If you are thinking about separating from your spouse, have recently separated or your family law matter is currently progressing through the Court system- there are several key numbers which you need to be aware of. In this article, we outline a number of time-limits prescribed under The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), which may apply to your situation. Three important time-frames that you need to consider are:
12 months from date of a Divorce Order
Upon a Divorce Order becoming effective (1 month and 1 day after a Divorce Order is made by the Court), both spouses have a time-limit of 12 months to apply to the Family Courts to seek property settlement or spousal support Orders.
If parties do not file an Application to the Family Courts within this time-limit, they need to ask the Court for permission to apply ‘out of time”. It is within the Court’s discretion to refuse to grant leave (or permission) to apply out of time, so good reasons need to be given to explain why a party did not file within the time limit. Some examples are outlined below.
This is one of the reasons that we recommend finalising the division of your property settlement prior to applying for a Divorce. It is also beneficial for numerous reasons to finalise a property settlement as soon as possible. Look out for our article on ‘Reasons to formalise your property settlement as soon as possible’, which will be posted shortly.
Please note that you do not need to be divorced in order to apply to the Court for property or spousal maintenance Orders.
2 years from the date of separation for De Facto couples
Similar to married couples who separate, there is also a time-limit to apply to the Court for property or spousal maintenance Orders for De Facto couples who have separated. The time-limit is 2 years from the date of separation.
Again, if a party fails to apply within the time-limit, they will need to ask the Court’s permission to apply outside the time-limit.
The Court may grant leave to apply of ‘out of time’ in the following circumstances:
- Where you have the consent of your former spouse or partner;
- Where it would cause financial hardship to you or to a child of the relationship if permission was not granted; and
- For spousal maintenance, if you would have been unable to support yourself without an income tested person, allowance or benefit outside the time limit.
When the Court considers whether hardship is present, they will consider things such as the length of the delay after the time limit has elapsed, the reason for the original delay, the strength of your case and the prejudice to your former partner or spouse resulting from the delay. In order to succeed you will need to show that you have a valid claim and that there are good reasons for the delay.
28 days to appeal a decision in the Family Courts
If, after a contested hearing, Interim or Final Orders have been made in your Family Law Matter that is before the Family Courts, you have 28 days to appeal that decision.
Please note that you can also appeal any Orders made by Judges and Registrars, including procedural Orders regarding the conduct of the case. If this is the case, depending on the orders made, the time-limit will be 21 days or 28 days. If you wish to appeal an Order made by a Judge or Registrar, we recommend that you seek legal advice.
If you have any questions in relation to the information provided in this article, or would like to discuss your situation with one of our experienced family lawyers, please contact us on (02) 9688 6023 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is not legal advice.