Abuse – is the physical or psychological/emotional mistreatment of an adult or a child.

Access – is old terminology which describes how often a parent would see a child.

Address for service – the address given by a party where documents can be served on them by hand, post or some other form of electronic communication.

Adjourn – defer or postpone a Court event to another day.

Affidavit – a written statement by a party or witness. It is the main way of presenting the facts of a case to the Court.

Affirmation – for an affidavit or evidence, means an oath by a witness that the witness is telling the truth.

Appeal – a procedure which allows a party to challenge the decision made by a Court.

Applicant – the person who applies to a Court for orders.

Barrister – a qualified legal professional who represents a person in Court and is particularly skilled in the area of advocacy

Case Guardian – means a person appointed by the Court to manage and conduct a case for a child or a person with a disability.

Child Support – a payment of money for support of a child

Conciliation Conference – a conference held with a Registrar of the Court.

Conduct money – means money paid by a party to a witness, before the witness appears at a Court event for the party, for:

(a) travel between the witness’s place of residence or employment and the Court;

(b) if necessary, reasonable accommodation expenses for the witness; and

(c) in the case of a subpoena for production — the reasonable costs of complying with the subpoena.

Consent order – an order of the Court approving the terms of an agreement between the parties.

Contravention – when a Court finds a party has not complied with (followed) a Court order, that party is in contravention of (or has breached) the order.

Contact – is old terminology which describes how often a parent would see a child.

Counsel – includes a barrister and a solicitor acting as a barrister.

Court Case – a matter proceeding in a Court.

Court event – a conference, directions or procedural hearing, interim hearing or trial.

Court hearing – when a case is scheduled to come before the Court for determination.

Court order – the formal binding record of a decision made by a Court. An order may be either interim or final.

Custody – is old terminology which describes which parent the child spends the majority of time with.

Cross examination – procedure in Court when a witness is questioned by opposing counsel to test the veracity of their evidence.

Deponent – a person whose evidence is set out in an affidavit and who swears that the contents of the affidavit are true.

Divorce order – an order made by a Court that ends a marriage.

Domestic Violence – conduct (whether actual or threatened) by a person towards a family member, or property of a family member, that causes reasonable fear (or reasonable apprehension) for his/her personal wellbeing or safety.

Enforcement order – an order made by a Court to make a party or person comply with (follow) an earlier Court order.

Evidence – statement to a Court that is oral or written to prove or disprove a fact.

Evidence in Chief – the evidence of a witness to be relied upon at a trial (set out in an affidavit or given in Court).

Ex parte hearing – a hearing where one party is not present and has not been given notice of the application before the Court; usually reserved for urgent cases.

Exhibit – a document or thing that is tendered in evidence during a hearing or trial.

Family consultant – a psychologist and/or social worker (who specialises in child and family issues) employed by a Court.

Family dispute resolution – a process run by a family dispute resolution practitioner to assist people to resolve their disputes following separation.

Family Law Act 1975 – the law in Australia passed by the Australian Government which covers family law matters.

Family Law Court – include the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Family law registry – the place where people can obtain information about the Court and its processes and where parties file documents in relation to their case.

Family Law Solicitor – a qualified legal professional who concentrates or specialises in divorce, property settlements, child support and parenting disputes.

Family report – a written report by a social scientist such as a social worker or psychologist on matters relevant to the welfare of a child.

Family violence – conduct (whether actual or threatened) by a person towards a family member, or property of a family member, that causes reasonable fear (or reasonable apprehension) for his/her personal wellbeing or safety.

Family violence order – an order made to protect a person, including a child, from violence.

Filing – the procedure of lodging a document at Court for placing on the Court file.

Final order – an order made by a Court to bring a case to an end.

Financial agreement – is an agreement entered into by the parties of a relationship with the intention of setting out how their financial affairs will be managed if they separate.

Financial settlement – property and spouse maintenance.

Form – a particular document that must be completed and filed at Court. Different forms are used for different family law matters.

Hague Convention – an international agreement between some countries of the world which provides rules to be applied if a child is taken from one of those countries to another of those countries.

Hearing – means the process, other than a trial, of determining interim applications, divorce applications, part of a case or an enforcement application. Often there is no cross examination at a hearing.

Indemnity basis – an entitlement to recover all costs incurred, other than costs that are unreasonable in amount or that have been incurred unreasonably.

Independent children’s lawyer – a lawyer appointed by the Court to represent a child’s interests in a case.

Injunction – an order by a Court requiring a person to do or refrain from doing a thing.

Interim order – an order made by a Court until another order or a final order is made.

Judgment – a decision by a Court after all the evidence is heard.

Judicial officer – a person who has been appointed to hear and decide cases; for instance, a Judge or Federal Magistrate.

Jurisdiction – the authority given to a Court and its judicial officers to apply the law. For example, the Courts have jurisdiction under the Family Law Act 1975 in family law matters.

Location Order – an order that requires information to be provided by a third party about the location of a child.

Maintenance – money paid by a person to another person.

Mediation – a meeting conducted to help parties discuss their dispute with a view to reaching an agreement to resolve that dispute.

Mediator – a person qualified to facilitate discussions at a mediation.

Parental responsibility – the responsibility of each parent to make decisions about the care, welfare and development of their children. These responsibilities may be varied by agreement or by a Court order.

Parenting plan – a written agreement between the parties setting out parenting arrangements for children. It is not approved by or filed with a Court.

Party or parties – a person or legal entity, such as a corporation, involved in a Court case; for example, the applicant or respondent.

Pre-action Procedure – is the procedures with which parties to a family law dispute should comply before starting a case.

Precedent – something which may serve as an example for other cases.

Procedural order – an order made by a Court that directs a party/parties to do something. For example, the Court may order the parties to attend family dispute resolution, or produce a document.

Property Settlement – the division of property after a couple separate.

Recovery Order – an order made to return a child.

Registrar – a Court lawyer who has been delegated power to perform certain tasks; for example, sign consent orders and decide the next step in a case.

Respondent – a person named as a party to a case (other than the applicant).

Restraining Order – an order requiring a person not to do something.

Rules – a set of directions that outlines Court procedures and guidelines. The rules of the Family Court are the Family Law Rules 2004 and the rules of the Federal Magistrates Court are the Federal Magistrates Court Rules 2001.

Seal – means a stamp or other impression that the Court puts on a document to indicate that the document has been issued by the Court.

Sealed copy – means a document that bears a Court seal.

Service – the process of sending or giving Court documents to the other party to a case.

Spouse maintenance – money paid by a person to a former partner.

Superannuation Information Form – means a form approved by the Court for obtaining information from the trustee of a superannuation fund in family law cases


Sworn – for evidence, means an oath by a witness that the witness is telling the truth.

Subpoena – a document issued by a Court, at the request of a party, requiring a person to produce documents and/or give evidence to the Court.

Tender – for a hearing or trial — to hand a document to the judicial officer during the hearing or trial with a request that the document be filed or admitted into evidence.

Transcript – a record of the oral (spoken) evidence in a Court case.

Trial – means the event in Court before a Judge specifically fixed for determining a case.

Valuation – opinion about the market worth of an asset. Forensic valuation of a business analyses the financial statements and other records to assess the market value of the business.

Without prejudice – in relation to an offer to settle, means the offer made during settlement negotiations between parties may not be revealed to the Court (unless the parties agree otherwise) until the only outstanding issue is costs.