Guide for parties in the Evatt List

The Evatt List is a specialist list developed by the Courts where a highly qualified team of Senior Judicial Registrars, Judicial Registrars, Court Child Experts and court staff, in consultation with Judges, are allocated to manage eligible cases that are considered to be high risk, through more intensive case management and resources.

1. What is the Evatt List?

1.1 The Evatt List is an initiative of the Courts where a highly qualified team of Senior Judicial Registrars, Evatt Judicial Registrars, Court Child Experts and court staff, in consultation with Judges, are allocated to help progress a matter that is identified as being high risk. There are various court events that take place for these matters, with a view to finalising matters in a safe and timely manner.

1.2 The Evatt List has been created by the Courts to ensure that families at high risk are provided with appropriate resources and support and to promote safety and wellbeing. It also aims to manage matters as efficiently and effectively as possible.

1.3 You may be included in the Evatt List only if:

  • your matter is for either parenting orders only or parenting and financial orders, and
  • you are eligible for and have competed the Family DOORS Triage Risk screening and returned a ‘high risk’ screening classification.

In these circumstances an Evatt Judicial Registrar will review the matter and determine whether it is appropriate for the Evatt List.

1.4 Any information disclosed or provided during the risk screening process is confidential and inadmissible under Part IIA of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). This means that:

  • you cannot be asked to disclose whether or not you undertook risk screening
  • the risk screen answers, classification and referrals made as a result of the screening process cannot be used as evidence in a proceeding
  • information shared or provided by a party to a Triage Counsellor (acting in the role of family counsellor) in the course of conducting risk screening cannot be disclosed, or used as evidence.

However, there are some exceptions to disclosure, and we encourage you to speak to your legal representative or seek legal advice if you have any concerns.

2. The Evatt List team

2.1 The Evatt List involves a dedicated specialist team, including highly skilled and trained Senior Judicial Registrars (SJR), Judicial Registrars and Court Child Experts who, in consultation with Judges, have close oversight of the matters in the list. The team approach is adaptable and flexible to the requirements of each particular matter.

2.2 A Court Child Expert from Court Children’s Service may also be involved to prepare a report for the Judge or SJR. See the Court Child Experts brochure for more information.

2.3 You may have regular contact with the Evatt Judicial Registrar who is there to make sure the matter is running smoothly through the Court process. The Evatt Judicial Registrar is an officer of the Court, with specialist experience in family violence and court procedure. The Evatt Judicial Registrar will check that orders have been followed by all parties and that any information the Court needs to make a decision is available for the Judge or SJR.

3. The events that take place in the Evatt List

3.1 A broad summary of the events that take place in the Evatt List are:

Evatt determination event to Evatt First return event to Interim hearing to Dispute resolution (where appropriate) to Specialist case management mention to compliance and readiness hearing to Trial management hearing (if required) to final hearing

Step 1 Within 5–10 days of referral

Evatt Determination Event

To be eligible for placement on the Evatt List one or more of the parties must have completed Family DOORS Triage risk screening process as set out in Family Law Practice Direction – Parenting Proceeding. Risk screening refers to the process taken to identify the likelihood of harm or exposure to a type of harm (child abuse and neglect, family violence, mental health issues and drug or alcohol misuse) experienced by a party or child in family law proceedings. This process involves completing an online risk screening questionnaire called the Family DOORS Triage. For more information about the Family DOORS Triage risk screen see, Lighthouse on the Court’s website.

Following receipt of a referral from the Triage Counsellor, the Evatt Judicial Registrar will review the matter to confirm that it meets the requirements to be placed on the Evatt List. If the matter is placed on the Evatt List, the Evatt Judicial Registrar may make an order for a report from a Court Child Expert, and gather any information the Court might need to make a decision, for example, documents from the police, other courts or the child welfare authority. If financial orders are also sought, the Evatt Judicial Registrar will also ensure that the requirements for disclosure and financial statements have been met. These orders will be made in chambers and there is no need for parties to attend Court. All parties must comply with any orders the Evatt Judicial Registrar makes at this event.

Step 2 Within 6–8 weeks after Evatt Determination Event

Evatt First Return Event

This is the likely to be the first time that parties will be required to attend court and this will be before an Evatt Judicial Registrar. The Evatt First Return Event is generally conducted via Microsoft Teams and the Evatt Judicial Registrar will consider any procedural requirements and identify the appropriate case management of the parenting and, where relevant, the financial applications. All parties must comply with any orders the Evatt Judicial Registrar makes at this event.

In some cases an Evatt Second Return Event will be necessary to ensure the matter is progressing as effectively as possible.

Step 3 Within 10–12 weeks after Evatt Determination Event

Interim Hearing

The Judge or SJR will decide any urgent issues that cannot be agreed and will also indicate any other evidence or information that needs to be gathered to progress the matter to finalisation either by agreement or a trial.

This may include a specialised report being ordered by the Court, directions to prepare a matter for final hearing or giving the parties further opportunities to resolve the issues including by way of Family Dispute Resolution, if it is safe to do so.

Step 4 Within 8 months after Evatt Determination Event

Evatt Mention

The Evatt Judicial Registrar will check on the progression of any interim orders, outcomes of any dispute resolution or conciliation conferences and identify next case management steps and opportunities for settlement prior to trial.

Step 5 Within 10–12 months after Evatt Determination Event

Compliance and Readiness Hearing and Trial before the Judge

The matter will be listed for a Compliance and Readiness Hearing (CRH) before a Judge. At this event, the Judge will make directions about the trial and provide trial dates.

4. Expert Reports in the Evatt List

4.1 In parenting matters before the Court, the Judge or SJR might consider that the issues require some investigation and reporting by an expert, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or drug and alcohol expert.

4.2 Parties (and if represented, their lawyers) are usually given the opportunity to discuss, review, and agree on an appropriate expert. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the Judge or SJR will make a decision about what is required and the parties must comply.

4.3 Sometimes the Judge or SJR or Evatt Judicial Registrar will order that a Child Impact Report or a Family Report be prepared by a Court Child Expert of the Court. Refer to the Family Reports brochure for more information.

5. Subpoenas

5.1 A subpoena is a legal document issued by the Court at the request of a party to a matter. A subpoena requires a person to produce documents or give evidence at a hearing or trial. You may consider a subpoena where you want the Court to see documents or hear information from a third party that is relevant to the decision the Court must make.

5.2 If you wish the Court to issue a subpoena, this must be drafted by you or your legal representative using the prescribed form. The Court must approve the subpoena and be satisfied that it is relevant to the matter, must then be formally provided to (served on) the relevant information provider.

5.3 For more information refer to the Subpoena brochure on the Court’s website.

6. Orders

6.1 Court orders are the way the decisions or judgments of judicial officers are described. They can include:

  • an order made after a hearing by a judicial officer, or
  • an order made after parties have reached their own agreement.

6.2 When an order is made, parties are bound by the order and must follow it, even if they did not seek, or agree to, that particular order.

6.3 When you make an Application to the Court or file a Response to the other party’s application, you must include the orders that you wish the Court to make in relation to your child/ren, and any property/financial matters.

6.4 The Court has online resources to help you prepare the orders you wish to seek in your Application/Response or in any agreement you may reach with the other party. Refer to How do I apply for Parenting Orders and/or How do I apply for property and financial orders? for more information.

It is also recommended that you read the Attorney-General’s Department’s Parenting Orders – what you need to know booklet. For more information on property/ financial orders see, Finances and property on the Court’s website.

7. The trial

7.1 Evatt List trials are given priority. However, it is paramount that you follow all of the Court’s directions, particularly those that require things to be done within certain timeframes, so that there is no delay.

7.2 Division 12A of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) applies to parenting matters which means that:

  • the Court process can be less formal
  • the Judge or SJR can decide how the matter should be managed, and
  • the rules of evidence do not apply strictly in the Evatt List.

7.3 In some circumstances, the rules of evidence may be applied more strictly, but the Judge or SJR will decide when this is applicable.

8. Safety at court

8.1 The Court places the highest priority on the safety of families and parties to proceedings. If you have any concerns for your safety when attending Court (including for attendances by telephone or electronic means), it is important you let the Court know as early as possible, and at least 5 days before your court event. A safety plan can be set up, which might include arrangements for you to attend at an in person court event by telephone or separate video.

9. Attending court

9.1 Unless you are told otherwise, you are required to attend the Court events throughout the Evatt List pathway. Some will require personal attendance and some will involve attendance via Microsoft Teams. The Court Orders will tell you which type of attendance is required. The Court has attempted to limit the number of attendances required and if you are legally represented, you may be able to have your legal representative attend without you. You should, however, discuss this with your legal representative.

9.2 The Court understands that it can be very stressful and overwhelming to attend Court, especially when you may not understand the procedures and expectations.

You can contact the Court via Contact Us

For more information about safety at court, see Do you have fears for your safety when attending court.

9.3 The Court has options for attendance at court events by video or telephone. See the electronic attendance request form for more information. You should contact the Court via Contact Us if you have any questions about this.

9.4 If you have difficulty with English and need the assistance of an interpreter to attend a Court event, you should contact the Court via Contact Us or contact the Associate or Legal Case Manager to ask for an interpreter to be booked. This service is free for parties to the proceedings.

9.5 Interpreter services for deaf, hearing impaired and/or speech impaired clients are also available. Arrangements can be made for AUSLAN interpreters or CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation) service providers to accompany clients who are deaf, hearing impaired, and/or speech impaired at Court events. You should contact the Court via Contact Us or contact the Legal Case Manager to make these arrangements, which are provided free of charge.

9.6 There is additional information available at Going to court – tips for your court hearing.

10. Enquiries and contact information

10.1 Contact details for the Court’s registries are available on the Court’s website.

11. Commonwealth Courts Portal

11.1 Filed documents in a matter can be viewed by parties or those authorised by a party on the Commonwealth Courts Portal (CCP). The CCP provides web-based services for Court users to access information about matters before the Court. Parties may register for the CCP to gain access to documents which have been eFiled, as well as orders of the Court, judgments, and listing events (past or future).