Chapter 1: General information

Download this chapter: Chapter 1: General Information and Chapter 2: Getting Help (PDF) 

1.1 About this booklet
1.2 The legal framework

1.1 About this booklet

This is the tenth edition of Women and Family Law. It states the law as at April 2014 that applies to married and de facto couples (including same sex de facto couples) after relationship breakdown.

This booklet provides a starting point for finding out information about the law. It provides some answers to common questions and also sets out where you can go for further help.

You should not use this booklet as a substitute for seeing a solicitor and getting legal advice.

When reading this booklet, please note:

  • The terms ‘partner’ or ‘ex-partner’ are used to describe a person’s husband or de facto partner, including a same sex de facto partner.
  • Words and phrases are printed in bold for a number of reasons:
    • A term that is defined in Chapter 8 (definition section) is printed in bold the first time that it appears in each chapter.
    • The first time a term is abbreviated in each chapter, it is printed in bold.
    • Time limits are printed in bold.
    • Cross references to other sections of the booklet are printed in bold.

1.2 The legal framework

What laws apply?

The Family Law Act 1975 (Family Law Act) is a federal law that covers:

  • divorce;
  • financial matters (property and maintenance) of separated couples. The Family Law Act covers de facto couples (including same sex de facto relationships) and married couples; and
  • issues about children after the separation of their parents (except child welfare issues which are dealt with by the Children’s Court ). The Family Law Act covers children whose parents were married or in a de facto relationship (including a same sex de facto relationship) and children whose parents have never lived together.

The Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 and Child Support Assessment Act 1989 (Child support legislation) are federal laws that set up Child Support. These laws cover child support in most circumstances. Child maintenance is covered by the Family Law Act in rare cases that fall outside this legislation.

The NSW Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (Domestic Violence Act) is a state law. It enables Local Courts to make Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs) to prevent violence, abuse and harassment in domestic relationships. It also gives the police power to arrest anyone who breaches an ADVO and to take away firearms. The Domestic Violence Act includes provisions that specifically make stalking and some other forms of intimidation a crime.

Which courts deal with family law matters?

There are three courts that deal with family law matters:

The Family Court and Federal Circuit Court are referred to throughout this book as the Family Law Courts.

For further information about how to find the Family Law Courts nearest to you see Chapter 9: Referrals and Resources.


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