The Family Law Courts website contains information that can help you understand the processes you will go through as your family law matter progresses.
If your case is being heard in the Family Court, you will attend ‘events’ that aim to help you and your former partner resolve your dispute.
The court events you will most likely attend will vary depending on whether your case is about parenting, financial or both parenting and financial issues.
If your matter is about financial issues:
A registrar is a court lawyer who runs managed events aimed at preparing your case for trial if a judicial decision is necessary and giving you and your former partner the opportunity to reach agreement without the need for a judicial decision.
A registrar conducts your case assessment conference. The case assessment conference is the first major event for most people who have a case in the Family Court involving financial issues. It provides an opportunity for you (the parties) to reach an agreement, with the help of a registrar.
If you cannot agree, the registrar will:
- assess and clarify the main issues of disagreement and the facts of the case
- consider the information you each need to provide about the areas of disagreement and disputed facts
- where appropriate, recommend other services that might help settle the dispute (for example, further family dispute resolution or progression to a hearing), and
- explain what will happen next.
If you or the other party have lawyers, they will participate in the conference.
How do you prepare for a case assessment conference?
Each party has a duty of disclosure and must provide the Court and each other party all information relevant to an issue in the case. See the Court brochure ‘Duty of Disclosure’ for more information about your obligations.
At least two days before the first court date each party must exchange with the other parties copies of the following documents:
- TAX RETURNS the party’s three most recent taxation returns and assessments
- SUPERANNUATION any superannuation documents for each superannuation interest of the party, including:
the completed Superannuation Information Form for a self-managed superannuation fund the trust deed, and the last three financial statements
- FINANCIAL STATEMENTS for a corporation (business), trust or partnership where the party has a duty of disclosure under Rule 13.04 financial statements for each (including balance sheets, profit and loss accounts, depreciation schedules and taxation returns) for the three last financial years
- BUSINESS ACTIVITY STATEMENTS for the party or a corporation (business), trust or partnership where the party has a duty of disclosure under Rule 13.04 any Business Activity Statements for the 12 months ending immediately before the first court date
- CORPORATION DOCUMENTS for any corporation, its most recent annual return, listing directors and shareholders; and the corporation’s memorandum and articles of association
- TRUST DEED for any trust, the trust deed
- PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT for any partnership, the partnership agreement
- PROPERTY APPRAISAL a market appraisal of any item of property in which a party has an interest.
What happens at the case assessment conference?
The conference will conclude with a procedural hearing also conducted by the registrar. If you have reached an agreement, the registrar will make legally binding orders. You will not have to attend any further court events.
If you have not reached agreement, the registrar will make orders for the next steps in your case and what must be done to prepare for this. You will need to comply with any instructions on how to prepare for the next event.
The Court brochure Case Assessment Conference explains what happens at the case assessment conference. It also gives more information about what you should do to prepare for the conference.
What is the step after the case assessment conference?
The next step after a case assessment conference is either:
- A conciliation conference if appropriate, or
- Allocation to the first day before the judge if the case is suitable and ready to proceed.
After the case assessment conference you must:
File and serve a Financial Questionnaire within 21 days after the case assessment conference
Prepare with the other party and file a Balance Sheet as follows – in summary:
1. the applicant must prepare and send to the respondent an initial Balance Sheet within 28 days (it may be sent electronically) of the case assessment conference
2. the respondent must prepare and send an amended Balance Sheet within 21 days after receiving the initial draft
3. the applicant must then complete the Balance Sheet and file it with the Court within a further 14 days.
For detailed guidance on financial issues associated with your matter please call Alliance Family Law on 02 6223 2400