Includes appeals from family law decisions made by federal magistrates (may be heard by a single Family Court judge or by the Full Court) and from decisions of single judges in the Family Court (heard by three or more judges).
Recent judgments of the Family Court of Australia are published on this website for two months only. All judgments from 2007 onwards and selected judgments from 1998-2006 are published permanently on the AustLII web site.
Judgments published on this website are anonymised by substituting pseudonyms for party names to protect the identity of parties.
Note: Section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 makes it an offence, except in very limited circumstances, to publish or distribute a report of a case or part of a case, including information contained in a Judgment, which identifies parties, related or associated persons, witnesses or others involved in the case. A breach of the section is a criminal offence. The section also sets out certain limited defences to criminal liability. An example is where the Court has expressly authorised the publication.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – Where the appellant has misconceived the nature and scope of an appeal – where no error is demonstrated in making the order the subject of the appeal – where it is apparent that the complaint relates to an earlier order and to a notation to the order the subject of the appeal – Appeal dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – APPLICATION IN AN APPEAL – Where the further evidence sought to be adduced does not demonstrate any error by the judge – Application dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – PROPERTY – ALTERATION OF PROPERTY INTERESTS – where the trial Judge ordered that the parties’ property interests be distributed 51:49 per cent in favour of the appellant husband – where the appellant challenges the trial Judge’s decision on a number of grounds – where the primary ground asserts error due to insufficient reasons – whether the trial Judge failed to provide sufficient reasons – where it is not apparent how the trial Judge reached the final percentage distribution – where the reasons were inadequate to explain the result and the orders emanating from it – appeal allowed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – CHILDREN – where the appellant father appeals orders providing the respondent mother with sole parental responsibility and providing for no time between the father and the parties’ four children – where the father’s primary challenge is to the weight given by the trial judge to certain evidence – whether the decision reached by the trial judge was plainly wrong – where the decision was open on the factual findings made by the trial judge, which were not challenged on appeal – where no error demonstrated – no order as to costs.
FAMILY COURT – COSTS – where appeal allowed – application for costs certificates – where parties presented orders to be made by consent at trial – where orders said to be defective such that appellate intervention warranted – that parties presented the orders about which complaint is made weighs against a certificate – application dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL – Application for leave to appeal from an appeal of an interlocutory decree – Where the application is opposed by the respondent – Where the appellant asserts an inability to comply with the orders of the trial judge – Where a lack of discernible reasons and necessary findings of fact worked a substantial injustice to the appellant – Leave granted.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL - Appeal against interim spousal maintenance and child support departure orders – Where the orders of the trial judge required the appellant to pay maintenance and child support exceeding his disclosed income – Where there was no finding as to the appellant’s ability to draw upon undisclosed financial resources - Where the trial judge made findings of credit against the appellant without reference to evidence in support of that conclusion – Where spouse maintenance was ordered to allow the respondent to undertake a course of training in circumstances where the respondent had confirmed no intention to re-enter the workforce – Appeal allowed – Remitted for rehearing.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – PROPERTY SETTLEMENT – Contributions – where the parties continued to be financially enmeshed post separation – where the husband made all financial contributions – s 75(2) relevant considerations – when separation was not at the same time as financial separation.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – COST CERTIFICATES – Where an appeal was allowed in part and orders were made varying the trial Judge’s orders to allow the parties liberty to apply on discrete issues that had not been determined at trial – Two parties and the Independent Children’s Lawyer sought costs certificates under s 6(1) and s 8(1) of the Federal Proceedings (Costs) Act 1981 (Cth) – Whether there was a “new trial” within the meaning of s 8(1) – The orders, properly construed, involved the granting of a new trial – Basis for granting costs certificates under both provisions established.
FAMILY LAW – APPLICATION IN AN APPEAL – Where stay of trial judge’s orders sought – Where counsel for applicant sought application be withdrawn – Where the application was not properly brought – Application dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPLICATION IN AN APPEAL – COSTS – Where the application could not succeed –The costs of the respondent to the application in an appeal be paid by the applicant.
FAMILY LAW – APPLICATION IN AN APPEAL – Application for extension of time to file notice of appeal – Where the respondent opposed the extension of time being granted - Where the delay is insubstantial and adequately explained – Where the applicant did not contribute to the delay - Where the applicant’s solicitor took full responsibility – Where there are sufficient potential grounds of appeal which have merit – Where the refusal of leave is likely to cause an injustice – Application granted.
FAMILY LAW – APPLICATION IN AN APPEAL – COSTS – Where the respondent sought that the applicant pay costs on an indemnity basis – Where there are no extraordinary features to justify an order for indemnity costs – Where the applicant seeks the indulgence of the court - The applicant to pay the costs of the respondent at an amount fixed by the court.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – CHILDREN – With whom a child lives – family violence – Whether the trial judge failed to have any or any proper regard to the provisions of sections 61D and 65DAC of the Family Law Act – Whether the trial judge failed to give any or any adequate reasons for the orders made by her – Whether the trial judge orders are inconsistent with the findings made by her as to the relationship between the parties and the best interests of the child – where the appeal is dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – Delay – where there was delay in delivering judgment – Whether the trial judge should have invited further submissions from either party on any changed circumstances before delivering judgment – where the appeal is dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – Self represented litigants – assistance from the bench – Whether the trial judge failed to provide to the appellant notice of his right to cross examine – where the appeal is dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – COSTS – where a party was wholly unsuccessful – where the unsuccessful party is to pay costs of and incidental to the appeal.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – RE-EXERCISE – Where the Full Court had previously found that the trial Judge had erred in the exercise of his discretion – where submissions were sought concerning the re-exercise of the discretion – where the husband had made repeated representations over many years that the wife could retain all of the property in Australia – where the husband had delayed commencing proceedings until almost the expiration of the limitation period – where all the property is held in the name of the wife – where it would not be just and equitable to make any order interfering with existing property interests – husband’s application for adjustment of property interests dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – PROPERTY SETTLEMENT – Where the trial judge found there was sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption of advancement – Where the trial judge found the wife was holding a beneficial interest in two properties by way of common intention constructive trust – Whether the trial judge failed to give adequate weight to certain evidence – Whether reasons for judgment were adequate – No error found in the trial judge’s assessment of the evidence – Appeal dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – PROPERTY – ALTERATION OF PROPERTY INTERESTS – Where it was submitted by the appellant wife that the trial judge erred by determining that she was not seeking to have paid to her more than $100,000 – Where the Full Court found the trial judge had so erred.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – Re-exercise of discretion – where neither party sought to adduce further evidence for the purpose of the re-exercise of the trial judge’s decision – On findings of fact, assessment of assets and contributions of the parties by the trial judge – where the wife receives a further amount of $285,125 and the wife has already received $100,000 of that amount – where costs certificate to issue to the wife.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – CHILDREN – Parenting orders – Adequacy of reasons.
FAMILY LAW – CHILDREN – With whom a child lives – With whom a child spends time -Separation of siblings.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – leave to appeal – interlocutory application – against the inclusion of second respondent – procedural fairness.
FAMILY LAW – PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – Joinder –– whether there is a requirement to notify proposed respondent of joinder – where a joinder is a procedural order.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – application for adjournment - application for leave to appeal from procedural orders.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – Procedure – Costs – Appeal against decision of trial judge granting leave to extend time to file an itemised bill of costs – where no satisfactory explanation for lengthy delay – appeal allowed – trial judge’s discretion re-exercised.
FAMILY LAW – COSTS CERTIFICATES – Where the appeal was allowed on a question of law – Each party granted costs certificates pursuant to the Federal Proceedings (Costs) Act 1981 (Cth).
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – AMENDED NOTICE OF APPEAL – where the appellant seeks to appeal final parenting orders made following the dismissal of his application for want of prosecution and leave being granted to the respondent to proceed on an undefended basis – where the appellant complains that there was a denial of procedural fairness – where the respondent opposes the appeal – where the Independent Children’s Lawyer did not appear at the hearing of the appeal because of the unavailability of legal aid but had supported the final parenting orders made – where there is no merit in any of the grounds of appeal – appeal dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – AMENDED NOTICE OF APPEAL – COSTS – where the respondent seeks her costs in the event that the appeal is dismissed – where the appellant opposed any order for costs – where impecuniosity is no bar to an order for costs being made – where the appellant has been wholly unsuccessful – costs ordered in favour of the respondent.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – AMENDED APPLICATION IN AN APPEAL – where the applicant seeks a number of orders but only the order seeking an extension of time to appeal orders made on 1 July and 30 August 2013 can be pursued – where the application is opposed – where the documents filed in support of the application are difficult to understand and impossible to disentangle – where the interests of justice require that the application be refused – application dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – AMENDED APPLICATION IN AN APPEAL – COSTS – where the respondent seeks his costs – where the applicant opposes that application – where the applicant has failed to comply with a least two previous orders for costs – where there are circumstances that justify an order for costs being made – where impecuniosity is no bar to an order for costs – costs ordered in favour of the respondent.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – CHILD SUPPORT – Where the Child Support Registrar sought leave to appeal, and if leave granted, to appeal orders of a Federal Magistrate upholding an appeal by the respondent to this appeal against a decision of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) which increased the respondent’s child support liability – Where appeals from the SSAT are confined to questions of law – Where the Child Support Registrar argues that the Federal Magistrate erred in his interpretation of s 103X(3)(b) of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 (Cth) – Where the Child Support Registrar argues that the Federal Magistrate’s interpretation of s 103X(3)(b) allowed a review of the adequacy of the SSAT’s reasons and therefore transgressed “the dichotomy between an appeal on a question of law and an assessment of the merits of the case” – Where the Full Court found that the Federal Magistrate had so erred – Where the Full Court also sets out the statutory process governing appeals from the SSAT – Leave granted because the matters raised on appeal are of considerable general importance – Appeal allowed – No order for costs.
FAMILY LAW – APPLICATION IN AN APPEAL – Application to extend time to file a Notice of Appeal – Where granting of leave is not automatic and involves the exercise of discretion – Where the applicant failed to establish an adequate explanation for his failure to apply for an extension of time – Where consideration of the grounds of appeal find that it would not be an injustice to the applicant to not grant an extension of time.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – APPLICATION IN AN APPEAL – where the applicant seeks to extend the time to file a Notice of Appeal – where the first respondent initially opposed the application but then consented to the order sought during the hearing – extension of time granted.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – APPLICATION IN AN APPEAL – COSTS – where the applicant seeks costs in light of the late consent by the first respondent to the granting of an extension of time to file the Notice of Appeal – where there are circumstances justifying an order for costs – costs ordered as sought by the applicant.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – APPLICATION IN AN APPEAL – where the applicant seeks to extend the time to file a Notice of Appeal – where the respondent opposes the application – where there is an adequate explanation for the timeframe for the filing of a Notice of Appeal not being complied with – where it is not apparent that the appeal is hopeless or doomed to fail – where there are consequences for both parties in the granting or refusing of the application – extension of time granted.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL FROM DECISION OF FEDERAL MAGISTRATE – CHILDREN – Where parenting orders were made placing the children predominantly in the care of the father – Where one child had special needs – Where the mother had previously placed the children in the father’s care – Where there had been a change in the mother’s circumstances since the children were placed in the father’s care – Where the father was found to have a greater capacity to parent the children – Where the decision was open on the evidence – Where the reasoning process was revealed by the reasons for judgment – No miscarriage of discretion – Appeal dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL FROM DECISION OF FEDERAL MAGISTRATE – COSTS – Where the mother applied to have the appeal reinstated – Where it could not be said that the outcome of the appeal was a foregone conclusion – No order as to the costs of the appeal – Mother to pay father’s costs of application to reinstate appeal.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – INJUNCTION – where wife applied for orders restraining husband from publishing information relating to property settlement proceedings in which they were involved – where the injunctive relief sought by wife closely reflected the provisions of s 121 of Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) – where trial judge refused to grant the injunction on the basis, inter alia, that the protections sought by the wife were provided by s 121 – appeal by wife – whether an injunction lies to prevent a threatened or anticipated breach of s 121 – held that, except in special circumstances, an injunction merely restating the effect of s 121 is unnecessary and undesirable – consideration of what might amount to "special circumstances" – wife failed to demonstrate the existence of special circumstances that would have justified a departure from the general principle to the effect that an injunction merely restating the effect of s 121 is unnecessary and undesirable – appeal dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL FROM A DECISION OF A FEDERAL CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE – Application for extension of time to file an appeal against an order dismissing a contravention application – Where the first instance judge dismissed the contravention application without hearing - Where the contravention application was drafted incorrectly and found by the judge to be fatally flawed – Where the husband knew of the time limit but could not afford to pay the appeal filing fee – Where a lack of procedural fairness was established but the possible merits of the appeal is the central question – Where the appeal is doomed to fail - Application dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – LEAVE TO APPEAL/APPEAL – where the appellant seeks to appeal orders made by the Federal Magistrate (as he then was) dismissing his application in a case filed on 22 October 2012 and the respondent’s application for costs – where it is clearly a mistake by the appellant to seek to appeal the latter order – where the application for leave to appeal relies on the success of the grounds of appeal in establishing errors of principle – where there is no merit in any of the grounds of appeal – application for leave to appeal dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – LEAVE TO APPEAL/APPEAL – COSTS – where the respondent seeks an order for costs in the event that the application for leave is dismissed or if leave is granted and the appeal dismissed – where the applicant opposes the respondent being granted an order for costs – where the appellant has been wholly unsuccessful – where there are circumstances which justify an order for costs being made as sought by the respondent – costs so ordered.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – NOTICE OF APPEAL – where the husband appeals the orders of the Federal Magistrate (as she then was) made on 25 October 2012 – where the wife opposes the appeal – where the husband has not complied with the orders for the filing of the transcript of the hearing before the Federal Magistrate and for the filing of a summary of argument – where there has been no appearance at the hearing by or on behalf of the husband – appeal dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – APPLICATION IN AN APPEAL – where the mother seeks to extend the time to file a Notice of Appeal against the orders of Cronin J made 6 August 2013 – where the father opposes the application – where the mother has not complied with the orders for the filing of a draft Notice of Appeal – where there has been no appearance at the hearing by or on behalf of the mother – application dismissed.
FAMILY LAW - APPEAL – STAY OF ORDERS – Where the wife appeals against the refusal by the trial judge to stay property orders – Whether refusal of stay would render successful appeal nugatory - Where no contention that the trial judge made an error of law – Where no error demonstrated in the exercise of discretion by trial judge – appeal dismissed.
FAMILY LAW - APPEAL – FURTHER EVIDENCE – Where the wife seeks to adduce further evidence – Where the respondents oppose application – Where the wife asserts that further evidence establishes that subject property is now substantially below value than at trial – Where evidence inadmissible – application refused.
FAMILY LAW - APPEAL – COSTS – Where respondents sought wife pay their costs of the appeal and application to adduce further evidence – Where wife has been wholly unsuccessful – Where order of costs justified pursuant to Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) s 117(2) – Where no justification for an order for costs between the appellant and intervener - Wife pay husband’s costs – No order for costs between wife and intervener.
FAMILY LAW - APPEAL – CHILDREN – Appeal against trial judge’s decision not to stay orders pending substantive appeal – Where stay appeal resolved by consent between parties – Appeal dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – CHILDREN – Application for expedition of substantive appeal – Where the appellant alleges sexual abuse of the child – Where the appellant submits that that the trial judge made serious errors in conducting the trial – Where the respondent and independent children’s lawyer do not oppose expedition -Application granted.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – RELOCATION – ADJOURNMENT – Where the mother appeals against orders of the trial judge adjourning her application for interim orders permitting her to relocate with the child from 21 November 2013 to 6 February 2014 for “further consideration and possible further hearing” – Where the mother alleges the trial judge failed to give sufficient consideration to evidence of the mother’s general practitioner – Where the Full Court found there was no basis on which to interfere with the trial judge’s discretionary decision to adjourn the matter – Appeal dismissed – No order for costs.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – DISQUALIFICATION – Where the mother appeals against orders dismissing her application for the trial judge to disqualify herself – Where the mother complains that she was unable to make proper argument without transcript of a previous hearing and that the trial judge failed to give adequate reasons for her refusal to disqualify herself – Where the Full Court found no merit in these complaints – Appeal dismissed – No order for costs.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – RELOCATION – Where the mother appeals orders of the trial judge requiring that the child be returned to his usual town of residence after the mother unilaterally relocated the child to another town – Where the mother alleges that the trial judge failed to consider the mother’s medical evidence, failed to further consider the mother’s application to relocate, failed to give notice to the parties as to which material she would rely on and failed to consider the best interests of the child – Where the Full Court found no merit in these complaints – Appeal dismissed – No order for costs.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – SECURITY FOR COSTS – where the respondent in the appeal seeks security for costs – where counsel for the applicant says that the application should succeed because the appeal has limited prospects of success and there is an unpaid costs order – where the respondent is not in a position to meet any order for security for costs – where the appeal is not devoid of all merit – where an order for security for costs will stifle the appeal – where the application for security for costs was filed some seven months after the Notice of Appeal – where the appeal is listed to commence on 17 December 2013 and would have to be adjourned if the security for costs application was successful – application dismissed.
FAMILY LAW – APPEAL – COSTS – where the respondent seeks his costs of and incidental to the application – where the respondent submits that the costs of the application should be costs in the cause – costs be costs in the cause.
FAMILY COURT – APPEAL – APPLICATION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME – where the applicant seeks an extension of time to appeal the orders of Federal Magistrate Brown (as he then was) made on 15 May 2009 – where proceedings before a judge at first instance were dismissed as a result of a misconception or misunderstanding that the applicant had an appeal before the court – where the applicant misunderstands what the appeal process is about – where an appeal is not the correct process to achieve the outcomes sought by the applicant – where the applicant has not demonstrated a basis for an extension of time to appeal – application dismissed.