7 February 2007
House: House of Representatives
The Act commences on the
day it receives Royal Assent but has retrospective effect (1
July 2005 to 9 October 2006).
To retrospectively validate fee increases for
divorce proceedings in the Family Court of Western Australia.
law is primarily set out in the Family Law Act 1975, the
Family Law Regulations 1984 and the Marriage Act
1961. In all States and Territories except Western
Australia, individuals may apply for a divorce through either the
Family Court of Australia, or the Federal Magistrates
In 1976, under section 41 of the Family
Law Act 1975, Western Australia established the only State
family court in Australia the Family Court of Western
It is the Commonwealth government s intention
to have a divorce fee which is consistent throughout
Australia.(3) Accordingly, the filing fee for a divorce
in the Family Court of Western Australia matches the equivalent fee
in the Federal Magistrates Court.
The filing fees for a divorce order in the
Family Court of Australia and the Family Court of Western Australia
are set by the Family Law Regulations 1984. Filing fees
for the Federal Magistrates Court are set by the Federal
Magistrates Regulations 2000.
However, when the filing fee for a divorce
application in the Federal Magistrates Court was raised on 1 July
2005, the Family Law Regulations applying to the Family Court of
Western Australia were not amended accordingly.
The Family Court of Western Australia began
charging the increased fee, on the assumption that the amendment to
the regulations had been made. The mistake was realised in 2006 and
in on 9 October 2006 the regulations were amended. During the
period 1 July 2005 to 9 October 2006 the Family Court of Western
Australia charged applicants the correct fee ie mirroring that of
the Federal Magistrates Court but did so without legal
The purpose of the bill is to validate the
fees which were charged during that period.
A divorce application to the Federal
Magistrates Court and the Family Court of Western Australia now
costs $405. Fees for an application for divorce in the Family Court
of Australia (as opposed to the simpler process available through
the Federal Magistrates Court) are $639.(4)
There has been no comment on the bill
specifically, or on divorce fees more generally, from political
parties or interest groups in the past few months.
Section 3 of the bill provides
retrospective cover for the fees charged by the Family Court of
Western Australia for a divorce order from 1 July 2005 to 9 October
As there were two fee increases, two periods
This paper has been prepared to support the work of the
Australian Parliament using information available at the time of
production. The views expressed do not reflect an official position
of the Parliamentary Library, nor do they constitute professional
Published by the Parliamentary Library, 2007.