The thought of taking the step to make an appointment with a Family Lawyer is daunting for most people. Some people may have never stepped into a law firm and suddenly they feel as though they are being “forced” to listen to their “rights” and pay exhaustive upfront fees during one of the most vulnerable experiences they will go through.
An important question to consider is when do I need to actually make an appointment with a family lawyer? What if I am not ready? Like milk, bread and other pantry items the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and the respective Family Law Rules 2004 impose expiration dates for when certain matters can be determined through the court process. Parties to a relationship breakdown are cautioned that these limitations are taken seriously and they should be aware of them if they are going through a relationship breakdown.
Below are 5 key expiry dates to consider and give an indication of when legal advice should be sought regarding your options:
For parties to apply for a divorce they must have been separated for at least 12 consecutive months. There may be instances where parties have lived separately under one roof which will be accepted by the Court provided that certain processes are adhered to.
- Section 60I Certificates
It is a requirement that parties attend dispute resolution before commencing parenting proceedings, save for in exceptional circumstances. Section 60I Certificates are issued to parties that attend a dispute resolution event prior to commencing parenting proceedings to satisfy the Family and Federal Circuit Court that an attempt to resolve the dispute has been made. Section 60I Certificates have a 12 month limitation from the date of issue. If parenting proceedings are to be commenced after the 12 month period, a further dispute resolution conference may be required prior to the application being accepted.
- Parenting proceedings
Both married couples and de facto couples do not have a restriction as to when they can seek parenting orders in relation to children. It is important to remember that parenting orders can only be sought for children under the age of 18 and the Courts do not have the power to impose parenting orders on the children of parties once they become adults.
- Property proceedings - Married Couples
If the parties are not yet divorced, there is no time limit applicable to file an application for property orders. If parties were married and then divorced, an application for property orders must be filed within 12 months of the date that the divorce order takes effect (this is the date the divorce certificate is issued, opposed to the divorce being granted). Though, exceptions can apply, however leave must be granted by the Family Court to consider an application made out of time before the late application is considered.
- Property proceedings- De facto couples
De facto couples must file an application for property orders within 2 years of separation. Exceptions can apply similar to married couples, though the process can be lengthy and expensive. Disputes may arise as to when the date of separation was, as well and independent legal advice should be sought in this respect.
If you have a question in relation to time limitations relating to family law matters please contact Marsdens Law Group to speak to an Accredited Family Law Specialist.
The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.