International Family Law Lawyers

Jurisdiction of the Family Court of Australia

The Family Court of Australia has jurisdiction over all marriage-related cases in all States and Territories of Australia, except Western Australia which has its own Family Court. The Family Court's jurisdiction covers Applications for Divorce, Property Settlement, Maintenance, Child Support, Parenting and Residence/ Living Arrangements with respect to children.  As long as there is some real connection to Australia, the Family Court will usually exercise its jurisdiction if called upon to do so.

International Property Settlement Jurisdiction

The Family Court of Australia has the power to make decisions about any property that is owned by the parties to the marriage (or de facto relationship), including any property held outside of Australia.  The Family Law Act provides that parties may commence court proceedings for property settlement in the relevant Australian Family Law Court if either party to the marriage is, at the time of institution of proceedings:

1. An Australian citizen; or

2. Ordinarily resident in Australia; or

3. Present in Australia at the relevant date

Once jurisdiction is established by virtue of the above, the next question to be determined is whether the Australian Court should exercise jurisdiction.  A court may decline to exercise jurisdiction in circumstances where an Australian Family Law Court is clearly an inappropriate forum for the subject matter of the proceedings.  For example, if both parties are living outside Australia in Ireland and the only property of the parties consists of real estate in Ireland, it is likely that an Australian Court would decline to exercise jurisdiction as the Irish Court would clearly be the most appropriate Court to deal with the matter. 

International Divorce

It is possible to apply for a Divorce in Australia, even if you and/or your spouse are not currently living in Australia.

You can apply for a divorce in Australia if either you or your spouse:

  • regard Australia as your home and intend to live in Australia indefinitely, or
  • are an Australian citizen by birth, descent or by grant of Australian citizenship, or
  • ordinarily live in Australia and have done so for 12 months immediately before filing for divorce

Please go to our Divorce section of this Website for further information as to the requirements for a Divorce in Australia.

Child Abduction

In the event of child abduction, you should obtain immediate specialist legal advice. Usually, a family lawyer would file an application in the Family Court seeking the return of the child. The Court has wide powers to locate and return the child. If a child has been taken and his/her whereabouts are unknown, the Court has the power to order individuals and government departments to search their records and give the Court any details that they have as to the location of the child.

If you believe a child is under threat of being illegally taken out of Australia, take immediate action. Once a child is out of the Australian jurisdiction, they become subject to the laws of other countries or subject to international conventions. It depends on the country to which the child is taken as to whether the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction applies. In certain circumstances, urgent injunctions to restrain departure from Airports and other departure points may be obtained from the Family Court. Also, be aware that the Family Court has an after-hours emergency phone service, which can be used in the event that you become aware of an imminent illegal departure and an Injunction needs to be obtained prior to the Family Court re-opening on the next business day.

Hague Convention Countries

These are countries that have agreed to be bound by a convention dealing with international child abduction. The main aim of the Hague Convention is to facilitate the prompt return of children wrongly removed to another convention country. Australia is a convention country but not all countries are. If a child is taken from Australia to another convention country there are procedures in place between Governments under the Hague Convention whereby the child may be returned to Australia. 

Auditore Pty Ltd trading as Melbourne Family Lawyers have been dealing with International Family Law cases since 1985. Auditore regularly act for Overseas Clients seeking Legal Advice and Court Representation in International Family Law Cases.  Also, the Firm's Director, Silvio Auditore, has represented the Australian Government in International Child Abduction cases under the Hague Convention.  One of our Senior Consultant Lawyers, Alison Loach, continues to hold a New Zealand Lawyer Practising Certificate which enables her to advise with respect to New Zealand Family Law, and also witness and certify New Zealand legal documentation including Relationship Property Agreements.  

If you need the best available expert legal advice in relation to International Family Law, call Melbourne Family Lawyers on +613 9670 9677 or contact us by email.

Melbourne Family Lawyers since 1985.

For more information on Childrens Matters please go to our Reading Room

International Family Law Lawyers Articles

  • Recognition of Foreign Marriages and Same-Sex Divorces in Australia 9 March 2018 - We are often asked about whether Marriages which originated outside Australia are recognised under the Family Law of Australia.
  • Melbourne Family Lawyers Win International Parenting Dispute for Mother in Family Court of Australia at Melbourne 31 October 2017 - Alison Loach, a Senior Consultant with Melbourne Family Lawyers, advised a client that she had a strong case and that she should pursue the case all the way through to a final hearing before Justice Austin in the Family Court of Australia.
  • Can I apply for a Divorce if I am no longer living in Australia? 5 October 2016 - Melbourne Family Lawyers represents many clients who do not live in Australia. If you are living overseas, we can still represent you and apply for a Divorce in Australia under certain circumstances.
  • Melbourne Family Court allows Mother and Child’s Relocation to USA 21 June 2016 - In January 2015, our client, 30 year old USA citizen Miranda (not her real name) was referred to Melbourne Family Lawyers by United States Embassy staff in Melbourne, as her marriage to her 35 yo Australian Husband, Bruce (not his real name) had broken down. Miranda’s legal problem was that she wanted to return home to the United States, with her 3 year old daughter, but her Husband objected to such an arrangement.
  • The Best Family Law Advice from Melbourne Family Lawyers 20 July 2015 - At Melbourne Family Lawyers, we don’t offer a “free” first consultation and use it to market our services to you. The first meeting with one of our lawyers is scheduled for one hour because we know it will take a bit of time to listen to your story so that we can understand your situation and what is important to you and what you would like to achieve.
  • Beware of Family Lawyers offering Free Initial Consultations 26 November 2014 - Have you come across the recent advertising from Family Lawyers offering “free initial consultations”? Have you stopped to think why those lawyers are doing that?
  • Winning International Child Custody Cases 8 May 2014 - At Melbourne Family Lawyers, we like to win the Court Cases which cannot be settled out of Court! This year we have had great success in running (and winning) two cases in the Federal Circuit Court involving young mothers wanting to return to their overseas country of origin with their young children. These cases needed to be decided by a Judge as the children’s parents could not come to an agreement as to with whom, or where, the child should live.
  • What to Expect from a Family Lawyer 8 November 2013 - A Family Lawyer will advise you as to his or her opinion as to where you stand when applying the applicable Family Law to your particular situation. However, a Family Lawyer will never be able to provide you with a definitive outcome in your case as the outcome of your case will depend on the following.
  • How do I settle my Family Law Custody Dispute in Melbourne if I am overseas or interstate? 22 July 2013 - The Family Law Courts in Melbourne (being the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia) have jurisdiction to determine a Family Law dispute if at least one of the parties to the dispute is either.
  • Which Family Law Court in Melbourne? 8 April 2013 - Clients are sometimes confused about which Family Law Court is appropriate to hear their case in Melbourne. This is understandable as there are three separate courts on the same street in Melbourne which have jurisdiction on Family Law related issues.
  • Can I move out of Victoria without a Family Law Court Order? 1 March 2013 - Whether you are allowed to move out of your current home to a new place depends on a number of factors.
  • Can I apply for a Divorce in Australia if I was married overseas? 1 February 2013 - An Australian Court has the jurisdiction to grant a Divorce if you were married outside of Australia, as long as at least one of the following pre-conditions apply:
  • Finding the Best Family Law Firm in Melbourne 15 January 2013 - So your spouse has just announced, "It's over!" and you need to find a law firm to help guide you through one of the most stressful situations you are going to face. Where do you start? Do you go back to your local conveyancing law firm who looked after the purchase of your home?
  • Social Networks - a Divorce Lawyer’s Nightmare or Dream- depending whose side you are on! 11 April 2012 - Watch Out- Social Networks- A Divorce Lawyers Nightmare (or Dream) What you say on FaceBook or Twitter may well end up as evidence in the Family Law Courts!
  • Family Law Disclosure Rules 22 January 2009 - A direct extract from Family Law Rules- Parts 13.1 and 13.2
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