Intervening parties

Who can intervene?

Section 91 of the FL Act empowers the Australian Attorney-General to intervene:

when requested to do so by a court; or

when an intervention is in the public interest; or

in proceedings relating to children.

In an intervention, the Attorney-General has all the rights, duties and liabilities of a party. It is extremely rare for the Attorney-General to intervene in family law proceedings.

In any proceedings that may affect a child’s welfare, the court may ask a child welfare officer to intervene; this officer then becomes a party to the proceedings (s 91B).

Other people with an interest in family law proceedings (e.g. grandparents) can apply to the court to become a party to the proceedings (s 92).

Procedure

Intervention by the Attorney-General

The Attorney-General is able to intervene by filing a notice giving reasons for the intervention and for any order that is sought. If the Attorney-General seeks to set aside a decree nisi, an affidavit must be filed setting out the facts and circumstances that have been relied upon. The notice and affidavit must be served on the other party to the proceedings. These documents can be served personally or by post.

Intervention by other people

Other people may intervene by filing an application stating:

their relationship to the parties to the marriage;

the reasons for the intervention; and

what court orders they are seeking.

The application must be verified by an affidavit. The documents should be served on all parties who have appeared, or given their address so documents can be served by post (seeService of documents”). If a court grants leave to (i.e. allows) a party to intervene, it may give directions about the further conduct and hearing of the proceedings.