Some Things to Know

Throughout Australia, the Family Law Act 1975 (Commonwealth) is administered by the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and governs what happens with children when parents separate.

It’s also handy to know that some terms or phrases used currently in the family law system are different to those used in the past.

The phrase “lives with” relates to where a child will live, and with whom.  In the past this has been called residence or custody.

Where the phrase “spends time with” is used, it means the time the child spends with the parent that they don’t live with.  In the past this has been called contact or access.

The term “communicates with” relates to the child being in contact with another person on the telephone, by letter, email or SMS.


Please note – In Western Australia the Family Court system is a bit different to the rest of Australia. The Family Law Act 1975 (Commonwealth) is used in the Family Court of Western Australia for married people who want to divorce and make arrangements for children, property and spousal maintenance.  The Family Court of Western Australia uses the Family Court Act 1997 (WA) for arrangements for children of unmarried people.

If you, your partner or your children live in WA, be sure to check with a lawyer in that state for any WA specific information.