The many stages in your family law matter

A family law dispute will have gone through many stages before it ends up at a final hearing. The purpose of this article is to describe the various stages of a family law matter.

A family law matter may settle and may be resolved at any time, during any of its stages.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia was established in September 2021[1]. New court rules[2] and practice directions[3] were introduced. These new rules and practice directions are very detailed and prescriptive and establish very clear stages in a family law dispute including some stages before parties commence Court proceedings.   

A major emphasis of the new rules and practice directions is the requirement at any of the various stages of a matter to attempt to resolve the dispute via negotiations.

The initial appointment
Pre Action procedures
Negotiating a Settlement Without Going to Court
Formalising an agreement legally without commencing Court proceedings
Initiating proceedings in Court
Court Events
The First Court Event
Interim Hearing
Private Mediation or Conciliation Conference Court
Compliance and Readiness Hearing
The Final Hearing
Normally, the length of time between the filing of an Initiating Application and the date of a final hearing in the Canberra Registry is about eighteen months. In other registries as for example in Sydney and Melbourne, the length of time is considerably longer.

One or several days may be allocated for the Final Hearing depending on the complexity of the matter.

We welcome your enquires with our Family Law Team.  We are committed to resolving your matter at the earliest stage possible in your Family Law dispute.   We will work with you to develop solutions to your problem and do our utmost to ensure that we do so in a timely and cost-effective manner.

We aim to resolve your matter amicably and through alternative dispute resolution, without the need to resort to costly and time-consuming litigation.  If we do need to engage in litigation for you, we are experienced and well equipped to defend your interests and progress your matter successfully through the Court system.

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Last Updated: 2022-04-24 11:32:17

[1] See our article about the new Court at:

[2] Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021; Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2) (Family Law) Rules 2021;Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2) (Bankruptcy) Rules 2021

[3]  See new Central Practice Direction – Family Law Case Management

[4] See Schedule 1 – “Pre Action-Procedures” to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021.

  1. In children’s matters, there is the additional requirement that parties attend mediation/counselling to resolve their dispute. Proceedings may only be commenced in Court only after an accredited Family Consultant has issued a certificate )a “section 60(I) Certificate – to the effect that the parties attended Mediaition or attempted to attend mediation and the Mediaition was unsuccessful or if mediation is inappropriate in that particular case.

[5] There are some exceptions to the requirement to comply with “pre action procedures” in some cases, for example, cases where is urgency, cases where there are allegations of child abuse and/or Domestic Violence.



[8] This does not apply to interim hearings which are scheduled for hearing at a time depending on the urgency of the matter.