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Family law

The Magistrates’ Court can hear some family law matters about parenting and property. 

See the family violence interventions orders page for information about family violence. 

Parenting and property matters can be complex. Victoria Legal Aid have developed a booklet for people seeking information about family law. See the Victoria Legal Aid website for more information.

The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria does not deal with divorces and some venues may not hear family law matters. See the Federal Circuit Court of Australia website for information about divorces. 

There may also be a filing fee for lodging a family law application. See the Federal Circuit Court of Australia website for more information.    

Parenting orders

A parenting order is a set of orders made by a court about parenting arrangements for a child.

The Magistrates’ Court can make a parenting order based on an agreement between parties. These are called consent orders. 

Where parties can’t agree, the court can make an interim parenting order. The matter will then go to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia for a final decision. 

When making a parenting order, the court will consider the best interests of the child. 

Parenting orders can outline:

  • who the child lives with
  • how much time the child will spend with each parent and their families
  • how the child will communicate with a parent they do not live with
  • information about the welfare or development of the child. 

A recovery order can also be made if a child has been taken or not returned as set out by a parenting order. A recovery order can require the return of the child or authorise the police to recover the child. 

Family violence intervention orders and parenting orders

Normally, a parenting order will override an intervention order. This is unless a magistrate decides to revive, change or suspend the parenting order for a limited time as part of the intervention order. An intervention order does not stop a – the person who the order is against – from applying for a parenting order.   

Property orders

The Magistrates’ Court can hear property matters up to the value of $20,000 or to an unlimited value if the parties agree:

  • to the court hearing the matter 
  • about the division of property.  

The court will only make an order it considers it to be fair according to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and will consider:

  • how much each person can earn in the future
  • the age and health of each person
  • who takes care of the children 
  • the length of the relationship
  • any other factors affecting fairness.
Last updated on 14 Jul 2022
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