LawTalk Blog

Current timeframes for Family Law matters in the Federal Circuit Court

Time frames and delays in the Federal Circuit Court for Family Law

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia manages the highest number of family law cases in Australia. Fathomably, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia is a consistently and extraordinarily busy jurisdiction. With the continuous rise of family relationship breakdowns in our country, the frenetic demands placed on the court will not cease in the near future.

A common query asked by family law clients is “how long will my case take in court?”. Perhaps the above paragraph provides an indication that the Federal Circuit Court of Australia is in high demand, which inevitably leads to longer waiting times for all litigants.

"It will also depend on the attitude of the litigants and their ability to try and resolve the case before it proceeds to trial."

The length of time a case will take to resolve once it is within the system of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia will depend on the nature of the individual case. It will also depend on the attitude of the litigants (the parties to the case) and their ability to try and resolve the case before it proceeds to trial. Not surprisingly, the trial process involves the longest waiting time frames out of all of the court processes.  

In general, the current time frames for “non-urgent” cases in the Adelaide Registry of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia are as follows:

Family Law Property Settlements

  • First Court Hearing (also known as “First Return Date”): 8+ weeks from filing Initiating Application
  • Conciliation Conference: 4+ months from filing Initiating Application
  • Trial: 18+ months from filing Initiating Application

Family Law Children’s Issues

  • First Court Hearing (also known as “First Return Date”): 8+ weeks from filing Initiating Application
  • s11f Conference (court ordered appointment with a family consultant): 4+ months from filing Initiating Application
  • Trial: 18+ months from filing Initiating Application.

The above time frames can vary depending on the context of the case before the court, any complications that may arise during the litigation process and the complexity of the legal issues at hand.

It is important that potential litigants are aware of the timeframes prior to commencing the court process. This is because such timeframes may impact on the litigant’s life significantly and result in increased and prolonged stress.

Understandably, some court matters are inevitable; particularly when the litigant on the other side is not willing to negotiate or the matter involves highly sensitive issues. In such cases the litigants must prepare themselves for a potentially lengthy process and appreciate that given the overwhelming demands placed on the Federal Circuit Court of Australia the length of the process is unavoidable.  


Please note, this Blog is posted in Adelaide, South Australia by Andersons Solicitors. It relates to Australian Federal legislation. Andersons Solicitors is a medium sized law firm servicing metropolitan Adelaide and regional South Australia across all areas of law for individuals and businesses.


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