Parties who are contemplating a divorce or separation that will involve property settlement can apply to the Family Court for a financial order if they cannot resolve their differences.
The Family Court encourages parties to make a property settlement on their own. To that end, the court has adopted certain procedures that parties must follow before seeking a financial order.
Before applying for a financial order, the parties to a divorce or separation must follow certain pre-action procedures. These include making a good faith effort to arrive at a negotiated property settlement. If you cannot work out your differences without outside help, you must:
Use a dispute resolution service;
Except in urgent cases and those meeting other specified criteria (including the threat of violence), the failure to engage in dispute resolution before applying to the Family Court for a financial order can result in financial penalties.
Before commencing a proceeding that seeks a property settlement in Family Court, each party must make a full and frank financial disclosure to the other. This duty of disclosure, specified in more detail in Family Law Rule 13.04, requires each party to tell the other about:
All sources of earnings and income, including but not limited to wages, bonuses, interest, business income, superannuation and other retirement income, dividends and other investment income, and trust income;
Before the first court date in a Family Court case that involves a property settlement, Family Law Rule 12.02 requires the parties to exchange all of the following documents:
A copy of each party’s three most recent tax returns;