What is an initiating application?

initiating application

By Ezra Sarajinsky

· Read time: 4 minutes

The Initiating Application is the first step to begin a matter in the Family Court. 

Family law proceedings are filed with the Federal Circuit and Family Court (FCFOA), for either interim or final orders. An initiating application is used for all family law matters, including divorce, parenting arrangements, property settlements, and spousal maintenance.

What kinds of family law matters commence with an Initiating Application?

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) handles any family law matter that is outlined in the Family Law Act. Initiating applications in family law cases typically revolve around parenting and childcare or financial matters and property division.

Some common examples of family law issues brought before the court include:

  • Child custody and parenting arrangements
  • Child relocation
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Divorce application
  • Property settlements (dividing property and finances following separation)
  • Airport watch orders
  • Superannuation splits
  • International property and parenting issues
  • Having binding financial agreements set aside
  • Enforcing court orders
  • Injunctions on property related issues

What are the basic contents of an Initiating Application?

An Initiating Application will include information about both parties, specifics about the relationship, and the requested Orders. 

Essentially, it outlines what the applicant is seeking regarding parenting arrangements and time with children, or their proposals for the division of property and assets within the relationship.

What Documents needs to be filed with the Initiating Application? 

The documents that need to be filed are determined by  whether the matter is chiefly concerned with either Parenting or Property. 

Application FormThe applicant provide detailed information about their relationship and the specific orders they seek. For parenting matters, parties outline their desired arrangements for the child’s welfare, care, and custody.The applicant details the orders they seek concerning the division of assets post-relationship breakdown. This includes specifying requests for spousal maintenance payments if applicable.
AffidavitParties use the affidavit to present evidence supporting their case and reasoning for why the court should grant the orders they seek. Whether for final or interim orders, all relevant evidence must be included in this document.Affidavits play a crucial role in presenting essential information to the court. Parties must ensure that all pertinent evidence is accurately documented within the affidavit for consideration.
Financial StatementNot requiredThe financial statement outlines details around income, financial resources, assets, liabilities, and property. Full disclosure is required.
Section 60I CertificateFollowing attendance at Family Dispute Resolution, a Section 60I certificate must be attached to the family law initiating application.Not required
Notice of RiskThe Notice of Risk form identifies to the Court instances of family or domestic violence and enables appropriate action, including notifying child authorities if necessary.Not required

The s60i Certificate

Family Law matters are required by the Court to first engage in Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) and mediation when disputes arise. 

A Section 60I certificate, issued by an accredited Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) practitioner, documents the parties’ efforts to resolve their disputes prior to litigation in court.

Exemptions exist in certain circumstances, wherein parties may not be required to obtain a Section 60i certificate before approaching the family courts.

After filing the Initiating Application, do I need to “serve” them?

Any application or document submitted to the Court must be formally served on all parties involved in the proceedings, unless the court order specifies otherwise. 

After filing the documents, it is your responsibility to ensure they are served on the relevant parties. If you have submitted documents electronically (eFiled), you must print the sealed documents for physical service. Alternatively, if you have filed documents with a registry, you will receive sealed copies for service.

Evidence that they were served then has to be provided to the Court.

Documents should be served promptly after filing, ideally as soon as practicable.

When serving an application to initiate proceedings, personal service is required. This means a person who is not a party to the proceedings and is over 18 years old must personally deliver a copy of the documents to the recipient. 

This individual could be the party’s lawyer, a professional process server, or another suitable person not involved in the case.

Need legal assistance?

If you have been served with an initiating application, or would like to commence your own, then book in a time to speak with a Movement Legal lawyer. We are adept with all processes of the court system, and specialise in separation and family law. We would love to be able to help you get towards resolution.

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