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  • Interim hearing versus final hearing in family law

    July 30th, 2021 | by

    So you have progressed your matter past the first court appearance and you are told that you have to attend an Interim Hearing or a Final Hearing… what does this actually mean? Legal jargon can sometimes feel like a different language and the Courts can feel like a different planet.

    To help makes sense of it, the team at New Way Lawyers are going to break it down and share key information about Interim and Final Hearings.

    Interim Hearing in the Federal Circuit Court

    An Interim Hearing usually occurs when two parties cannot agree on parenting or property arrangements. The Court makes an order before the final decision is made (an interim order). The Interim order is a temporary order and stays in place until a final decision is made by the Court or agreement reached by the parties.

    What do you need to do before a family law Interim hearing?

    If your matter has been listed for an Interim Hearing, the Court will most likely have told you what documents you need to file. It is important to comply with timelines for filing documents, otherwise your matter may be delayed (adjourned) or the Judge may grant the orders the other party is seeking. Failing to follow directions given by the Judge can also sometimes result in a ‘costs order’ being made, requiring you to pay money to the other party or their solicitor to cover their costs.

    An interim hearing is generally heard ‘on the papers’ which means the Judge will make a decision after reading the documents that have been filed. It is rare for witnesses to be called or cross examined during interim hearings.

    Final Orders in the Federal Circuit Court

    A Final Hearing is a formal court hearing where all documents are presented to the Court. In addition, witnesses are called and cross examined. The Court considers all of the evidence before making a final decision. There can be a significant length of time, often 1-4 years. between when court proceedings are commenced and a final hearing being set.

    types of hearing dates family law directions mentions

    Stack of Paper documents with clip, Pile of unfinished documents on office desk folders. Business papers for Annual Report files, Document is written,presented. Business offices concept.

    How can you prepare for a final hearing in the Federal Circuit Court?

    Preparing for final hearing is a vey involved and time intense process. Prior to the final hearing the Judge will make trial directions, which set all the steps that the parties need to take prior to the final hearing. This will include what additional documents needs to be filed, what further disclosure needs to be exchanged between the parties and arrangements for the payment of court fees. It is at this point that a barrister will often become involved in preparing the matter for final hearing.

    It is important to be prepared for your final hearing by having all of your documents with you. A good tip is to remember to call the Judge, ‘Your Honour’ and present yourself appropriately as the final hearing is formal.

    Can you appeal a final order?

    After a final orders have been made people often wonder if the orders are able to be changed.

    If final orders were made by a Judge at final hearing the orders may be able to be appealed. The grounds for appealing final orders include that an error of law or an error of fact was made by a Judge who was presiding over the final hearing. An appeal must be on the basis of one of these valid grounds, it is not possible to appeal simply if the outcome is different to what a party was hoping for or not as favourable as expected.

    There may be circumstances following the making of final orders where a significant change in circumstance has arisen, which was not contemplated by the final orders. This change in circumstances may give rise to the ability for an application to be made to the Court to change or vary the final orders. It is important to obtain legal advice if you wish to make an application to vary final orders as it is necessary for a threshold test to be satisfied before the Court will consider the actual application to vary. This threshold test is known as the Rice and Asplund test.

    At any point after the making of final orders the parties can agree between themselves to vary or change the orders but both parties must agree, changes are not able to be unilaterally made by just one party.

    Call us today on (07) 3548 5868 if you would like a free 20 minute consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers.

  • What is a Direction Hearing / Mention?

    July 23rd, 2021 | by

    When you first start navigating the family law system, it can feel like trying to navigate a map in another language. The forms, process, time frames and the terminology can all feel bamboozling!

    Let’s make it simple and explain some of the key steps involved in family law processes.

    Firstly, there are two courts in Australia that oversee family law matters; the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia (FCoA). Most cases are heard in the Federal Circuit Court (FCC). The FCoA is reserved for more complex matters, like these.

    types of hearing dates family law directions mentions

    Main types of court dates in the Federal Circuit Court

    There are three main types of court dates in the FCC and they are;

    1. Direction Hearings or Mentions
    2. Interim Hearings
    3. Final Hearings

    Direction Hearings / Mentions in the Federal Circuit Court

    Direction Hearings or Mentions are brief Court appearances where the Judge or Registrar makes orders for the next steps that need to be taken to progress and resolve the matter. For example, dispute resolution, financial valuations, disclosure or family therapy may be ordered. Sometimes there is more than one Direction Hearing and as these are focused on determining the next steps for progressing the matter, there generally won’t be an opportunity for the actual issues in dispute to be decided or determined.

    types of hearing dates family law directions mentions

    How long after filing an application will a matter be heard in the Federal Circuit Court?

    Usually, the first court date will be held 6- 8weeks after the applicant (the person making the application) has filed their application with the Court. An application can be filed either in person at the Court registry or online. If you file in-person, registry staff will write the date, time and location of your first Court date on your application. If an application is filed electronically, a range of available dates will be indicated and the Applicant will choose one of the available dates.

    If you are the respondent to an application in the Federal Circuit Court, when do you find out hearing dates?

    If you are the respondent (the person who has not made the application but is responding to an application), you will be notified of the date, time and location of the first Court Date when you are served with the application.

    Book a free 20 minute consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers and we can help you make sense of these complex processes in light of your matter today on (07) 3548 5868.

  • What is a family report in family law?

    July 5th, 2021 | by

     

    When parties are unable to reach an agreement about the care arrangements for the children a family report may be written to assist the Court in making a decision about what is best for the children. The report is written by an independent family consultant who is a qualified social worker , psychologist, or psychiatrist with skills and experience in working with children and families post separation. They provide an assessment of the issues in the case, with the child’s best interests as the focus of this analysis.

    Who engages and pays for the family report writer?

    Usually, the Court will order the report (pursuant to section 62G of the Family Law Act 1975), although the parties may engage a consultant, either prior to court proceedings or during court proceedings. 

    The court can fund the report at no cost to the parties or alternatively sometimes the Court may order the parties contribute to the cost if they have the means to do so. Private family reports are always paid for by the parties.

    about family report family law interviews and considerations

    How does the report writer gather information for a family report?

    The family consultant through individual interviews gathers information from the parties, the children and other significant family members. Children can express their own views and wishes if they would like to. Usually interviews are completed at the office of the family consultant, not at the home of the parties.

    The consultant might also observe the child’s interactions with parents or other important people (like grandparents, partners, siblings and step or half siblings).

    What information will the family consultant need to prepare the Family Report?

    The family consultant may request your permission to contact teachers, doctors or other relevant professionals for more information about your child/ren. The Court may also direct that the family consultant have access to any material that has been filed with the Court or provided to the Court by subpoenae.

    What happens after the interviews and observations?

    The family consultant will collate relevant information they have gathered in the family report. All the parties will receive a copy of the family report. Sometimes, matters may settle as a result of the findings in the family report and the parties may agree to consent parenting orders.

    If the matter proceeds to hearing, the consultant may be required to give evidence in Court.

    Who will see the family report?

    Once the report writer has finished writing the family report, a copy will be given to:

    • the court
    • the independent children’s lawyer (if one has been appointed)
    • you or your lawyer (if you have one)
    • the person you are in dispute with or their lawyer (if they have one).

    No one else will be given or shown a copy of the report, unless an order is made by the Court allowing the report to be provided to another person or organisation; this is protected under s121 Family Law Act 1975.

    What if I don’t agree with the Family Report?

    It is important to remember that this is not the only evidence the court will consider. The Court is also not bound by any recommendations made in the report. This evidence can be challenged at court by cross-examining the report writer and asking them questions about the contents of the report. Other parties will have the same opportunity to do this if they are called as witness.


    If you would like to discuss your specific situation further with our experienced team of family lawyers, please contact us here or phone (07) 3548 5868.

  • What is the role of an independent children’s lawyer?

    June 15th, 2021 | by

    At the heart of family law policy is that the children’s best interests are protected in any parental dispute. One way that legislation provides for this is through the use of an Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL). The Court appoints an ICL and their role is to represent the children’s best interests and they can be ordered to find out the child’s views on the matter to which the proceedings relate.

    Who can request an Independent Children’s Lawyer be appointed to a case?

    Section 68L of the Family Law Act 1975 allows for the Court to appoint an ICL on the application of:

    • a child,
    • an organisation concerned with the welfare of children or
    • any other person, to represent and promote the best interests of a child in family law proceedings.

    When will the Court appoint an ICL without application by one of the parties?

    When more of the following circumstances exist the Court will often appoint an ICL:

    icl independent childrens lawyer apointment cicumstances

    How does the ICL determine what is in the children’s best interests?

    how does an ICL work to protect the childs interests

    What is a family report and do I need one?

    If required, a family report may be organised by the independent children’s lawyer or ordered by the Court. This is an independent report prepared by a Court appointed family consultant to assist the judge to make decisions about the child/ren or the parties to reach an agreement.

    Who pays the costs of the ICL?

    The Legal Aid Authority in the state or territory where court proceedings are being heard will normally pay most of the costs associated with the appointment of the ICL. However, the court also has the power to make an order that one or both parties contribute to the costs of the ICL, based on their individual financial capacity. 

    If you would like to know more or are considering engaging a lawyer for your family law matter, please contact us on (07) 3548 5868 or contact us here.

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