Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW) provides that a person believing on reasonable grounds that a child is at risk of harm, may notify the Director-General of the Department of Community Services. Additionally, some jurisdictions provides that any person acting honestly and without recklessness in their reporting, will not be been deemed to have breached their professional ethics and is protected from civil liability, such as s 874 of the Children and Young People Act 2008 (ACT).

Although there are no specific provisions in South Australia and Western Australia for voluntary reporting, both jurisdictions still provide for those who have acted in good faith when reporting maltreatment of a child to the relevant authority, and will generally be protected from civil or criminal liability.

Section 90SB of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (the Act) sets out when a court can make an order or declaration in relation to a de facto relationship if it is satisfied:

  • the total period of the de facto relationship is at least two years; or
  • there is a child of the de facto relationship; or
  • that one party has made a substantial contribution to the de facto relationship and a failure to make the order or declaration would result in a serious injustice; or
  • the relationship is or was registered under a prescribed State or Territory law.

Additionally, s 90SK of the Act sets out the geographical requirements to be met in order for a declaration or an order to be made, and the court must be satisfied:

  • that either or both of the parties to the de facto relationship had ordinarily resided in the participating jurisdiction when the application for the declaration or order was made, and either;
  • both parties to the de facto relationship resided in the relevant jurisdiction for at least a third of the de facto relationship; or the party applying for the declaration or order made substantial contributions in relation to the family or property in the relevant jurisdiction.

If the respondent is based in another country, it is important to find out whether Australia has an agreement with the other country in relation to civil proceedings, and such countries are referred to as a Convention country, as set out in reg 21AE of the Family Law Regulations 1984 (Cth). The other important detail, besides whether the respondent resides in a Convention country, is also whether the person is a citizen of that country.

If the respondent is in a Convention country, the documents may be sent to the registrar of the Family Court, who then forwards the documents to the respondent in the Convention country. For anyone who is unsure about the requirements of overseas service, they should check the Commonwealth Attorney General’s guide to Serving a legal document across international borders on their website.

For respondents in non-Convention countries, documents may be served by post or by using a process server in that country.

Section 90G of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (the Act) outlines the circumstances when financial agreements are binding. The requirements are strict, and all parties must have been provided with independent legal advice about the effects of the agreement on the rights of the party, and the advantages and disadvantages of making the agreement. Additionally, the parties must be provided with a signed statement that independent legal advice had been sought, and that the agreement has not been terminated. After both parties have signed the agreement, both parties will be provided with either the original document, or a copy.

The Act provides the court a wide range of powers to make orders that the court deems necessary to enforce any agreements.

In demonstrating that a period of separation has begun, there are a couple of general actions that may be used as evidence, and can include:

  • one party to the marriage informing the other that the marriage is over, and which, separation will be considered to have begun from that point onwards; or
  • one party to the marriage may have begun living with a new partner or has taken steps to sever financial ties which may be actions considered as evidence that separation has commenced.

Separation can also occur when the parties may have separated, yet still reside in the same property. When demonstrating separation under one