Legal jargon can be confusing.

At East Coast Family Lawyers we aim to use ‘plain English’ with our clients, but there is certain terminology used by the Courts that can leave you wondering what it all means. 

Here are some of the most commonly used terms in Family Law, and what they mean:

Affidavit – A written statement by a party or a witness. It is the main way of presenting facts by a person in Court.

Case Management Directions – A set of Directions about how cases are managed by the Court to help the parties involved achieve a resolution in a prompt and economical manner. It is the Court’s ‘To Do List’ for each matter.  

Child Dispute Conference – A Child Dispute Conference is provided by family consultants who are employed by the Courts and trained in social work or psychology. This service aims to assist parents and carers better understand the needs of their children. This service is not confidential or privileged. Information obtained through this interviews with parents, children and any other party involved is admissible in Court.

Consent Orders – These Orders may be made when the parties come to an agreement and lodge that agreement in writing (commonly called Terms of Settlement) for approval by the Court. This has the effect of bringing an end to the proceedings. 

Conciliation Conference – A conference organized by legally trained Registrars of the Court. It involves all parties and their lawyers. The aim of these conferences is to resolve financial disputes.

Contravention – When a Court finds a party has not followed a Court Order, that party has then breached (or contravened) the Order.

Family Report – A report that focuses on the best interests of the children from a non-legal and independent perspective using a behavioral science assessment. Family Reports are ordered by a Judge or Registrar and are undertaken by Court employed family consultants or approved private report writers.

Interim Application – An application for an Order intended to continue until a further Order of the Court. These are usually sought  in the initial stages to put Orders in place for children or financial matters. 

Judgment – A decision of Judge, judicial Registrar or Registrar at a Hearing.

Magellan – A case management system designed to ensure that matters involving allegations of serious child abuse are dealt with as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Order – The Court has the power to Order a person to do certain things. Judicial Registrars and Registrars can only make certain types of Orders.

Registrar – A Court lawyer with expertise in Family Law who exercises power delegated by the Judges of the Court.

Registry – An office of the Court that files Court documents or accepts Court documents for filing.

Rules – The Family Law Rules, sometimes called Rules of the Court, set out key obligations such as what forms must be used, when they must be filed and any other requirements of the Courts.

Sealed Copy – A document that has been filed in Court and has a Court seal (stamp) on it.

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

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

Trial – The final Hearing of a matter before a Judge. Having considered all the evidence presented, the Judge will make Orders to finalise the matter.

For a more extensive list of Terms, visit the Family Court of Australia’s website here

If you have any questions arising from the above, feel free to contact Kathy Matri or Kristina Kuskoff on (02) 4322 0251 for a telephone consultation.