Family law

Family law is the law relating to divorce, separation, children, parenting arrangements, property and financial matters.  

Divorce is the legal end of the marriage between a couple. It does not deal with other matters such as maintenance and child support, the division of property, where children will live or who will be responsible for children’s care. These matters are decided separately.

Divorce, property and children

To legally end a marriage you need to apply to the Federal Circuit Court for a divorce. Orders about property and children are not dealt with as part of a divorce application. You have to make separate applications for these orders if you need them.

Online books

The Find Legal Answers Tool Kit is a collection of plain English books about the law. You can read them online or at your local public library.

Use the Tool Kit online books below to find information about family law.

The family law handbook

A practical guide for people undergoing separation and divorce. Chapters 1 and 2 have been provided by Thomson Reuters for publication on the Find Legal Answers website. Read the remaining chapters at your local public library.

Women and family law

A plain-English guide to family law in NSW, covering a range of topics such as divorce, children, property settlements and AVOs.

Useful links


The Family Law Act 1975 is a federal law that covers divorce, children and property.

The Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 is a federal law dealing with child support including the child support assessment formula.  

The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1988 is a NSW law that deals with child protection including reporting and proceedings in the Children’s Court.

Getting help

Legal Aid NSW, community legal centres and other organisations may give free legal help to people with a legal problem in NSW.

Find more sources of help on the Getting help page.

Legal information at the State Library

The State Library has a large collection of textbooks, legal commentaries, legal encyclopaedias, databases, journals, legislation and court reports - everything you need for advanced legal research.