Family Law

The Magistrates' Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine matters related to state laws and some federal matters. The Family Law Act 1975 gives the Magistrates' Courts certain powers to deal with family law matters.

The Magistrates' Court of Victoria has the power to hear a similar range of matters related to children, property and intervention orders as the Federal Circuit Court however its powers are limited by the legislation and developed court procedures.

If matters heard before the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria are defended, they must be transferred to the Family Court of Australia.

The Magistrates' Court does not deal with divorce proceedings.

Where can I apply for divorce

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia has the jurisdiction or power to deal with dissolution of marriage (i.e. divorce) under Part VI of the Family Law Act 1975. You can apply for divorce on the Federal Circuit Court website.

Where do I get orders parenting orders?

For information on applying for parenting orders see the Federal Circuit Court’s How do I series.

Child Support and Maintenance

Child support and maintenance are regular payments made by one parent to the other to pay for the costs of looking after the child. There are two types of child support and maintenance orders which can be obtained.

Child Maintenance - Stage 1

The Court can only make a child maintenance order if you separated before 1 October 1989 and no child of the relationship was born after that date.

Child Support - Stage 2

If you separated after 1 October 1989, or have a child born after that date, the agreement can be registered at the Child Support Agency. If there is no agreement on how much child support should be paid, you can apply to the Child Support Agency to make an assessment. This procedure involves an administrative assessment which is broadly based on a percentage of the liable parent’s taxable income.

A departure order may be sought should either party be dissatisfied with an assessment by the Child Support Agency. This application can be made at either the Magistrates' Court of Victoria or the Family Court. 

Property Issues

Only parties who are or were married can apply for a property settlement under theFamily Law Act 1975. Different laws apply to de facto or same sex partners.

The Magistrates’ Court can only deal with property settlements by consent. The Magistrates' Court cannot deal with matrimonial property where the value of the property exceeds $100,000 unless both parties agree to the court hearing the case.

Property disputes between domestic partners (both de facto and same sex partners) can be heard in the Supreme, County or Magistrates' Courts depending on the value of the property in question.

Recovery Orders

A recovery order is required when the child is taken without your consent. You can apply for a recovery order requiring the location of the child to be disclosed and for the child to be returned to you.

Once a recovery order is made in the Magistrates' Court the final hearing may be determined by the Family Court of Australia. 

Change of Name

An application to resolve a child welfare issue pursuant to the Family Law Act 1975, such as change of name, can be made to the Family Court of Australia, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia or the Magistrates' Court of Victoria. Both parties must consent to the Magistrates' Court hearing the matter. Lack of consent requires immediate transfer to the Family Court. 

Marriage of Minors

The Magistrates' Court may deal with applications for Marriage of Minors. Any person wishing to marry and who is under the age of 18, is considered a minor and must make an application to the Court requesting consideration of special circumstances to be married underage. The Magistrate will hold an inquiry into the relevant facts and circumstances and based on the results of this inquiry, will conclude whether to approve or refuse the application.

Applications for the marriage of minors will only be considered in situations of exceptional or unique circumstances that can justify the Magistrate approving the application. It should be noted that pregnancy in itself, is not a justifiable, exceptional or unusual circumstance.


Contact the Magistrates' Court where your matter is listed or your nearest court. 
Contact details for all Victorian Magistrates' Courts are available under Contact Us