Seeking legal advice

It is advisable to obtain legal advice before making a decision about what to do or before applying to the courts. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. They can also explain how the law applies to your case. A lawyer may also be able to help you reach an agreement without going to court. The Family Relationship Advice Line (FRAL) can help you with free legal advice and information about services available to assist anybody with family relationship issues including information relating to family law proceedings. Please call 1800 050 321 or refer to The Family Relationship Advice Line for more information. Alternatively you can obtain initial free legal advice from a Legal Advice Line in your state or territory. You can also refer to Access to Justice which provides help and information on access to services. Court staff cannot give you legal advice.

How do I apply to the court for property and or financial orders?

Please read the following information in relation to property and money matters before you proceed. Also read financial cases principles the court considers to settle financial disputes.

Please read the following information in relation to property and money matters before you proceed. Also read financial cases principles the court considers to settle financial disputes.

If you wish to apply for maintenance or property orders and you were married you must file the application for maintenance or property orders within 12 months of the date your divorce became final or if you were not married and in a de facto relationship you must file the property or maintenance application within 2 years of the breakdown of that relationship. Please refer to s.44 of the Family Law Act 1975. Otherwise, you will need to ask the Court for permission to file your application. You can do this by seeking leave to file the application for property or maintenance orders as one of the final orders sought.

De facto couples also refer -

Legislation: Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Act 2008

Fact sheet : Property division when de facto relationships break down

What do we do if we have reached an agreement?

If all parties agree on orders you can file an application for consent orders with the Family Court of Australia. The parties are not required to appear in court unless otherwise ordered. Before making an application for consent orders the parties should refer to the following:

Financial orders legislation (other than child maintenance) for de facto couples

Financial orders legislation (other than child maintenance) for married couples

The following forms and supporting documents should be completed and filed:

Application for Consent Orders - original application plus 1 copy for each party.

Consent Orders Supplement - guide for cover sheets and orders sought. Original plus 1 copy for each party plus an extra copy for the court records (minimum 3 copies). The copies need to be certified as being true and correct copies of the original document.

Superannuation information kit - if you are seeking a splitting or flagging order - can be ordered if further information is required. You must provide a valuation and evidence that procedural fairness has been provided to the relevant superannuation trustee.

What do we do if we cannot reach an agreement and there is no current pending application in the court?

You will need to file an application - please see further information below.

How do I choose which court to file my application in?

Applications can be filed in the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Please refer to the protocol for the division of work to decide which court you should file your application.

Applications can be filed in the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Please refer to the protocol for the division of work to decide which court you should file your application.

What are the pre-filing procedures?

Before you file an application with the court for orders you should read the fact sheet Marriage, families and separation.

Before you file an application with the court for orders you should read the fact sheet Marriage, families and separation.

In the Family Court of Australia, parties intending to apply for financial orders must follow pre-action procedures, which include attending dispute resolution, before filing an application. Refer to fact sheet - Before you file - pre-action procedure for financial cases

In the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, parties intending to apply for financial orders are encouraged to resolve disputed issues before filing an application.

How do I file an application?

You can register and file an application electronically through the Commonwealth Courts Portal in most circumstances or by filing your application by post or in person at a Family Law Registry.

You can register and file an application electronically through the Commonwealth Courts Portal in most circumstances or by filing your application by post or in person at a Family Law Registry.

See also:

What forms do I need to complete if I am going to file at a registry?

  1. Initiating Application with supporting Affidavit (Federal Circuit Court of Australia) or Affidavit (Family Court of Australia). Please refer to the fact sheet Preparing an affidavit.
  2. Financial statement if financial orders sought
  3. Superannuation information kit (only required if seeking a splitting/ flagging order - can be ordered if further information is required. You must provide a valuation and evidence that procedural fairness has been provided to the relevant superannuation trustee.
  1. Initiating Application with supporting Affidavit (Federal Circuit Court of Australia) or Affidavit (Family Court of Australia). Please refer to the fact sheet Preparing an affidavit.
  2. Financial statement if financial orders sought
  3. Superannuation information kit (only required if seeking a splitting/ flagging order - can be ordered if further information is required. You must provide a valuation and evidence that procedural fairness has been provided to the relevant superannuation trustee.

How do I file the forms at the registry?

Once the application form is completed and signed by you and the affidavit is completed and signed by you before an authorised witness you are required to file the documents at a family law registry by post or in person.

Once the application form is completed and signed by you and the affidavit is completed and signed by you before an authorised witness you are required to file the documents at a family law registry by post or in person.

 If you are filing your application in person you should have all your documents signed, witnessed (if required) and photocopied before you attend a registry to file them. There is no guarantee that Justice of the Peace services will be available in the registry if you attend to file them in person.

What are the filing requirements?

File the original completed and signed forms plus 2 copies (extra copies are required to be filed for any further parties) at a family law registry.

File the original completed and signed forms plus 2 copies (extra copies are required to be filed for any further parties) at a family law registry.

 If filing in person - you should have all your documents signed, witnessed and photocopied before you attend a registry to file them.

Are there any fees?

Please see the following information depending on which application/s you file:

Consent orders $155 (or $0 if one of the parties is eligible for an exemption of fees. The eligible party should become the applicant in the proceedings).

Initiating application applying for parenting or financial orders only and no interim parenting or financial orders - $320 fee (or $0 if you are eligible for an exemption of fees).

Initiating application applying for parenting and financial orders and no interim parenting or financial orders - $530 (or $0 if you are eligible for an exemption of fees). 

Initiating application applying for parenting orders and financial orders and interim parenting and/or financial orders - $640 (or $0 if you are eligible for an exemption of fees) 

Initiating application applying for parenting orders or financial orders and interim parenting and/or financial orders - $430 (or $0 if you are eligible for an exemption of fees) 

Application in a case and applying for interim parenting and/or financial orders - $110 (or $0 if you are eligible for an exemption of fees) 

Application in a case and applying for procedural orders only - no fee.

Parenting orders under s.64B of the Family Law Act 1975 deal with who a child will live with; how much time a child will spend time with someone; parental responsibility; communication and any other aspect of the child's care, welfare or development.

Fees are set by government regulations, please refer to Family Law (Fees) Regulation 2012 and Court Fees on the Courts web site.

Fees are set by government regulations, please refer to Family Law (Fees) Regulation 2012 and Court Fees on the Courts web site.

Am I eligible for an exemption?

You may be eligible, please refer to the Guidelines for fee exemption.

If you are applying for a general exemption, please file Application for exemption from fees - general (attach photocopy of documentary evidence - front and back).

If payment of the full fee will cause you financial hardship you can apply for an exemption due to financial hardship - please file Application for exemption from fees - financial hardship.

You may be eligible, please refer to the Guidelines for fee exemption.

If you are applying for a general exemption, please file Application for exemption from fees - general (attach photocopy of documentary evidence - front and back).

If payment of the full fee will cause you financial hardship you can apply for an exemption due to financial hardship - please file Application for exemption from fees - financial hardship.

If you are asking the court for a fee exemption you must file either of the above forms when you file your application that has attracted a fee.

How do I pay the fee?

If you have eFiled your application you will be required to pay the filing fee by credit card (visa/mastercard) when you complete the online interactive application.

If you file your application by post or in person go to Making payments to the courts for more information.

If you have eFiled your application you will be required to pay the filing fee by credit card (visa/mastercard) when you complete the online interactive application.

If you file your application by post or in person go to Making payments to the courts for more information.

What will happen after I have filed documents with the court?

If you filed an initiating application at a registry you will receive sealed copies of the documents back once they are filed. One of these is for your records and the other one is for you to serve on the other parties and the Independent Children's Lawyer if there is one appointed. If you have electronically filed an initiating application you will need to print the completed application and supporting documents so you can serve them on the other parties. You can find these documents at the documents-filed tab under the application filed.

You will need to file these documents on the respondent by ordinary service and complete and file an Affidavit of Service (Federal Circuit Court of Australia) or an Affidavit of Service (Family Court of Australia) once you have served the documents as proof of service to the court. Please refer to the service kit for more information.

You will need to file these documents on the respondent by ordinary service and complete and file an Affidavit of Service (Federal Circuit Court of Australia) or an Affidavit of Service (Family Court of Australia) once you have served the documents as proof of service to the court. Please refer to the service kit for more information.

If you filed consent orders, each party will receive a sealed copy of the application for your records. Once the court has considered the application and if the court agrees to make the orders each party will receive a sealed consent order document to show that is has been approved by the court. The court will not automatically make the consent orders the parties have agreed on. If the court has concerns or queries regarding the evidence in the application each party may be required to provide further information. If your application is dismissed you will receive notification. The parties are not required to appear in court for consent orders unless otherwise ordered.