Who pays for the transcript of proceedings in Family Law Court?

Who pays for the transcript of proceedings in Family Law Court appeals?

A transcript is a written record of the spoken evidence in a court case. In the Family Law Courts, all Court hearings are recorded, except uncontested divorce hearings. The Court does not order transcripts in all instances, and does not provide transcripts to parties. If a party orders a transcript then they will be responsible for the costs.

Ordinarily, if a party is appealing in the Family Law Courts, then they bear the cost of provision of the transcript, which is some cases, can be significant, possibly many hundreds of dollars or in some cases thousands of dollars. Parties considering the merits of an appeal, often do not factor into their consideration, or are not even aware of the fact they are required to meet the cost of provision of the transcript.

In some circumstances the Court may order the Court Registrar, and not the appellant, to obtain the transcript if exceptional hardship were to be caused to the appellant.

In a recent case in the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia, the appellant asked the Court to bear the cost of the provision of the transcript, claiming she could not afford the cost herself.

The case was Wolleman & Wolleman [2018] Fam CAFC 227 dated 20 November 2018.

In that case the appellant appealed against an Order of a single Judge of the Federal Circuit of Australia in relation to her contact with her two children. She made an application to the Court for an Order that the Court pay for a copy of the transcript of a two day hearing. The appellant was a single mother in receipt of Centrelink benefits and could not afford the cost of the transcript.

The Court dismissed the application stating, that although the woman could not afford to obtain the transcript, there were no exceptional circumstances to persuade the Court to pay for the trial transcript.

That did not mean the woman's appeal could not proceed. However, it may be that insofar as her grounds of appeal rely on her pointing to particular evidence before the primary Judge, she may not be able to make good those grounds.

"From the inception of the operation of the Family Court in 1976, transcripts have not been routinely provided to parties"

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Jane Ekin-Smyth

Jane Ekin-Smyth

Consultant
Stephen White

Stephen White

Partner