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Similarities and differences

Similarities and differences

By Anna Parker and Suzanne Bettink

Courts Family Court Practice & Procedure 

Families are often involved in both the Children’s Court and the Family Law Courts. practitioners should be aware of the main differences in the laws and processes of the two jurisdictions. There are significant similarities between the work undertaken by the Family Division of the Children’s Court of Victoria and the courts exercising jurisdiction in relation to children under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (FLA) (collectively the Family Law Courts). In particular, the courts in both jurisdictions are concerned with children’s welfare and protecting children from harm, and both deal with families facing serious issues including violence, abuse, neglect, mental illness and substance abuse. As a result, it is not uncommon for families to be involved in both jurisdictions at different times.1 However, there are substantial differences between the two jurisdictions, including different processes and procedures, different roles taken by child protection authorities, different legislative tests, and different models of children’s participation and representation. These differences have considerable potential to cause confusion for the parties and children involved, particularly where the same outcomes are sought in both jurisdictions. The problems are compounded by the fact that parties will often have different lawyers representing them in the two jurisdictions.

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