Online Shared-Parenting Tool – A Review of 2houses

Tony Ko

Tony Ko

Online Legal Information Author at Family Law Express
Tony is currently studying law and business at the University of Western Sydney. He has a keen interest in civil liability and hopes to work in the area upon graduation.
Tony Ko

2houses-co-parenting-app-screenManaging your child’s daily schedule can be hard. It can be even harder after a separation or divorce, especially when you have a shared parenting arrangement.

Communicating with your co-parent might not always be easy and if this is getting in the way of your child’s routine then you might find 2houses to be useful.

2houses is a generally free, online shared-parenting facilitator.

The website and iPhone app provides you and your co-parent with tools to help manage your child’s day-to-day activities.

2houses can help you stay on top of your child’s schedules and events as well as the finances associated with your child.

How does 2houses work?

Signing up

We begin with a simple, free sign up process to create your account. Once you have signed up and logged in, follow the ‘progression’ prompts to link your account to your co-parent’s 2houses account. Both of you will have your own account. From here on, any schedules or events that you update for your child can be seen by your co-parent.

Schedules

Schedules are your custody agreements. When creating one you can select which days your child will be with you and which days they will be with your co-parent. Schedules will show up on your calendar so you can have an overview of where your child will be for the week, month or even year. You will have your regular schedule and you can also make separate schedules for different periods, for example, school holidays.

Events

Events are special occasions that you may want your co-parent to be aware of, or if you just want to keep track of yourself. Your child might be competing at a sports carnival or performing in a concert and you may want to keep your co-parent informed. Events can be set to repeat. For example, if your child has swimming lessons every Saturday you can set this event to repeat instead of making a new event each week.

Change Requests

Change requests can be sent from one parent to the other. This is used when you want to make a change to the existing schedule. For example, if you want your child to stay with you on a day your co-parent is scheduled to take care of them, or if you want your child to stay with your co-parent on a day you are scheduled to take care of them. Once a change request is sent, your co-parent can then accept or decline the request. If they accept the request your schedule and calendar will automatically be updated to reflect this change.

Finances

This section can help you keep track of your finances. In this section you can log expenses, request payments from your co-parent and keep track of child support payments. When you log an expense you can allocate a percentage of contribution from your co-parent. This can be seen by both parents and will help you keep track of how much your co-parent owes you. You can then request a payment from your co-parent. The child support section allows you to set a monthly payment for child support and this will show up on your calendar as a reminder.

Wish List

The wish list section serves as just that, a wish list for your child. You can suggest to your co-parent any presents or things your child may want or need and allocate a percentage of contribution.

Album and Journal

In these sections you can add photos and videos for your co-parent to see and write about anything you may want to share with your co-parent.

Information Bank

2houses also serves as a place to store information. In the information bank, you can add thingssuch as shoe size to Medicare number. This can be useful when shopping or in an emergency and you are unable to contact your co-parent.

What are its benefits?

2houses-infobankThe best thing about 2houses is the calendar. Having a visual tool can really help with planning. For example, if your child stays with you every second weekend, you could look ahead on the calendar to see if you have custody for that long weekend.

This calendar and its reporting features can be quite handy if disputing the amount of time the children have spent with one parent or the other during the course of a year, if for instance trying to determine the Family Tax Benefit split between the two co-parents.

Another great thing about 2houses is the notification service. You can opt to receive notifications by email and/or SMS whenever a schedule, event or change request has been made or edited by your co-parent. This ensures you are aware of any changes without needing to constantly log in.

2houses also provides you with support. Any questions you may have about the website or iPhone app can be sent to 2houses via the messaging service (I received a reply within 12 hours, on a Sunday).

Overall, the website and iPhone app are really simple to use. Most actions are completed by selecting icons and drop-down lists or clicking on calendar dates. There are also helpful articles, videos and help boxes within the website and iPhone app that could solve any issues you may have.

What are its drawbacks?

Something that may cause unnecessary issues with your co-parent is the finances section. If you forget to log some expenses and then request a payment for them your co-parent might become suspicious. Logging all of your expenses onto 2houses might also be a time consuming task. But you can always choose not to use the finances section.

Does it help in co-parenting of children?

2houses can be very useful in co-parenting situations as it provides you with the tools to help with planning. But it still requires a certain level of commitment and communication from both sides to make it work. Simply adding schedules and events does not guarantee cooperation. However, it does serve as a convenient place for co-parents to keep in touch. If the parents are not on speaking terms then 2houses can be the ideal tool to ease the process.

Tax Implications of a Property Settlement

Dinesh Munasinha

Dinesh Munasinha

Online Legal Information Editor at Family Law Express
Dinesh is a lawyer with overseas experience currently completing the bridging course to be recognized as a lawyer in Australia. He has experience in successfully assisting individual as well as corporate clients in many areas of law. His strength is the ability to simplify complex legal issues, communicate effectively and find practical legal solutions for his clients.
Dinesh Munasinha

Tax Implications of a Property SettlementIn the first part of this article series entitled “How the Courts Divide Property in Divorce Proceedings“, we discussed how the Courts divide property and what steps each party needed to bear in mind in order to ensure that the final settlement was well and truly fair by each party.

Divorce itself can of course be an emotionally exacting process for the parties concerned. However after the event itself, the tax implications of a divorce could create even more emotional trauma. Hence, in part 2 of this series of articles I will focus on the tax implications of a divorce settlement.

Creating Family Trust

Many people who may seek financial and tax planning services, may be advised to use a Family Trust as a potentially tax-effective vehicle for holding income gaining property such as land and shares.

As the property is not held in  the name of individuals or the family but instead held in the name of the Trust, one may wonder what happens to Family Trusts in the event of a divorce. As stated in Part 1 of my Article, assets held in trust for the family would essentially be considered by the Family Court  as forming part of the family assets and then it will be divided in the ratio pre agreed or as determined by Courts.

Hence, the ground rule is, Family Trusts do not protect one spouses’ assets at divorce, but it attaches to both and gets divided.

However, it is worth mentioning an interesting variance; if one of the spouses’ only gains income from a Trust and where he/she is only a beneficiary, the Trust property itself may not be divided as it may not be a Family Trust.

To clarify this with an example, let us assume a man creates a Trust by transferring his assets and the Trust provides income to his two daughters. Let’s assume that one of the daughters marries and continues to receive Trust income from her fathers’ Trust. In the event the daughter’s marriage breaks down the Trust property in the father’s Trust will not be divided as family assets between the daughter and her husband. The Trust property will remain as it is and not tag along in the division. However, the fact that she continuously received income from the Trust could act as ‘contribution’ for the purpose of determining the contribution made by the parties as discussed in Part 1of this article.            

Tax implications of giving assets to children

One may even need to consider the aftermath of the divorce taking in to consideration the tax on children. If children receive income directly they are likely to be taxed at the high rate of 66%. To avoid this, a trust structure could be used to great effect. By creating a Trust they could vest the assets to the children with a trustee, and the same could then be distributed once they reach a certain age defined in the Trust Deed. This protects the children from using assets wastefully makes them available when they need them most. However, any income earned from the Trust property can be made available to children at the Adult Tax rates which goes to a maximum of 46.5%, as opposed to 66%. These type of Trust which only endow profits but does not give the right to assets are famously known as the Capital Vested Trusts.

How do the divorce settlement itself get taxed?

Going through an emotional trauma, thinking of legal costs and the last thing anyone needs is the Australian Taxation Office to come and tap on your door.

Under the general laws of taxation in the event an asset is sold/transferred, the gain made on it is taxed. Since, a division of property in divorce would naturally result in substantial assets changing hands between partners, it is essential to examine the taxation aspects relating to such instances.

There are two types of taxes that apply when disposing property;

  1. Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
  2. Stamp duty

In the event the disposal occurs to satisfy a distribution of property on divorce,  it is possible to obtain a roll over relief from CGT, if there is an order of Court confirming the division of property. This means, that the transferor will not be liable to pay/claim the CGT at the point of dividing the property, but it will only be payable/claimable on a subsequent date it is disposed by the transferee. When the spouse who received it subsequently sells it the Capital Gain / Loss will be calculated considering the value at which the property was bought by the transferor. 1

There are generally two types of roll-overs available. One applies to the transfer of a CGT asset that is owned by an individual to their spouse. Another applies to the transfer of a CGT asset from a company or trustee of a trust to a spouse.

However, note that no roll-over is available if the asset is transferred from an individual to an entity. Therefore, if the recipient spouse wishes to further transfer the asset from their own name to say, a discretionary trust, CGT and stamp duty may be triggered, which could effectively undo some or all of the benefits of the roll-over.

If the assets are transferred from a family owned company in order to settle the division of property, one needs to bear in mind the consequence of deemed dividend tax. 2

When dividing the property it is also vital to plan the taxation before deciding on what each party claims. For example the matrimonial home identified as the ‘main residence’ of the parties that would anyway have an exemption from CGT.

Similarly, if the asset was purchased prior to 20th September 1985, the asset would anyway be exempted from CGT. Hence, in such instances the roll-over act is not activated. Further, if a party wants to claim Capital Losses, that too may determine what property is beneficial.

  1. See Marriage or relationship breakdown and transferring of assets – http://www.ato.gov.au/General/Capital-gains-tax/In-detail/Changes-in-family-circumstances/Marriage-or-relationship-breakdown-and-transferring-of-assets/.
  2. See Draft Taxation Ruling TR 2013/D6 which would replace, ATO ID 2004/462.

Benefits of Child Maintenance Trusts

Katherine Patricia Finch

Katherine Patricia Finch

Online Legal Information Author at Family Law Express
University of Sydney
Katherine Patricia Finch

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Child-Maintenance-Trusts-in-Child-SupportChild Maintenance Trusts are established for the benefit of children after the breakdown of a family. There can be several advantages and disadvantages of child maintenance trusts depending on each individual circumstance.

Child Maintenance Trust will typically be most useful to people with a high net worth and may not be practical for all families.

In order to establish a CMT there must be a family breakdown, the assets of the trust must be beneficially owned by the child(ren), the trust must generate investment income for the maintenance, education or advancement of the child and there must be an arms length return on the investment and the transfer must be pursuant to an order, determination or assessment of a court, person or body. 1

Tax Benefits of a Child Maintenance Trust

There can be substantial tax benefits that result from child maintenance trusts in certain circumstances, if correctly formulated.

Tax assessment Act 1936 s 102AG (2) (c) (viii):

‘An amount included in the assessable income of a trust estate is excepted trust income in relation to a beneficiary of the trust estate to the extent to which the amount is derived by the trustee of the trust estate from the investment of any property transferred to the trustee for the benefit of the beneficiary as a result of a family break down.’

Any unearned income received by the minor beneficiaries are taxed at a rate of 66%, 2 although income from a CMT is ‘excepted income’ and will only be subject to marginal tax rates.

In order to ensure that income generated by the CMT is ‘excepted’ all elements necessary to establish the trust must be satisfied. Usually, the elimination of tax obligations for the children will result from the combination of the tax-free threshold and the low-income taxpayer offset. 3

Child Maintenance Trusts also provide the certainty that if a relationship dissolves, the maintenance provider may be ordered to pay maintenance for the child, helping to secure their financial future. Furthermore, the assets that are held within the trust will be protected for the benefit of the minor beneficiaries.

Disadvantages of a Child Maintenance Trust

While these elements may provide advantages to individuals in particular cases, there are also disadvantages that must be acknowledged before deciding whether a CMT might be appropriate for you and your family’s situation.

In the first instance, the property is effectively ‘lost’ from the control and ownership of the initiating parent, becoming the property of the trust.

Secondly, maintaining the trust will cost money to maintain and when the property is transferred into the CMT, there is no capital gains tax rollover relief upon the transfer of assets. Dependent on several components, the transfer of assets may also incur a stamp duty.

  1. Tax Assessment Act 1936 s 102AG.
  2. http://www.jonesmitchell.com.au/blog/child-maintenance-trusts/.
  3. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/wealth/out-of-love-and-into-the-poorhouse-divorce-and-separation/story-e6frgac6-1225917556831 .

Explaining Adult Child Maintenance (for Child Support)

Joe Azzi

Joe Azzi

Online Legal Information Author at Family Law Express
I am a 2nd year student at the University of Sydney studying a combined law degree with mathematics. I am currently balancing my study with tutoring high school children, interning as a solicitor and playing competitive basketball.

Most of all, I am thankful that the flexible discipline of law enables me to be on the frontiers of social, political, economic and international issues where one can play a role in paving the way for a bright future.
Joe Azzi

child-maintenance-at-18-years-oldLegislation such as the Family Law Act (1975) and the Child Support (Assessment) Act (1989) outline the basic principle that children of divorced parents are entitled to “maintenance” particularly through child support.

In both acts, it is made clear that a child eligible for such support must be under the age of 18 years (i.e. a child in the legal sense).

First it is important to also consider that when referring to “adult children”, we are looking particularly at the 18-24 age bracket, which Australian law acknowledges to still be somewhat dependant on parental support in certain cases.

These are the transition years in modern society where a teenagers attempts to establish themselves in society as an adult and thus it is understandable that in most cases one would encounter hardships along the way. Therefore it does make sense that legally there should be entitlement to some support from parents for those ‘Adult children’ who can demonstrate potential struggle; whether it is financial or personal related.

Does Child Support end at 18?

There is an understandable misconception in Australian law that child maintenance ends when the child legally becomes an adult, that is, at 18 years of age – however this is not entirely true for all scenarios. The law acknowledges that ‘adult children’ can be in a phase where they are unemployed and instead in the pursuit of tertiary education, whether it be through TAFE or university. In such cases it would be difficult for that young adult to be labelled as “financially independent” for his or her parents as there is reliance on some sort of external support. The Australian government makes this clear through such schemes as Youth Allowance (established on 1st July 1998) which is a support payment made to those under 25 years of age. The Youth allowance scheme is significant when addressing the issue adult child maintenance particularly because it addresses the issue of the parental means test which is basically an assessment of the parent’s financial state in order to determine whether government assistance is necessary for the child.

The Youth Allowance scheme:

  1. Moved the application of the parental means test for those unemployed up to 21 years of age
  2. Applied the parental means test for fulltime students up to the age of 25

These clearly indicate that despite the person being over the age of 18, the government does not necessarily view them as “independent” as it assesses their parent’s financial situation to determine the payments they are entitled to.

An assumption is therefore raised by the application of the parental means test which is that if parents are financially able, they would support their ‘adult child’. As expected, this assumption of parental obligation does not always hold, particularly when there are cases of family disputes and separation.

The Family Law Act 1975

Owing to the fact that there is a diversity of scenarios, ‘adult child’ maintenance becomes a matter for the court to decide.1 This is concept is accommodated in law through the Family law act (1975) at S66L where the primary reasons for ‘adult child’ maintenance are:

  1. The undertaking of higher education (As addressed at 1(a)).
  2. Mental/physical disability (as addressed at 1(b)).

Under these two categories a court may enforce a child maintenance order (S64B, ss 5) where financial support must be given to that person despite being older than 18 years.

Other than these reasons, the court is instructed not to enforce any parental maintenance for people over the age of 18.

  1. Family Law Act (1975), S66L.

The History of the Family Law Act & its Amendments

Clare Decena

Clare Decena

Online Legal Information Author at Family Law Express
Clare Decena is currently in her penultimate year of a combined Law and Media degree at Macquarie University, with a specialisation in discrimination law. Clare also has a passion for journalism and has been published in the Young Writer’s Showcase. Clare hopes to use her law degree to advocate the protection of children’s rights within family law.
Clare Decena

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family-law-act-timeline-australia

Family law is continually undergoing change. As the diversity of families increase, so does the law that protects it. In 1975, the Australian government created the Family Law Act1975 (Cth) (also shortened to ‘FLA’) in order to reflect the changing attitude of society. In the same year, the Family Court of Australia was introduced as a superior Australian federal court to hear family law matters, under Chapter 3 of the Australian Constitution.

The Family Law Act is comprised of 15 parts, dealing with areas such as divorce, parenting arrangements between separated parents (whether married or not), the protection and financial maintenance for children and property division for the parties involved. The primary aim for Family Law is to effectively address the needs of families experiencing crisis and hardship, whilst protecting the rights of children. It is important to remember that the Family Law Act has been subject to numerous changes and controversial amendments since its introduction in 1975. These changes are a reflection of two factors: political climate and the public frustration with the existing law

Amendments to the Family Law Act

In 1975, the Family Law Act changed divorce law in Australia when it established the concept of ‘no fault divorce’, which meant that the Court did not require proof that one partner had done something wrong, or why the marriage ended. The only ground for divorce is that there has been an irreconcilable break down of marriage: that is, that the relationship has permanently broken down. Another significant change for the act was the reduction of time for a divorce to take effect from three months to one month. As a result, in 1976 there were a large number of divorces recorded. The rate of divorce continued to increase steadily since the 1980s, whilst the number of de facto couples continues to increase as the number of marriages decrease, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The Family Court of Australia

The creation of the Family Court of Australia under the Family Law Act increased the response to problems surrounding marriage and its dissolution, children matters and property disputes. The Family Court is the forum in which majority of Australians litigate. However, there are many criticisms towards the Court, however, major developments have been made to improve the way the law addresses the needs of families in crisis, such as offering alternate dispute resolutions. As a result, the Court aims to provide cost-effective resolutions for families to reach agreements that are in the best interests of all parties involved, especially for children as per Section 4 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).

Child Custody and Guardianship

In 1983, the Family Law (Amendment) Act 1983 (Cth) tried to clarify the concepts of ‘custody’ and ‘guardianship’ of children in an attempt to reduce the formality and adversarial nature of family law. As a result, in 1987, the court procedures were simplified removing the requirement for judges or barristers to wear the traditional wigs or gowns. The effect of this was to lessen the need to “win” a family law case and to create a non-threatening environment. Family law deals with sensitive issues that occur at the peak of crisis within Australian families, and it is the responsibility of the legal system to provide for an effective means of dispute resolution.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Australia continued to shift its focus on protecting society’s most vulnerable members: children. In 1990, Australia became signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, (known as UNCROC) which lead to the Family Law Reform Act 1995 (Cth). The effect of the legislation was to move away from the parent’s “rights” and towards the parent’s “responsibility” and “duty of care” for children. Furthermore, changes were made to increase children’s rights and protection from violence within families and the impact of a child’s continue contact with a violent ex-spouse: that is, the Family Law Act was amended to specifically include the terms “the best interests of the child”.

Move towards Mediation and Dispute Resolution

In 1996, there was a clear shift away from litigation towards mediation and primary dispute resolution (PDR). The Family Court presented new, simplified procedures that enable divorcing couples to bypass lengthy and expensive court trials. The main advantages of PDR are that the best decision is often reached as both parties agreed to it, as well as a reduced psychological and emotional effect. The introduction of “shared parental responsibility” recognised the desire for a continued joint duty and co-operation in parenting after separation or divorce.

The law aims to treat all people equally, irrespective of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religious convictions and social status. Before the 2006 amendments to the Family Law Act, it was noted that the role and status of parents was unfairly and inaccurately represented by terms such as ‘the residence parent’ and ‘the contact parent.’ The terms ‘residence’ and contact’ have now been removed from the Act and although orders can still refer to a person with whom a child can reside, there are no labels for parents. The emphasis now is on the definition of patterns and types of time that a child will spend with each parent.

Less Adversarial Trials

The area where justice is not adequately provided for individuals also impacts the effect of Family Law on society. In the early 2000’s there was a call to review the access to services by reducing delays and increasing voluntary counselling for families. In 2004, a less adversarial model was trial in the Family Courts of Sydney and Parramatta, with the Melbourne registry following in late 2005. It is from the success of these trials that the program is now run in all family law registries.

Family Relationship Centres

In 2006, Family Relationship Centres were opened and compulsory mediation introduced: couples are now required to attend mediation before apply to the court for an order regarding children. Previously, the Family Law Act was limited to matters of children born or adopted into a marriage. It was not until 2006 that the Commonwealth was able to handle matters relating to ex-nuptial children under Chapter VII of the Family Law Act. There have been many reforms to address the gap between married and de facto couples under Section 51(xxxviii) of the Australian Constitution.

Furthermore, in 2006 there was a greater examination of issues involving family violence, child abuse or neglect. This progression towards the protection of dependent children is best illustrated by the presumption that both parents have a responsibility their children – although this was not necessarily equal parenting time under the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006 (Cth).

Shared Parenting meaningfully introduced into Legislation

However, in practice, the judiciary were compelled to provide for equal parenting arrangements, or otherwise shared parenting arrangements, if the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility was met. If not, they were required to explain in their decision why a more balanced approach to parenting was not awarded. The expectation being that equal parenting arrangements, or at the very least shared parenting arrangements, would dramatically increase as a result.

As a result, the reform broke the tension between living arrangements and moved towards an equal sharing of duties concerning the welfare and development of children under Section 60B(2)(c) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).

De Facto Marriages Under One Law

In the past, de facto relationships were hardly recognised as marriage was the popular institution. As a result, couples within these relationships, particularly those with children, often struggled with their rights, especially concerning financial and property settlements in the event of a break up. In response to this increase, The Family Law Amendment (De Facto Matters and Other Measures) Act 2008 (Cth) was introduced to bridge the gap between married couple’s rights and de facto couple’s rights by easing the need to go to trial for property division. In the following year, e-filing for divorce on the internet was made available. This indicates that filing for divorce online increases accessibility due to the increase in processing speed.

Family Violence Measures Significantly Strengthened

In 2011, the government sought to improve the response to family abuse by broadening the definition of “violence” to state that it is not limited physical violence, under theFamily Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2011 (Cth). 

For example, the definition now includes “serious psychological harm” and “serious neglect under Section 4B of the Family Law Act. By 2012, it is clear that the primary aim of the law is to put the safety of children front and centre of family law matters, without compromising a child’s right to a meaningful relationship with both where parents where this is safe. The increase of accessibility to the justice system is best illustrated by the availability of forms online, including applications for divorce, Notice for Child Abuse, Family Violence and the provision of information from a family counsellor or dispute resolution practitioner. 1

It is clear that the Family Law Act has evolved since its creation in 1975. This can be explained by the constant change and wide variety of family structures. No family is the same and no family is perfect. There will always be a difficulty to provide a single concept of law and apply it universally. However, there has been a gradual movement towards equality for all family units, regardless of its composition. The ultimate concern for law is the protection of children as the most vulnerable members of society – it does not matter what type of family the child comes from. The advancements in technology and social norms have historically given rise to law reform. The ability for Family Law reformers is to adapt to becoming a more crucial aspect of the legal system, and family issues are at the forefront of this challenge.

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Online Divorce in Australia: A Step by Step Guide to eFiling

Julie cheung

Julie cheung

Online Legal Information Author at Family Law Express
I am undertaking my third year of a Bachelor of Combined Arts/ Law at the University of New South Wales with a major in philosophy and minor in sociology.  I am interested in pursuing a legal career particularly in Family Law or Criminal Law, especially aiming to improve and ensure equal access to justice by addressing the issues in these areas of law and difficulties faced by the people.
Julie cheung

efiling and online divorceSince 2009, separating couples have been able to file applications for divorce electronically (eFiling) via the Commonwealth Courts Portal at www.comcourts.gov.au.

The Commonwealth Courts Portal (the Portal) is an initiative by the Family Court of Australia to increase efficiency in dealing with cases and provide a more convenient way to file documents before the court. The service enables separating couples to file an Application for Divorce from the comfort of their home.

This guide provides information on the process to eFiling pursuant to Rules 2.07A and 2.07B Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001.

What do you need?

Before you commence eFiling your Application for Divorce, you will need access to the internet, an email, a printer and a scanner. This is because access to the Portal requires you to register with an email and when uploading documents, you are required to scan it. For example, you will need to scan a copy of your marriage certificate. You may also need to upload Proof of Australian citizenship, Affidavits, and evidence of exemption, if required. More information on divorce can be found on the Family Law Courts website: www.familylawcourts.gov.au. The process of eFiling will be described below as a step by step guide.

Step 1: Registering with the Portal

You must register to the Commonwealth Courts portal at www.comcourts.gov.au. Access to the Portal may only be given to you, if you are a person who acts as a professional advisor in relation to the family law proceedings.1 So you may need to find legal assistance. Once registered, you can log onto the Portal and complete the divorce application form online. The website will prompt you to enter relevant details and to upload relevant documents.

If you wish to file a joint application, only one of the applicants will need to complete the Application for Divorce eForm. However, make sure details of both parties are provided.

Step 2: Completing the Application for Divorce eForm

There are several parts to the application. Once you complete each part, you will be prompted to either save or validate each part. Saving a part means you will save where you are up to in the form. Whereas, validating a part checks for missing details. After completing the parts, you will be prompted to questions that will determine what documents you will need to upload or lodge at the register. Here, you will need to upload a scanned copy of your marriage certificate and other documents if required. If your marriage certificate is not in English, you will need to provide a translated copy as well as a copy of an Affidavit from the translator.

It should be strictly noted that the documents scanned must be uploaded as a PDF (ADOBE Portable Document Format). The size of the file size cannot exceed 10mb and must be in an easily readable form. These formats are pursuant to Rules 2.07A.2For your convenience, the Portal provides a free PDF convertor tool to allow you to follow these rules. The Court has recognised that these rules are clear as to how filing by electronic communication must be, and the electronic format must be in accordance to the format approved for the registry.3 In this case, documents were sent by email were not properly filed.

Step 3: Payments and Costs

After completing your details, you will be prompted for payment or to upload evidence for an exemption of Court fees. You can apply for an Application for Reduction of Court fees if you are having financial hardship. You may also be entitled for a reduction of court fees if you hold relevant entitlements cards, been granted Legal Aid, is receiving a government allowance or is under 18.4 To submit an application for exemption, you must file the application form in person at the registry or file by post. You cannot file an Application for a Reduction of Court fees electronically or through the Portal. Nevertheless, if this is your line of action, you must upload a scanned copy of both sides of your entitlement card. Make sure it is signed and current.

If you do not seek for a reduction, you can pay immediately with a Credit Card. Costs for an application for divorce is $800 and a reduced fee of $265.5 Note the reduction is only in relation to Court fees.

Step 4: Select Hearing Date on Completion

After the payment is approved, a new file will be created and a file number created. You will be prompted to select a preferred Court date from a list of available hearing dates.  Once the application is complete and successfully filed via the Portal, a sealed Confirmation Notice will be available to download and be printed from the Portal. A sealed copy of the application form will also be available, along with the file number.

Step 5: Uploading Affidavits

Once the application is completed, the Portal will automatically generate an Affidavit for eFiling Application (Divorce). This will need to be sworn or affirmed before a lawyer, Justice of the Peace or any authorised personnel, and then uploaded as a scanned copy. A sealed copy will also be generated and available to download. If it is a joint application, both parties need to submit an Affidavit each.

What happens next?

The process of eFiling is finished. However, eFiling only provides a service to file applications and documents to the Court. You will still need to serve these documents on your spouse. You cannot do this with the Port also it must be done by post or by hand via another adult. If you have made a joint application, you do not need to serve your spouse with any documents. More information can be found in the Divorce Service Kit, found on the Family Court Website: www.familylawcourts.gov.au

Late eFiling

Documents may be electronically uploaded at any time. Documents that are eFiled are usually immediately accepted once they are uploaded. A sealed copy of documents is then immediately available to download. This means administration is quicker and more efficient for practitioners as documents can be filed on the day of the hearing. However, it also means Judicial Officers may be strict on granting leave to file documents that could have been filed. If documents are filed late, practitioners must comply with the rules about late eFiling.6

What happens to your Personal Details?

The Portal is a secure system that stores all your personal details in a confidential database which is separate from the court’s main case management system. The data is only stored for 60 days. Therefore, applications not yet submitted will be permanently deleted after 60 days of inactivity.7

Success of eFiling

eFiling is now a popular method for filing documents before the court. It is a lot quicker than lodging an application in person at the Registry or by post because it mitigates travel costs and time considerations related to on-site divorce applications. Since its commencement in 2009, 26,365 applications have been eFiled and now averaging about156 per week.8 The benefits of eFiling are continually promoted in Queensland and Melbourne with further growth in the use of such services.9

It is particularly beneficial to legal practitioners especially those dealing with multiple federal law matters in the court at the one time. The service is efficient in filing documents and is not limited to filing divorce applications. It is further beneficial in enhancing access to justice in rural and regional areas of Australia.10 The initiative is able to mitigate expenses and time considerations associated with traveling to the cities to file applications and documents in person.

  1. Federal Circuit Court of Australia, Practice Direction No 2 of 2008 – Filing of Supplementary Documents and Divorce Application by Electronic Communication, 12 February 2011. 
  2. Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 (Cth). 
  3. Director of the Fair Work Building Inspectorate v Zion Tiling Pty Ltd and Anor (No2)  2013 FCCA 1288.
  4. Guidelines can be found under Family Law (Fees) Regulations 2012. 
  5. Family Law (Fees) Regulation 2012, sch 1, s 2.02.
  6. Federal Circuit Court of Australia, above n 1.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Chief Justice Judge John Pascoe, Federal circuit Court of Australia 2012-13 Annual Report (Commonwealth of Australia, 2013), 44. 
  9. Ibid, 186.
  10. Ibid, 61.