Children: My application is urgent

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You can ask the Court to list your application urgently by seeking an interlocutory order that the matter be given an urgent listing.

If you are seeking an urgent listing when you are first applying for parenting orders, you should include the urgent application in the interlocutory orders sought in your Initiating Application. If proceedings for parenting orders have already been started, you need to make your urgent application by filing an Application in a proceeding.

An urgent application must be accompanied by:

  • an Affidavit – Family law and child support stating the facts you rely on in support of the urgent application. If you are filing an affidavit with your Initiating application in any event, you can address the urgency of your application in that affidavit; you do not need to file a separate affidavit about urgency)
  • a copy of the most recent family violence order (if applicable)
  • a Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence or Risk (if not previously filed in the proceedings), and
  • a cover letter as to urgency, outlining the nature of the application, and the basis upon which an urgent listing is required. The cover letter should refer to specific paragraphs of the affidavit on which you rely in support of the urgent application.

The Court may require you to file the other documents set out at paragraph 2.5 of the Family Law Practice Direction: Parenting Proceedings at a future date.

You can ask the Court to consider an urgent application by seeking appropriately worded orders, and providing evidence in a supporting affidavit outlining why the Court should list the matter for an early hearing date, or make an urgent order. The Court will consider the application based on the evidence provided, and will notify you of any further requirements or a listing date.

I want my application to be heard without notice to the other party

In extremely urgent situations, you can seek an urgent order to be made ex parte. This means the Court would deal with the matter immediately, and without notice to the other party.

Ex parte orders are usually only granted in matters where you can substantiate urgency by seeking appropriately worded urgent orders in the application. You will need to explain the grounds on which you are seeking urgent orders in your supporting affidavit.

When applying for ex parte orders, you must comply with rule 5.11 of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021.

Critical Incident List

The Court has established a Critical Incident List for applications that are filed in circumstances where no parent is available to care for a child or children, as a result of death (including homicide), critical injury or incarceration relating to a family violence incident. This List can be used when orders are sought for parental responsibility so that appropriate arrangements to be made for the child or children, such as engaging with schools or health care providers.

The procedure to apply to the Critical Incident List is set out in Family Law Practice Direction: Critical Incident List.

What if the Court is not open when I need to make an urgent application?

The Court has an out-of-hours service for emergencies: that is, if there is a risk that a child may be taken out of the country before the next working day.

Call the Court on 1300 352 000 and you will be referred to this emergency number.

Legal advice

You are not required to be represented by a lawyer, or to seek legal advice, before entering into consent orders or applying to the Court, or if you have been served with an application. However, family law is complex, and getting legal advice will help you to better understand your rights and responsibilities.

Practice directions

Practice directions are procedural guidelines issued by the Court. They complement legislation, rules and regulations. They provide specific direction about the practice and procedure that must be followed in certain types of proceedings.

Practice directions are issued by the Chief Justice/Chief Judge upon advice of judges of the Court, pursuant to the Court’s inherent power to control its own processes, as well as the power under the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Act 2021 for the Court to give directions about the practice and procedure to be followed in a proceeding.

In general, practice directions are issued to:

  • complement particular legislative provisions or rules of court
  • set out more detailed procedures for particular types of proceedings, and
  • notify parties and their lawyers of matters which require their attention.

Below are links to the practice directions that apply to this area of law: