Like other family law lawyers, I am often asked whether non-parties (persons that are not directly involved in the family law litigation) are able to access the Court records relating to the case.
Documents filed in a family law case (and other documents relating to the case) are held in a Family Court case file. This information is protected under the Family Law Act 1975 and the Family Law Rules 2004. For example:
- Rule 24.13 of the Family Law Rules 2004 limits those who are allowed to access the Court’s records in family law cases;
- Section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 limits the publication of reports of family law proceedings and of lists of cases. There are exceptions to this;
- Family Law Judgments are reported by the Court in a de-identified form (for example, with pseudonyms replacing the parties’ real names).
There are also exceptions to the restrictions to a Court file, including research (Regulation 24.13(1)(d) Family Law Rules 2004) or by the Australian Taxation Office (Commissioner of Taxation & Darling (2014) FLC 93-583).