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Family Court Subpoenas

Peta Krarup
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15 March 2024

I am representing myself in Court in relation to my family law matter - can I file my own subpoenas?

A Subpoena is a form that a party can use to ask the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia to require third parties (for example, police, child welfare agencies, schools or financial institutions) to provide information relating to parenting and/or financial matters before the Court. A Subpoena can require a person to provide documents to the Court, to attend Court to give evidence, or both. In family law matters, the most common Subpoenas are to produce documents.

If you are self-represented, then you must seek the Court’s permission first to file a Subpoena and you cannot file more than five (5) Subpoenas without further permission of the Court. A Subpoena cannot be filed online in circumstances where you are seeking interim orders. It must be filed at the Court Registry where the matter is being heard and you must pay the Court filing fee. A list of the relevant email addresses and postal addresses for court registries can be found on the Court’s website.

What happens after a Subpoena has been filed?

Once a Subpoena is filed, you must serve a copy of the Subpoena on the person or agency subpoenaed, each of the persons named in the Subpoena and the other parties/legal representatives in the matter. When subpoenaing documents, you can serve a Subpoena in writing however, if you are subpoenaing a person, then you must arrange to have the Subpoena personally served on that person.

Payments required when serving a Subpoena

The Subpoena will specify the date the Subpoena must be served by. When serving a Subpoena, you can also be required to pay “conduct monies” to the person or agency subpoenaed. Conduct monies are monies a person or agency can charge for their time and costs incurred in complying with the Subpoena. You should always check the conduct monies that may be payable prior to filing a Subpoena.

What if an objection to produce documents is made?

The Subpoena will specify a date of production, which is the date that the person or agency subpoenaed must provide the documents to the Court, or if required, the date they must attend Court to give evidence. If a person or agency objects to the Subpoena, then they must file a Notice of Objection and the Court will list the matter for a hearing about that issue.

What happens if no objections are filed?

After the date of production has passed, and no objections are filed, you must file a Notice of Request to Inspect for each Subpoena with the Court. You can file this document online. This form confirms that you have served the Subpoena on all relevant parties and no objections have been made to the Subpoena.  

Once you file the Notice, you then must contact the Chambers of the Registrar or Judge your matter is before, in writing, and seek an order permitting the Court Registry to either provide you with an electronic copy of the documents or, arrangements for you to personally inspect the documents at your closest Court Registry. Any correspondence to the Court should be copied to all other parties and/or legal representatives. In most cases, self-represented parties will be given permission to inspect the documents but not copy the documents. This means that you can make notes from what the documents say, but you cannot take copies.

Get advice early

If you are self-represented in your family law proceedings, and you intend on issuing subpoenas, you are encouraged to seek legal advice about what steps you need to take to ensure that you are issuing subpoenas in the correct way and in compliance with the Court Rules.  Contact our office to make an appointment with one of our solicitors to obtain advice on your situation on (07) 4963 2000 or through our online contact form below.