Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court

The Family Court works on the basis of ‘disclosure’—that parties must give full and frank disclosure in a timely manner to the Court and to the other party of all information relevant to the case. The jurisdiction conferred on the Federal Magistrates Court overlaps with that of the Family Court, but discovery in relation to proceedings in the Federal Magistrates Court is not allowed unless the Court or a Federal Magistrate declares that it is appropriate, in the interests of the administration of justice, to allow it. To resolve the tension between the differing scope of access to disclosure in the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court in respect of similar types of family law matters, the ALRC recommends reform to promote parties’ right to disclosure of documents in the Federal Magistrates Court’s family law jurisdiction. Such reform will ensure that access to disclosable documents in family law cases before the Federal Magistrates Court is consistent with the Family Court, so that disclosure of documents is not contingent upon any action of the Federal Magistrates Court.[35]

[35] Rec 5–3.