Which Family Law Court in Melbourne?

family law court | Melbourne Family Lawyers

Understanding the role of courts in child custody matters is crucial for parents navigating the complexities of family law. In Melbourne, several courts play pivotal roles in addressing child custody disputes. Here’s an overview of these courts and how they operate in the context of child custody.

1. Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA)

305 William Street, Melbourne

The FCFCOA is the primary court for handling child custody cases in Australia. It operates under the Family Law Act and Child Support Acts, dealing with issues such as divorce, property division, maintenance, child support, and, importantly, children and parenting cases.

Key Functions in Child Custody:

  • Making Custody Orders: Determines legal and physical custody, considering the child’s best interests.
  • Parenting Arrangements: Establishes arrangements for time spent with each parent, communication, and overall care.
  • Resolving Disputes: Facilitates mediation and other resolution methods; intervenes when parents cannot agree.
  • Enforcing Orders: Enforces custody orders, penalising non-compliance.
  • Child’s Best Interests: Prioritises the child’s age, relationship with parents, and emotional and physical well-being, among other factors.


  • Mediation First: Attempts to resolve custody disputes through mediation.
  • Court Proceedings: If mediation fails, the matter proceeds to court for a decision.
  • Evidence and Opinions: Parents present evidence; the child’s opinion may be considered.
  • Final Decision: The court issues a binding custody arrangement.

When to Approach the Court:

  • Disagreements Over Custody: When parents can’t agree on arrangements.
  • Safety Concerns: If there are fears about the child’s well-being.
  • Relocation Disputes: When a parent wishes to move with the child.
  • Parental Alienation: Addressing attempts to estrange a child from a parent.
  • Domestic Violence: Ensuring the child’s safety in cases of domestic violence.

Contacting the FCFCOA:

For custody matters, locate your nearest FCFCOA branch and contact them for information on the application process. Due to the complexity of custody cases, legal advice is recommended.

2 Magistrates Court of Victoria

233 William Street, Melbourne

This is a State Court that has the exclusive jurisdiction to grant Intervention Orders under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 in situations where people are subjected to family violence. “Family violence” includes threats, physical and sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, economic abuse, damage to property, injury to animals, and other threatening, coercive, or in any way controlling and dominating behaviour that makes a family member fear for their safety or well-being or the safety or well-being of another person.

While the Magistrates Court of Victoria primarily deals with intervention orders under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008, it plays a supportive role in the broader context of family law. It can impact custody arrangements in cases involving family violence.

3. Family Court of Australia

305 William Street, Melbourne

Operating alongside the FCFCOA, the Family Court of Australia hears appeals from the FCFCOA and has exclusive jurisdiction over marriage nullity or validity cases. It also deals with family law matters, including child custody.

When Is There a Need to Go to Court for Custody?

There are several reasons why parents may need to go to court for custody of their child. Here are some common scenarios:

• Disagreements over custody: When parents cannot agree on custody arrangements, they may need to go to court to have a judge decide.

• Safety concerns: If one parent is concerned about the safety or well-being of the child while the child is in the care of the other parent, they may seek court intervention to ensure the child’s protection.

• Relocation: If one parent wishes to move to a different state or country with the child, the other parent may object, resulting in a custody dispute that must be resolved in court.

• Parental alienation: When one parent attempts to alienate a child from the other parent, the afflicted parent may seek court intervention to preserve their relationship with the child.

• Domestic violence: If there is a history of domestic violence between the parents or if one parent has concerns about the safety of the child in the care of the other parent due to domestic violence, they may need to seek custody orders that safeguard the child from harm.

Choosing the Right Court

The choice of court in Melbourne is crucial and depends on your specific circumstances. Melbourne Family Lawyers can guide you to the most suitable court for your case.

Legal Guidance is Advised

Navigating child custody in Melbourne requires understanding various courts’ roles and procedures. The FCFCOA is central in determining custody arrangements, always prioritising the child’s best interests.

Legal guidance is advised for parents to ensure the welfare of their children and compliance with legal requirements in custody disputes.

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