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;
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 family violence;
for a property case where the case involves allegations of family violence or fraud;
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 costs.
The above information is an extract from the AussieLegal Family Law Kit which includes detailed information and case studies on the Family Law Rules, Divorce, Child Residence & Child Access, Property Settlements, Child Support and Spousal Maintenance. The Family Law Kit also includes a Property Settlement Calculator which can help you estimate what your fair share of the matrimonial assets you are entitled to in the event of separation.
The Kit will be an invaluable guide you if you choose to act for yourself when making an application to the Family Court. Alternatively, if you choose to have a lawyer acting for you, the Family Law Kit will help you better understand what your lawyer is doing, help you ask the right questions and help you make informed decisions.
Click on the link above to read more about the Kit.