The property settlement process can be a lengthy one, largely dependant on both yours and your former partners ability to negotiate and agree on property and financial matters. Under Australian family law there is an expectation negotiation will have occurred either directly between you and your former partner, or through a mediated process, before it is brought before the Court.
The process outlined below is the ‘straight-line’ path from beginning to end. Agreement can be reached at any point, and it is not unusual for the need to repeat some of the steps.
Before commencing any action there is a need to determine the assets and liaiblities of the relationship through a financial disclosure process. During this process each party is required to provide all relevant information related to property and liabilities of the relationship to the other party. This process will usually involve your lawyer. The aim is to agree the property of the relationship and its value.
Pre-action procedures may also include negotiation and mediation between you and your former partner with a view to reach agreement.
To commence proceedings in the Court you must file an Application which sets out your orders with a financial statement, and where applicable your marriage certificate. Time limits to commence proceedings do apply. Court sealed copies of the Application are served on your former partner, the Respondent.
Usually your first court date will be what is called a Directions Hearing. The aim here is for the Registrar to direct the parties with a view to negotiating a settlement. If you are unable to negotiate a settlement at the Directions Hearing the Registrar will direct that a Conciliation Conference be held.
The Conciliation Conference is held by the Registrar to conduct detailed negotiations, with your lawyers present, in an attempt to resolve the dispute. At the end of the Conference if an agreement has not been reached, the Registrar will issue a Trial Notice.
The Registrar will allocate sufficient time for the hearing to be held. This will allow for you and your former partner and any witnesses to give evidence to the Judge and for the lawyers to make their submissions on your behalf. At the end of the Hearing the Judge will give their judgement and Orders finalising the proceedings.
To determine whether a spousal maintenance claim is right for you contact us to book a time to discuss your unique circumstances with one of our expert family lawyers.