orders
when an individual makes an application to a court for orders, that turns into the case before the court.

Consent Order an understanding between parties that the court affirms and afterward turns into a court order

the point when a court finds a party has not conformed to a court request, that party is in breach the order
the date and time when a case is booked to precede the court
the provisional or final actions the parties or a party must do to carry out a decision made by a court
an instruction made by a court that concludes a marriage
an instruction made by a court to have a party or individual follow an order made by a court.
a hearing where one party is absent and has not been informed of the application before the court; usually reserved for urgent cases
a psychologist and/or social worker who is an expert in child and family issues that may happen following a separation and/or divorce

a procedure whereby a conflict resolution practitioner assists in resolving some or all family disputes with each other following separation and/or divorce

Family Law Act 1975 (‘the Act’) – the law in Australia which covers family law matters
the public area at a Family or Federal Circuit Court to get particulars about the court and its processes, and where parties file documents in relation to their case
a written evaluation report by a family consultant to assist a court to decide on a child case. 

violent, threatening, or other behaviour by a person who pressures, controls or causes fear in a family member. Family violence may also amount to child abuse. See the Family Law Act, section 4AB, which gives examples.

an order (including an interim order) to protect a person from family violence made under an authorised law of a State or Territory

the process of lodging a document at a family law registry for allocation to the court file

a court order that concludes a case

a specific document that must be completed and filed at court, with distinct forms used for different family law matters

a lawyer determined by the court to represent a child’s interests in a case

a provisional court order until another order or a final order is made

a court’s decision after all the attestation is heard

an appointed person like a judge who hears and decides cases

the court and its judicial officers’ authority given to enforce the law, i.e.  courts have jurisdiction in family law matters under the Family Law Act 1975 

a parent’s responsibility to decide about the care, welfare and development of their children. This may be varied by agreement or by a court order

a written contract between the parties defining parental arrangements for children. It is not affirmed by or recorded with a court 

an individual or legal entity involved in a court case, such as the applicant or respondent.

a verdict by a judicial officer, which could serve as an example for other cases or orders.

 a practical order made by a court like ordering the parties to attend a family disagreement resolution

a court lawyer who is assigned the authority to execute certain tasks like permitting divorces, signing consent orders and deciding the next step in a case

a named individual involved with a case, who may or may not acknowledge the requests sought by the applicant

a set of guidelines that outline court procedures, such as the Family Law Rules 2004 (of the Family Court) and the Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 (of the Federal Circuit Court)

providing court documents to a party after they have been filed, conforming to the rules of court. Service secures that all parties receive the documents filed with a court.

a document issued by court obliging a person to provide documents and/or give verification to the court.

a record of verbally expressed proof in a legal dispute. All court hearings are recorded, except uncontested divorce hearings. The court does not provide transcripts to parties and there is a cost associated should a transcript be required.

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