Legal phrases explained
The A-Z of family law legal terms.
Abuse – 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
Address for service – the location given by a party where documentation can be served on them by hand, post or some other type of electronic correspondence
Adjourn – concede or delay a court occasion to another day
Affidavit – 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
Applicant – the individual who applies to a court for orders
Case – 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 is affirmed by the court and afterward turns into a court order
Contravention – the point when a court finds a party has not conformed to a court request, that party is in breach the order
Court hearing – the date and time when a case is booked to precede the court
Court order – the provisional or final actions the parties or a party must do to carry out a decision made by a court
Divorce order – an instruction made by a court that concludes a marriage
Enforcement order – an instruction made by a court to have a party or individual follow an order made by a court.
Ex parte hearing – a hearing where one party is absent and has not been informed of the application before the court; usually reserved for urgent cases
Family consultant – a psychologist and/or social worker who is an expert in child and family issues that may happen following a separation and/or divorce
Family dispute resolution – a procedure whereby a conflict resolution practitioner assists to resolve some or all of 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
Family law registry – 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
Family report – a written evaluation report by a family consultant to assist a court to decide on a child case.
Family violence – 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.
Family violence order – an order (including an interim order) to protect a person from family violence made under an authorised law of a State or Territory
Filing – the process of lodging a document at a family law registry for allocation to the court file
Final order – a court order that concludes a case
Form – a specific document that must be completed and filed at court, with distinct forms used for different family law matters
Independent children’s lawyer – a lawyer determined by the court to represent a child’s interests in a case
Interim order – a provisional court order until another order or a final order is made
Judgment – a court’s decision after all the attestation is heard
Judicial officer – an appointed person like a judge who hears and decides cases
Jurisdiction – 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
Parental responsibility – 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
Parenting plan – a written contract between the parties defining parental arrangements for children. It is not affirmed by or recorded with a court
Party or parties – an individual or legal entity involved in a court case, such as the applicant or respondent.
Precedent – a verdict by a judicial officer, which could serve as an example for other cases or orders.
Procedural order – a practical order made by a court like ordering the parties to attend a family disagreement resolution
Registrar – 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
Respondent – a named individual involved with a case, who may or may not acknowledge the requests sought by the applicant
Rules – 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)
Service – 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.
Subpoena – a document issued by court obliging a person to provide documents and/or give verification to the court.
Transcript – 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.