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Do you need help with Family Law issues?

Australia’s family law system helps people resolve the legal aspects of family relationship issues, including separation and divorce, parenting of children and property settlement following the breakdown of family relationships. It encourages people to agree on arrangements without going to court. If people are not able to agree on arrangements then the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia can make orders about these matters.

How GCLS can help

Gippsland Community Legal Service provides legal advice and information to people who:

  • Want to make a property settlement after separation or divorce
  • Want to make arrangements for the parenting of their children
  • Need to apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for financial and/or parenting orders.
  • Want to apply for a divorce
  • Need help with other legal issues as part of relationship breakdown, including family violence, debts and financial stresses and tenancy issues.

Property Settlement

The Family Law Act 1975 (FLA) sets out how the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia approaches property settlement for people who are married and also for de facto couples (and separated after 1 March 2009 or before if the parties consent to opt in).

A couple will be recognised as a de facto couple by the court if:

  • they were living together for two years or more; or
  • they have a child or children together; or
  • they are in a registered relationship; or
  • one party has made substantial contributions and a failure to make an order would result in serious injustice.


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Married couples have 12 months from the date of their divorce order to apply for property orders with the Court.

De facto couples have two years from the date of separation to apply for property orders with the Court.

Before applying to Court, parties need to attend mediation or attempt to reach an agreement.  Many couples reach agreements out of Court so they can make their own decisions and greatly reduce the financial and emotional costs of legal proceedings.   

You can turn your property settlement agreement into a legally enforceable agreement by signing a Binding Financial Agreement or filing Property Consent Orders. 

Children’s Matters

The FLA sets out how the Court determines what parenting orders are in “the best interests” of the children.  When parents separate they both share responsibility for their children.  Children have a right to enjoy a meaningful relationship with both parents and also have the right to be protected from harm.  

Parents must attempt mediation or alternative dispute resolution to reach an agreement about their parenting arrangements, before they can apply to Court for Parenting Orders. 

Mediation can help parents to make a written Parenting Plan or they can opt to file Parenting Consent Orders at the Court.

Mediation may not be appropriate in circumstances of family violence or when there are risks of abuse or harm to the children. You should seek legal advice about your options if mediation is not suitable.

A parent may need to apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for Parenting Orders including:

  • Who the child is to live with and/or spend time with (including supervised contact)
  • To be able to relocate interstate with the children
  • Urgent applications for recovery orders; or
  • Applications for contravention when Parenting Orders are not followed

The family law system can be complicated and difficult to navigate. GCLS is here if you need help or guidance on family law issues.

To request a free telephone advice session, please call us on 1800 004 402 or fill out our online ‘Request an Appointment’ form. Our telephone line operates Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm.

If you are unable to access our telephone advice service, please fill out our online ‘Request an Appointment’ form and we can organise a face-to-face appointment.

Gippsland Community Legal Service