Reaching an agreement with the other party offers many advantages, such as:

  • you make your own decisions
  • you greatly reduce the financial and emotional costs of legal proceedings
  • your continuing relationship as parents, if you have children, is likely to work better
  • you are able to move forward and make a new life for yourself, and
  • you may improve communication with your former partner and be better able to resolve disputes in the future.
  • If you cannot reach an agreement, you may consider applying to a court for orders. For more information, see the Applying to the court for orders fact sheet
  • If you cannot reach an agreement, you may consider applying to a court for orders. For more information, see the Applying to the court for orders fact sheet

What you should do before you apply to a court

In the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, parties intending to apply for financial orders are encouraged to resolve disputed issues before filing an application.

You should make a genuine effort to resolve the matter by attending family dispute resolution.

What you must do before you apply to a court

You must make a genuine effort to resolve the matter by family dispute resolution. In the Family Court, parties intending to apply for financial orders must follow pre-action procedures, which include attending dispute resolution, before filing an application.

What are pre-action procedures and when do they apply?

The aim of the pre-action procedures is to explore areas of resolution, and where a dispute cannot be resolved to narrow the issues that require a court decision. The law about the pre-action procedure in the Family Court is set out in Rule 1.05 and Schedule 1 of the Family Law Rules 2004.

The procedures apply when:

  • anyone is considering starting a case
  • anyone is named as a respondent if a case is started, and
  • their lawyers (if any).

Pre-action procedures are not required for applications solely for child support, or where a case includes the Court’s bankruptcy jurisdiction. Also, the Court may accept that it is not possible or appropriate for the pre-action procedures to be followed in some cases.

For a complete list of applications that are exempt and the pre-action procedure step-by-step, see the brochure, Before you file – pre-action procedure for financial cases.

What financial orders can you ask for?

You can apply for orders relating to:

  • property – to say how your property, income, financial resources and debts should be shared between you
  • maintenance – to provide financial support for a (former) husband or wife, or (former) de facto partner
  • child support – in certain circumstances (under sections 96, 116, 123 or 129 of the Child Support Assessment Act). These applications are generally dealt with by the Federal Circuit Court. You should seek legal advice or contact the Department of Human Services (Child Support) on 131272 before making an application in the Federal Circuit Court. For more information visit the Department of Human Services (Child Support) website.

For general principles on how the court settles financial disputes, see Financial Cases.

For general principles on how the court settles financial disputes, see Financial Cases.

Where and how do you apply?

You can apply to the Court most appropriate for your case. For more information on how to apply, see the How do I – Apply for Property and Financial Orders.

You can apply to the Court most appropriate for your case. For more information on how to apply, see the How do I – Apply for Property and Financial Orders.