Before an application for property division or parenting arrangements can be made in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia there are a number of “pre-action procedures” that must first be considered.
The aim of the pre-action procedures is for parties to take genuine steps to explore the possibilities for resolution and, where a full resolution cannot be reached, to narrow the issues that require determination by the Court.
So what is required? Parties are required to:
- Read the pre-action procedures;
- Comply with the duty of disclosure;
- Make inquiries about and invite the other party to participate in dispute resolution – such as family counselling, mediation, negotiation, conciliation or arbitration; and
- If dispute resolution is unsuccessful, write to the other party setting out what they are seeking.
Anyone who does not comply – unless exempt – risks consequences such as an order for costs being made against them. A matter might be exempt if there are allegations of violence or if there is urgency (such as a child having been detained by one parent or risk of disposal of assets by one party).
The Court expects parties to comply with these pre-action procedures; indeed, if a party does commence proceedings they must file a Genuine Steps Certificate addressing these steps.
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