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If you have recently separated, and have not yet undertaken a property settlement, there have been recent changes made by the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia that you need to be aware of.
These changes relate to how a matter is to be dealt with by the Courts in circumstances where the net asset pool (including superannuation) is (or appears to be) under $500,000 (PPP500 cases).
What is a PPP500 Case?
A PPP500 case is an application for an alteration of property interests pursuant to section 79 of the Family Law Act (marital property settlement) or section 90SM of the Family Law Act (de facto property settlement) where the following apply:
- The net assets of the relationship (superannuation included) do not exceed $500,000; and
- There are no entities such as family trusts, companies, or self-managed superfunds that are owned or under the control of either party.
The following types of cases are not PPP500 cases:
- Cases where parenting orders are sought;
- Cases where parenting and financial orders are sought together;
- Child support cases;
- Child Maintenance cases; or
- Contravention applications
What is the purpose of the changes?
The purpose of these changes is to ensure that parties are able to achieve a just, efficient and timely resolution of property settlement matters at a cost that is reasonable and proportionate given the size of their asset pool. This is achieved by
How is this achieved?
In order to ensure a timely resolution of PPP500 cases the changes implement a two-phase Case Management process.
Limb one of that process involves the matter being led by a Registrar of the court who will make procedural orders relating to the disclosure of documents, obtaining valuations and engaging expert witnesses. After settling the Balance Sheet, the Registrar will then refer the matter for Alternative Dispute resolution with either:
- A Registrar (Conciliation Conference);
- An external mediator; or
- A Legal Aid Conference
If the matter is unable to be resolved during phase one, the Registrar will then make an order for the matter to be transferred to a judge for case management.
Limb two is the judge led determination phase of the case management process. At the first hearing with the Judge, in circumstances where the ADR has been unsuccessful the Judge will provide an opportunity for a less adversarial trial or a hearing on the papers.
When will these changes take effect?
The changes will apply to all family law applications for property settlement filed in the Brisbane, Paramatta, Adelaide and Melbourne registries on or after 1 March 2020.
If you have recently separated and intend on commencing property settlement proceedings on or before 1 March 2020, it is important that you seek some legal advice regarding the possibility that your matter may be determined to be a PPP500 case and what this means for you.
We can help you. Call us on 84519040