Jurisdiction of family law proceedings

Jurisdiction of family law proceedings

Choosing the appropriate state or territory

When deciding whether to start family law and/or child support proceedings in Victoria or another state or territory, a lawyer must consider both:

  • the appropriateness of the court location to the parties and to the children, and
  • limiting the expenses involved in calling witnesses and subpoenaing documents.

If the lawyer decides that the appropriate place to issue proceedings is outside of Victoria, they must apply for a grant of legal assistance through the legal aid commission in that state or territory. For more information, see Interstate matters.

The forum test

The forum test is one of the threshold tests that must be met in Commonwealth family law and child support matters. It is an aspect of the reciprocity agreement into which all legal aid commissions in Australia have entered. The test applies to any application for a grant of legal assistance, in whichever state or territory the person seeking assistance lives.

Issue proceedings in the lowest court with appropriate jurisdiction

We expect proceedings to be issued in the lowest court with appropriate jurisdiction to hear the matter.

If a lawyer chooses to issue proceedings in a higher court and the application for a grant of legal assistance is processed via the simplified grants assessment process, then the lawyer must keep on file a record of why they considered it appropriate to issue in that higher court.