Finances and property: We cannot agree
When financial matters become a source of disagreement between parties, especially former spouses or de facto partners, seeking resolution is crucial. This article aims to simplify the process of handling financial disputes in Australia, shedding light on legal options, time limits, pre-action procedures, and the importance of disclosure.
Time Limits and Legal Proceedings

If parties cannot reach an agreement on financial matters, legal intervention may be necessary. However, time limits, or limitation periods, apply to most financial proceedings:
Marriage-related proceedings:
Must be initiated within 12 months of a divorce order or decree of nullity.
De facto relationship proceedings:
Must be initiated within two years of the relationship breakdown.
These limits don't apply if the application involves only declarations of existing property interests or variations of existing property settlement or maintenance orders.
Before Applying: Compulsory Pre-action Procedures

Parties must adhere to pre-action procedures before applying for financial orders. The aim is to encourage dispute resolution and potentially resolve matters without court involvement.
Procedures also apply to potential respondents, ensuring both parties genuinely try to find common ground before escalating the dispute.
What's Required in Pre-action Procedures

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021 outline specific requirements for prospective parties:
Participate in dispute resolution services like Family Dispute Resolution counselling.
If unsuccessful, write to the other party, setting out your claim and exploring settlement options.
Comply with the duty of disclosure, providing timely, full, and frank disclosure of relevant information.
Duty to Disclose: What Documents Are Required:

Parties have a duty to exchange documents, including a schedule of assets, income, and liabilities.
Examples of documents include taxation returns, bank records, business activity statements, and other relevant financial information.
Non-disclosure may have serious consequences, including contempt of court.
Consequences of Non-compliance with Pre-action Procedures

Serious consequences, such as cost penalties, may apply to those who unreasonably fail to comply.
The court may order the non-complying party to pay part or all of the other party's costs.
Compliance or non-compliance may influence the court's decisions on how the case progresses.
Exemptions from Pre-action Procedures

Parties are exempt if:
The proceeding involves family violence.
The application is urgent.
Compliance would unduly prejudice the case.
A previous application was made in the same cause of action in the past 12 months.
The proceeding is a child support application or involves the court's bankruptcy jurisdiction.
If dispute resolution fails, an application to the court for orders is necessary.
Priority Property Pool Cases (PPP Cases):

PPP Cases offer a streamlined process for financial orders when the net value of the property is less than $550,000. The process aims for simplicity, speed, and cost-effectiveness.
Starting New Proceedings:
Decide whether to seek final orders only or both final and interim orders.
Pay the relevant fee and file necessary documents, including an Initiating Application, Financial Statement, Genuine Steps Certificate, and a Financial Questionnaire or affidavit.
Amending Existing Proceedings:

Add financial orders to existing parenting proceedings by amending documents.
Requirements for amending documents are outlined in the Rules, with an additional filing fee.

Handling financial disputes involves a structured legal process, adherence to pre-action procedures, and open disclosure. Parties are encouraged to explore resolution avenues before resorting to court intervention.
Сonsultation with a Family Law Solicitor
After hours and urgent assistance mobile: +61 405 064 960 (Principal Solicitor).
For further assistance or questions, a 1-hour free consultation is available via phone or our website, ensuring tailored guidance for your unique situation. Feel free to contact us!
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