Last Updated 1 April 2022

The Family Law Act and Children of Separated Parentsclick to download a pdf of this chapter
Parenting Plans
Parenting Orders
Independent Children’s Lawyers
Contravention of Parenting Orders
Family Dispute Resolution
Family Violence Orders
Other Orders Relating to Children
Child Abduction
Obtaining Orders from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

There are basic principles that apply in determining the best interests of the child when parents separate and disputes arise about the care of children for whom they have parental responsibility. Part VII of the Commonwealth Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (Family Law Act) sets out the responsibilities and roles of parents in relation to their children and, where there is a dispute, matters are heard in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA). All family law matters are commenced in Division 2 of the FCFCOA and, if the matter is complex, it is transferred to Division 1 by judicial officers after the first court event in Division 2.

Where the issues involve the protection of a child from harm, the Queensland Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld) is relevant, and issues regarding child care and child safety are dealt with by the respective state courts. However, there is a requirement on the parties to family law court proceedings to disclose to the court any child protection matters that a party is aware of to the proceedings (ss 60CH, 60CI Family Law Act).

Each of the relevant courts has their own set of legislation that is used in addition to the Family Law Act. Careful reference to the relevant legislation for each court is recommended, as there are differences and common practices. In this chapter, unless specifically indicated, a reference to the court is a reference to any court exercising jurisdiction under the Family Law Act.