Relationships and kids

Commonly asked questions about family law

Yes. The limitation periods for filing different family law applications vary. Some of the key limitation periods include:

  • Divorce – there is no time limit to apply, but you need to have been separated for at least 12 months. This can include a period when you have been separated but still living under the same roof.
  • Property settlement and spousal maintenance – if you were a married couple, the limitation period is 12 months from the date of your divorce. You can apply to the court for orders any time after final separation and before your divorce. If you were a de facto couple, then the limitation period is two years from the date of your final separation.
  • Appeals against orders of the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court – the limitation period to appeal a decision can vary from seven days to 28 days.

It is often the case that family law matters can be resolved outside of the court. Certainly that is our aim. If your situation is difficult and you are unsure about your entitlements, we will help you to understand your legal position and will try to facilitate a fair agreement between you and your former partner, including preparing you for mediation or conciliation and if agreement cannot be reached, final hearing.

Mediation is a form of dispute resolution that allows you to discuss openly what you want to achieve, including property settlement, arrangements for your children and child support. It is a flexible settlement tool and can be either formal or informal, where a mediator helps you to identify and resolve problems. Mediation can help you to understand your former partner’s goals and identify the areas that require resolution.

You must attempt mediation with a registered dispute resolution provider before starting any parenting proceedings in either the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court. Urgent parenting cases are exempt from this requirement.

No. You don’t have to involve the courts at all. You can make an informal agreement with your former partner. However, legally they won’t be required to abide by this agreement. If you and your former partner can reach a final agreement, you can apply to the Family Court to formalise the agreement, which would not require you to appear in court yourself. Orders made in the Family and Federal Circuit Courts are binding and enforceable and offer the best protection against a future claim by your partner.

In NSW the Family Court, the Federal Circuit Court and Local Courts deal with family law matters. The Local Court and Federal Circuit Court generally deal with simpler, shorter matters, while more complex matters are handled by the Family Court.

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