Federal Courts are included in the Victorian court system. Federal Courts exercise laws made by the Federal Parliament ranging from issues such as corporations, migration, family law and bankruptcy. The Federal Court’s hierarchy includes the Federal Court of Australia, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia. The decision of all these courts have an avenue of appeal to the High Court of Australia, which is the supreme judicial body with original jurisdiction to hear disputes from any of the lower courts.
The Federal Court of Australia (www.fedcourt.gov.au) opened in 1977. It hears complicated matters of federal law, including bankruptcy, shipping law, competition law, corporations law, constitutional law, native title and some criminal matters. The Federal Court of Australia also has jurisdiction to hear appeals from the Federal Circuit Court as well.
Family Court of Australia (www.familycourt.gov.au) deals with family law matters relating to separation and divorce, children and matrimonial property disputes. It is the Court responsible for the administration of the Family Law Act 1975.
Since the commencement of family law matters being dealt with in the Federal Circuit Court, the primary function of the Family Court has now seen it become a Court dealing with more complex children’s/property issues, international relocation and kidnap recovery applications, as well as hearing appeals from the Federal Circuit Court on family law issues. Much of the day to day family law disputes are now handled by the Federal Circuit Court.
Except in Western Australia, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au) takes care of more than 80 per cent of all family law cases nationwide. In respect of family law matters, the Court usually handles divorce applications, parenting and property disputes. The Court’s usual federal law jurisdiction includes bankruptcy, industrial law, copyright, trade practices and consumer protection, migration, discrimination, privacy, admiralty and administrative law.
In Victoria, the central registries are in Melbourne and Dandenong. The Court sits in several regional locations as well with the circuit regime in which Judges will travel to regional/country Victoria to determine non-metropolitan based family law disputes.