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The main purpose of these Rules is to ensure that each case is resolved in a just and timely manner at a cost to the parties and the court that is reasonable in the circumstances of the case.

Promoting the main purpose

                   The court must apply these Rules to promote the main purpose, and actively manage each case by:

                     (a)  encouraging and helping parties to consider and use a dispute resolution method rather than having the case resolved by 


                     (b)  having regard to unresolved risks or other concerns about the welfare of a child involved;

                     (c)  identifying the issues in dispute early in the case and separating and disposing of any issues that do not need full 

                          investigation and trial;

                     (d)  at an early stage, identifying and matching types of cases to the most appropriate case management procedure;

                     (e)  setting realistic timetables, and monitoring and controlling the progress of each case;

                      (f)  ensuring that parties and their lawyers comply with these Rules, any practice directions and procedural orders;

                     (g)  considering whether the likely benefits of taking a step justify the cost of that step;

                     (h)  dealing with as many aspects of the case as possible on the same occasion;

                      (i)  minimising the need for parties and their lawyers to attend court by, if appropriate, relying on documents; and

                      (j)  having regard to any barriers to a party’s understanding of anything relevant to the case.

1.07  Achieving the main purpose

                   To achieve the main purpose, the court applies these Rules in a way that:

                     (a)  deals with each case fairly, justly and in a timely manner;

                     (b)  encourages parties to negotiate a settlement, if appropriate;

                     (c)  is proportionate to the issues in a case and their complexity, and the likely costs of the case;

                     (d)  promotes the saving of costs;

                     (e)  gives an appropriate share of the court’s resources to a case, taking into account the needs of other cases; and

                      (f)  promotes family relationships after resolution of the dispute, where possible.

To access the Family Law Rules 2004 click this link

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Tips for your Court hearing

Getting ready

Be prepared and ready to present your case on the day of your court hearing. Do as much research as possible and gather all the information for your case.

Make sure you have all your documents clearly organised and mark the documents that have already been filed with the Court. Bring a note pad and pen with you too.

Some people find it helpful to sit in a courtroom before the hearing if they have never been in a court before. Most court hearings are heard in open court so you can do this any time.

What to wear

There are no rules about what to wear in court. However, the Court is a formal place and you should dress accordingly.

Children at court

Generally, courts are not appropriate places for children and children cannot go into the courtroom. Please make other arrangements for your child’s care when you come to court. If your child needs to attend court to speak to a family consultant or judicial officer, check with court staff before your court appointment whether any child-care arrangements need to be made for the day.

Personal safety

If you have any concerns about your safety while attending court, please call 1300 352 000 before your court appointment or trial. Options for your safety at court will be discussed and arrangements put in place.

By law you must inform a court if there is an existing or pending family violence order involving yourself or your children. More detail is in the brochure Do you have fears for your safety when attending court?

Arriving at court

You should arrive at least 30 minutes early to give yourself plenty of time to find the courtroom. If you have any problems finding the right courtroom, ask court staff.

You can bring a family member or friend (who is over the age of 18) to sit with you and provide support. Unless approved by the judicial officer, your support person cannot sit with you at the bar table and cannot speak on your behalf.

Recording devices are not permitted in courtrooms without permission of the judicial officer.

Before entering the courtroom you should:

  • turn off electronic equipment, including mobile phones, and
  • remove hats or sunglasses, unless for medical or religious reasons.

Do not bring any food or drink into the courtroom.

Inside the courtroom

Before you enter the courtroom, give your name to the person assisting the judicial officer (either the court officer or associate). Let them know that you are representing yourself. If you are unsure, ask them where you need to sit.

You may have to wait for your case to be called as there may be a number of cases listed on the same day. If you are waiting for your case to be called, you should avoid talking or making any distracting noises in the courtroom.

You must stand each time the Court commences or adjourns. The court officer or associate will announce this by saying ‘All rise’ or ‘Please stand’.

When your case is called, stand up and the court officer or associate will direct you to the bar table.

Speaking to the judicial officer

In the Family Court, the judicial officer hearing your case will either be a judge or registrar.

Legal advice

You should seek legal advice before deciding what to do. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities, and explain how the law applies to your case. You can seek legal advice from a legal aid office, community legal centre or private law firm. Court staff can help you with questions about court forms and the court process, but cannot give you legal advice. 


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Community Legal Centres

Community legal centres are independent, not for profit community based organisations. They provide free legal help – including information, referral, legal education, advice, casework and representation services – to hundreds of thousands of people across Australia every year. 

There are almost 200 CLCs nationally. This includes both 'generalist' and 'specialist' CLCs. 

This  includes generalist CLCs that provide legal assistance in a wide range of areas of law people in their local community, including in relation to family law and family violence, credit and debt, consumer law, social security, migration, tenancy, discrimination, employment and child protection.

There are also specialist CLCs which provide services to a particular target group and/or in a particular specialist area of law. For example, there are specialist services for women, social security/welfare rights, tenants, consumer and credit, refugees, older persons, children and youth, and people with disability, among others.



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