The A- Z of Family Law

Legal jargon can be confusing and we often get asked by our clients “but what does that mean?”.

In our new series on the A – Z of Family Law we’ll go through the commonly used terms for each letter of the alphabet. No surprises, the first letter up is A.


An Application is one of the most important things in a family law matter, because it’s one of the documents you prepare and file to start your case. There are various types of applications, and in this blog we discuss the 3 most common types.

Application for Divorce

The first type of Application is your application for divorce, which is probably the most commonly referred to and well-known type of Application.

Initiating Application (to start proceedings)

The second type of Application is called an initiating application. It ‘originates’ and starts your matter when you are unable to resolve it by yourself and you need the Court’s intervention.

In the initiating application you can seek interim orders or final orders, or both, which is very common. Interim orders are about interim short term issues that need to be considered by the Court. Final orders outline what you want to occur on a final basis. So, in your application, as an example, you might be seeking interim orders in relation to the care arrangements for the children, and final orders in relation to what you say should occur at the very end of the matter when it all resolves. In relation to property, an interim issue might be needing to sell the house because neither of party can afford to pay the mortgage repayments. On a final basis, the Orders you seek will cover the overall division of all your assets.

Application in a case (during a matter)

Another kind of application that can be made throughout the duration of a matter is an application in a case. This is filed during the course of proceedings if an issue comes up that cannot wait until the final determination. If this does arise we file what’s called an application in a case to get your matter be listed for an interim hearing to have the issue resolved.


Affidavits set out your ‘story’ in the form of evidence. Your Affidavit outlines your evidence in support of the Orders you seek in your application. For example, if you are seeking orders in relation to the care of the children, and you say, “My ex partner was really abusive towards me, he hit the children, he drinks alcohol to excess, he takes illicit drugs”.  You might seek orders in relation to him undertaking drug and alcohol testing. You might also seek orders in relation to parental responsibility. Therefore, the affidavit is absolutely essential to have right in your matter.

Alternative dispute resolution

Alternative dispute resolution is becoming increasingly important in family law matters. This refers to ways to resolve your matter out of the court process. It is so important right now because the courts have significant delays. Not to mention Court is an incredibly stressful process and you are leaving the decision of your family and relationship outcome up to a third party. You don’t get to have a say in the final outcome if it is determined by a Judge.

Alternative dispute resolution looks at ways to resolve your matter through arbitration or mediation. If you can endeavour to reach a resolution with the assistance of a mediator, or some other third party, that takes it out of the court system, then that is always recommended by lawyers if it is appropriate for your specific case as you can craft agreements that work best for you and your family.


You are able to appeal your decision in a matter if you do have a determination made by a judge. If there is an error of fact or law you have to file a notice of appeal within 28 days of that decision having been made. It’s really important that if you consider that there has been an issue that needs to be considered on appeal, that you seek legal advice because it is also quite a niche and rarely used part of the law.

Check out the other Letters in the A – Z of Family Law:

B: Barristers, Best interest of the child

C: Child support, Collaborative Law

D: Divorce, Disclosure

E: Estate Planning

F: Financial Disclosure and Financial Agreement

G: Case Guardians, Litigation Guardians

H: Hearings, Hearsay Evidence

I: Injunctions, Interim Hearings

J&K: Judicial Officers, Section 90K

L: Lawyers, Legal Aid, Limitation Period

M: Mediation, Marriage

N: Notice of Risk 

O: Offer of Settlement

If you have any questions about the words we have covered in this article or would like us to explain another term please do not hesitate to contact us at Southern Waters Legal.