Main purpose of the new Family Law Rules 2004
The main purpose of the Family Law Rules 2004, which came into effect on 29
March 2004, is to ensure that each case is resolved in a just and timely manner
at a cost to the parties and the court that is reasonable in the circumstances
of the case.
Some of the features of the 2004 Rules are as follows:
- To introduce 25 prescribed forms;
- Simplification of procedures;
- A dictionary;
- Simplified terminology;
- Encouragement in settlement procedures with:
- New Pre-action procedures;
- Compulsory offers of settlement;
- Prior to filing, various settlement attempts carried out.
- New procedures for the production of documents and disclosure;
- Appointment of a single expert witness (for example a valuer to value
property or a business) and;
- New procedures for subpoenas that reduce the costs of appearing in court.
This is not a comprehensive list but highlights the most important features
of the amendments. The most significant change to most cases will be the
compulsory inclusion of procedures towards settlement. This highlights an even
stronger emphasis on settlement than ever before in the Family Court system. In
regards to the procedures for negotiating a settlement you should seek the
advice of a solicitor.
Before starting a case, each party to the case must comply with the
pre-action procedures (see article) including attempting to resolve the dispute
using primary dispute resolution methods.
The exceptions to this rule are:
- for a parenting case where the case involves allegations of child abuse or
- for a property case where the case involves allegations of family violence
- where the application is urgent;
- where the applicant would be unduly prejudiced;
- there has been a previous Court application between the same parties in
the 12 months immediately before the start of the case;
- the case is an Application for Divorce; or
- the case is a Child Support Application or Appeal.
The court may take into account a party's failure to comply with a pre-action
procedure when considering whether to order payment of the other party’s legal
If you would like more information on this legal topic, or you wish to obtain
formal advice regarding your situation, contact Johnston Withers Barristers &
Solicitors. They are located at 17 Sturt Street, Adelaide SA 5000 or
call them on (08) 8231 1110.
Johnston Withers comprises fourteen lawyers, two paralegals and nineteen
support staff. We deliver legal services to clients ranging from large
corporations, trade unions, and community organisations to small businesses,
families and individuals. Johnston Withers have permanent offices in Adelaide,
Port Augusta and Whyalla, and visit Clare regularly. Service delivery is
provided through a team structure with teams being organised to meet client
needs quickly and cost effectively.