A Quick Guide

01

Parenting and Property Matters in the Family Court of Australia

Parenting matters

The Family Court of Australia brochure “Before you file – pre-action procedure for parenting cases” sets out the steps to take in parenting matters before an Application is filed with the court. Please see the Family Court of Australia link below for a copy of the brochure.

In summary, each party to a parenting matter must:

STEP 1: Comply with the requirements of Compulsory Family Dispute Resolution
  • The Family Law Act 1975 requires you to obtain a certificate from a registered family dispute resolution practitioner before you file an Application for a parenting order.
  • If your Application is a new Application for a parenting order, then you must provide a certificate with your Application to the court unless, for example, the court grants you an exemption.
  • A certificate is not required in some cases, for example, if you are seeking interim or procedural orders only (generally these are orders to operate until your case has a final hearing), financial orders or Hague Abduction Convention orders.
STEP 2: Enter into a parenting plan or apply for consent orders

If the matter settles, a parenting plan or consent orders can be entered into. Such documents would usually deal with issues such as who the child/children are to live with, spend time with and communicate with.

STEP 3: Give written notice of issues and future intentions

If the matter does not settle, an offer can be made setting out the issues in dispute. A proposal is usually put forward before an Application is filed. The proposal usually sets out:

  • The issues in dispute.
  • The orders to be sought if a case is started.
  • A genuine offer to resolve the issues.
  • A nominated time (at least 14 days after the date of the letter) within which the other person must reply.
STEP 4: Reply to the proposal

If you are the party who receives an offer, you are required to respond to that offer within the nominated time. If you reply stating that the offer has been accepted, then Step 2 will apply. If however, you do not accept the offer, you must set out in a letter:

  • The issues in dispute.
  • The orders you will seek if a case is started.
  • A genuine counter offer to resolve the issues.
  • A nominated time (at least 14 days after the date of the letter) within which the initiating claimant must reply.
  • If you do not respond, the initiating party’s obligation to follow the pre-action procedure ends.
STEP 5: If no agreement is reached: taking Court action

If the parties cannot reach a resolution through correspondence, an Application is filed with the court.

Once an Application is filed, the parties must attend various court listings. The matter then progresses through the court system until it is settled or until a hearing date is allocated.

Once your matter progresses through the court system, you may need a judge to decide what is best for your children. If this is your situation, your case may be listed for a Less Adversarial Trial (“LAT”) in the Family Court. The LAT process involves the judge asking you to talk about your case in your own words, if you want to, or your lawyer can do this for you.

Property matters

The Family Court of Australia brochure “Before you file – pre-action procedure for financial cases” sets out the steps to take in property matters before an Application is filed with the court. Please see the Family Court of Australia link below for a copy of the brochure.

In summary, each party to a property matter must:

STEP 1: Invite the other parties to participate in dispute resolution

Each party is required to invite the other parties to participate in dispute resolution.

STEP 2: Agree on a dispute resolution service and attend the service

We are able to assist you in finding a suitable service to assist you in your case.

You can also visit www.familyrelationships.gov.au for further information.

STEP 3: Give written notice of issues and future intentions

If the matter does not settle, an offer can be made setting out the issues in dispute. A proposal is usually put forward before an Application is filed. The proposal usually sets out:

  • The issues in dispute.
  • The orders to be sought if a case is started.
  • A genuine offer to resolve the issues.
  • A nominated time (at least 14 days after the date of the letter) within which the other person must reply.
STEP 4: Reply to the proposal

If you are the party who receives an offer, you are required to respond to that offer within the nominated time. If however, you do not accept the offer, you must set out in a letter:

  • The issues in dispute.
  • The orders to be sought if a case is started.
  • A genuine offer to resolve the issues.
  • A nominated time (at least 14 days after the date of the letter) within which the other person must reply.
  • If you do not respond, the initiating party’s obligation to follow the pre-action procedure ends.
STEP 5: If no agreement is reached: taking Court action

If the parties cannot reach a resolution through correspondence, an Application is filed with the court.

Parties to a case have a duty to make timely, full and frank disclosure of all information relevant to the issues in dispute.

Like a parenting matter, your case can be allocated a LAT date.