When family law disputes involve property or financial issues, the case will not proceed to trial until a case assessment conference is held before a registrar
Persons seeking property orders have to attend a case assessment in the Family Court. However, cases that only involve parenting issues will immediately continue to a procedural hearing. In most cases, a personal appearance is required in a case assessment, but the court may permit otherwise if there is a valid reason and permission is sought at least seven days before the scheduled conference.
Officiated by a registrar, a case assessment gives an opportunity for all parties to reach a temporary or final agreement through negotiations and dispute resolutions. In the event that an agreement is not reached, the registrar will recommend other services to aid in settling the dispute or facilitate preparation for a hearing.
Since a case assessment conference involves financial disputes, each party is required to disclose information relevant to issues in the case. Two days before the first court date, all parties must also exchange copies of these documents:
the party’s three most recent tax returns and assessments
Financial Statements (Including Balance Sheets, Profit and Loss Accounts, Depreciation Schedules and Taxation Returns for the last three financial years) for a corporation, trust or partnership where the party has a duty of disclosure under Rule 13.04
Business Activity Statements for the 12 months ending immediately before the first court date for a corporation, trust or partnership where the party has a duty of disclosure under Rule 13.04
A case assessment conference involves three stages: assessment, negotiation and procedural hearing. It usually lasts for an hour and could be conducted with both parties present or in separate sessions.
During the assessment, the registrar will answer questions; inquire on issues of family violence or concerns regarding negotiating directly with the other person and allow each person to outline obstacles that prevents the parties from reaching an agreement.
Proposals on settling the dispute will be discussed during the negotiation stage. Consent of everyone involved is required to reach an agreement.
The procedural hearing is the formalization of the outcome of the case assessment conference. If an agreement is reached, the registrar will make legally binding orders and the parties will not have to attend any other court events. If an agreement is not reached, the registrar will make orders for the next procedural steps and both parties should comply with any instructions on preparing for the next event.