Court Events

Initial Procedural Hearing  -  Parenting Case

A registrar will conduct your procedural hearing. The purpose of the initial procedural hearing in a parenting case is to ensure your case is ready to proceed and is appropriate case to be decided in the Family Court.

The party applying for orders will generally have filed;

  • The form, Initiating Application (Family Law).
  • A family dispute resolution certificate (sometimes referred to as section 60I certificate) (unless exemption is granted).
  • If there are allegations of child abuse or family violence relevant to whether the court should grant or refuse the application, a Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence, or Risk of Family Violence (Form 4) with an affidavit setting out the evidence on which the allegations in the form are based.
  • If interim orders are applied for, an affidavit.

Each other party is to file at least seven days before the procedural hearing:

  • The form, Response to Initiating Application (Family Law)
  • Family dispute resolution cerificate (sometimes referred to as section 60I certificate) (unless exemption is granted).
  • If there are allegations of child abuse or family violence relevant to whether the court should grant or refuse the application, a Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence, or Risk of Family Violence (Form 4) with an affidavit setting out the evidence on which the allegations in the form are based.
  • If interim orders are applied for, an affidavit.

Any interim applications which need to be decided by the Court before a final hearing may be listed before a judge for a decision.

For copies of the forms above, see the Forms section of the Family Law website.

Next step?

The step after the procedural hearing in a parenting case is that all parties attend the child responsive program at a date appointed by the registrar.

Child Responsive Program

The child responsive program involves a series of meetings between a family consultant, the parents (and/or other carers) and the children. The meetings focus on the children’s needs and the aim is to assist parents and the Court to achieve the best outcomes for the children. The family consultant cannot keep private or confidential any information and will report to the court about the meetings.

Intake and assessment meeting with each party

The family consultant meets separately with each parent to find out about the children.

Child and family meeting

Child and family meetings usually start with the family consultant meeting briefly with the parents and then spending some time with the children, both individually and together if there is more than one child. Children are given the opportunity to talk about their feelings and experiences of their family and what it is like for them now that their parents are not living together. The family consultant then provides feedback to the parents about the children’s experiences and views and gives the parents an opportunity to discuss future arrangements for their children.

Selective settlement meeting

After the child and family meeting, the family consultant and the parents may consider that a settlement meeting with the family consultant, the parents and their legal representatives would assist making arrangements for the children.

If the family consultant does not consider that a settlement meeting would assist in making arrangements that would be in the best interests of children, the case will proceed to a less adversial trial.

A children and parents issues assessment

A children and parents issues assessment is prepared by the family consultant following the child and family meeting. The written assessment will provide a summary of the main issues identified in relation the children and parents, the feedback provided to the parents about the children and the subsequent discussions. The assessment will be made available to the parents, the legal representatives and the Court.

Next step?

You will attend a procedural hearing with a registrar.

For more information about ‘the Child Responsive Program’ and Family consultants go to Publications section of the Family Law website.

Procedural hearing after the child responsive program

A registrar conducts your procedural hearing in a parenting case as soon as possible after you have completed the child responsive program

What happens at the procedural hearing after the child responsive program?

The registrar:

  • reviews the children and parents issues assessment
  • makes procedural orders to progress the case to a first day before the judge
  • allocates a date for the first day of trial

The orders made by the registrar may include the following matters:

  • referring the parties to family counselling, family dispute resolution or other family services
  • appointing an independent children’s lawyer
  • directing each party to complete a Parenting Questionnaire at least 28 days before the first day before the judge.

The trial (hearing) fee must be paid within the time directed (or an application made for a fee exemption or waiver). See Fees section of the Family Law website. The person who started the case (the applicant) is usually (but not always) the one who pays the fee. If the fee is not paid within the time allowed the trial may be cancelled.

The registrar may also order the parties to attend a compliance check (generally by telephone) about 21 days before the first day before the judge to ensure all orders have been complied with.

What is the next step?

The next step is that the parties attend the first day of trial before the judge (the start of the less adversarial trial).

At least 28 days before the first day before the judge each party must complete, serve and file a Parenting Questionnaire. Forms are available from the Forms section from the Family Law website.

(From Family Law Courts website)