Less Adversarial Trial

The Family Court has developed a trial process aimed at minimising the negative impact that an adversarial trial can have on the parties involved, especially the children.

The Family Court takes a less adversarial approach to trials in child-related proceedings. This means a trial in a child-related proceeding.

  • Is focused on the children and their future;

  • Is flexible so that it can meet the needs of particular situations;

  • Is anticipated to be less costly compared to traditional trials and will save time in court;

  • Is less adversarial and less formal than is usually the case in a court.

Key features of the less adversarial approach, which vary significantly from a traditional hearing include.

  • The trial starts when the parties first meet the judge;

  • The judge controls the hearing process and its inquiry, not the lawyers;

  • The judge concentrates on getting the best information from all parties about the specific needs of the children;

  • A family consultant is in court from the first day as an expert adviser to the judge and parties;

  • The parties can speak directly to the judge and explain in their own words their case and what they want for their children;

  • The judge, rather than the parties or their lawyers, decides how the trial is run;

  • The same judge and family consultant deal with the matter throughout the trial.

While the less adversarial procedures apply mainly to children’s cases, they can also be applied to other cases if both parties consent.

More information can be found here: http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/family-law-matters/about-going-to-court-and-court-processes/if-your-case-is-in-the-family-court-of-australia/less-adversarial-trial-in-parenting-cases


Australian Institute of Family Studies 2007:77 ‘Less adversarial’ proceedings in children’s cases.pdf

In the Media

2011.03.15 The case for “less adversarial” family law