Family Law words

Family Law Legal Jargon Explained

Legal processes that involve family are some of the hardest situations to navigate, causing emotional stress for all parties involved. It can be even more stressful when you feel as though your lawyer is talking in a different language – a language full of legal terms and jargon. 

You’ll need someone who can translate and explain legal jargon to you, helping you understand what those court documents really mean and exactly what you need to do. To give you a head start, here are some common family law terms translated into plain English for you. 

A Helpful List of Common Family Law Terms Explained

Address for Service
The address in Australia that a party in a case nominates as being the place where documents are to be left for them or mailed, faxed or emailed to them.

Adjourn
Defer or postpone a Court event to another day. 

Affidavit
A written statement of facts by a party or witness. It is the main way of presenting the facts of a case to the Court. An affidavit must be sworn or affirmed before a person who is authorised to witness affidavits; for example, a lawyer or Justice of the Peace. 

Applicant
The person who seeks to have the Court make orders. 

Binding Child Support Agreement
A Binding Child Support Agreement is an agreement entered into by the parents of a child setting out the amount of child support that will be paid by one party to another. 

Child Maintenance Order
A Child Maintenance Order is an order made by the Family Law Courts, which requires a person to pay child support to another person for the maintenance of a child or children. 

Child Support
The financial support provided for children by parents who do not live together. 

Consent Orders
A written agreement between the parties that is approved and formalised by the Court as a legally binding Court Order. Consent orders can be in relation to parenting arrangements for children and/or financial arrangements, for example, for the division of property. 

Court Hearing
The date and time when a case is scheduled to come before the Court. 

De Facto Relationship
A relationship between two persons who are not legally married to each other; and not related by family and having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis. A de facto relationship can exist between two persons of different sexes and between two persons of the same sex. 

Discovery/Disclosure
A pre-trial and ongoing obligation of parties to family law proceedings to make available all relevant documents to the other parties. 

Divorce Order
An order made by the Court that ends a marriage. The divorce order becomes final one month and one day after it is made, unless it is shortened by order of the Court. 

Draft Consent Orders
A term used to describe the signed agreement that you wish to have made into Court orders. 

Family Violence Order
An order (including an interim order) made under a prescribed law of a State or Territory of Australia to protect a person from family violence. 

Filing
The procedure of you lodging an application or other document with a registry of the Court. You can do this by hand, post or electronic means. 

Financial Agreement
A private agreement to opt out of the jurisdiction of the Family Law Courts to deal with property and spousal maintenance. In relation to a marriage, or a de facto relationship, means an agreement that is recognised as a financial agreement under the respective sections of the Family Law Act. 

Financial Resources
Is a broad term and can include future expectations under wills or trusts, long service leave entitlements, superannuation before it is paid out, actions for personal injury.

Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL)
Means a lawyer appointed by a Family Law Court to represent the interests of a child and to form an independent view of the child’s best interests, and to present those views to the court. 

Judicial Officer
A person who has been appointed to hear and decide cases; for instance, a judge. 

Maintenance Order
An order made by a Court for a financial benefit to be paid by one person to, or for, another which assists the second person to be supported. 

Medical Procedure Application
An Initiating Application (Family Law) seeking an order authorising a major medical procedure on a child which is not for the purpose of treating some malfunction or disease. 

Parenting Orders
A Parenting Order is an order that is made by either the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court of Australia, which sets out details relating to the care and living arrangements of a child.

Registrar
A judicial officer of the Court who exercises both judicial and administrative functions; for example, granting of divorces, making orders by consent and deciding the next procedural step in a case.

Respondent
A person named as a party to a case against whom relief is sought by an applicant. A respondent may or may not respond to the orders sought by the applicant. 

Sealed Copy
A copy of a document that has an original Court seal stamped on it. 

Service
The process of delivering or posting court documents to a party after they have been filed, in accordance with the rules of Court. Service ensures that all parties have received the documents filed with the Court. 

Spouse or De Facto Partner Maintenance
Financial support for a husband or wife, or former husband or wife or a party to a de facto relationship, which has broken down as the case may be. 

Superannuation Information Form
A form required to be used in property cases where there are superannuation interests being considered as part of the property settlement or division. The form is used to seek information from the trustee of the superannuation plan (a Form 6). 

Third party
A person other than the principal party or parties to court proceedings who may in some way be involved or implicated in the proceedings. 

For more information on family law legal jargon, or to book an appointment with an experienced lawyer, call Robert Wood and Associates on (03) 9762 3877 or contact us online. Our team of qualified law professionals can provide you with expert legal advice.

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