You have a client who has just split the sheets in an acrimonious fashion and they want to know when they get their day in Court. 

For property matters the first step after you see us is to collect your disclosure documents. We then provide them to the other side as soon as possible. How long that takes is a matter for you.

From then it should take:

  • 14 days for the other side to provide their disclosure after we have provided it to them.
  • 14 days after we receive the other sides disclosure to make an offer of settlement.
  • 14 days for the other side to:

-agree to that offer; -reject that offer but agree to mediate, or make a reasonable counteroffer which we accept; or -reject offer and mediation, so filing Court documents is the only option.

If:

-an offer is agreed to, then consent documents filed in the Court and Order issued by the Court within 2 months of filing documents; -mediation is agreed to, it will be between 1 and 2 months until the mediation occurs; -if mediation is not agreed to and documents filed in the Court, it will be 3 months until the first hearing; or -if mediation is agreed to but then unsuccessful, it will be 2 months until the mediation occurs and then a further 3 months until the first hearing.

For parenting matters, the process is as follows:

  • If the parties cannot agree on parenting arrangements, they attend Alternative dispute resolution mediation in the first instance and it will be 2 months until the ADR mediation occurs.
  • The 2 months for the ADR can be truncated by using a private ADR mediator. The cost of this is a few hundred dollars and a certificate can normally be obtained within 14 days.
  • If mediation is unsuccessful, a section 60I certificate is issued and one party can make an application to the Court. It will be 3 months until the first hearing.

Is there anything we should do rather than rush straight to Court? 

  • The biggest influencer in a children’s matter isn’t your lawyer, it is a family report writer. Family report writers are experts in child psychology and social issues, and are employed by the Court to give an independent assessment of the best interests of the children. Since their opinion is going to be vital to the outcome of the case, it is best if you work out what that opinion is before heading off to Court. Normally:

-you can attend an interview report writer within 28 days. -the report can be produced within another 14 days

  • 7 days after we receive the family report we can make an offer to the other side.
  • Within 14 days the other side should:

-agree to that offer; -reject offer but agree to mediate, or make a reasonable counteroffer which we accept; or -reject offer and mediation, so filing Court documents is the only option.

If:

-An offer is agreed to, then consent documents filed in the Court and Order issued by the Court within 2 months of filing documents. Property and children’s documents can be done at the same time. -If mediation is agreed to, it will be between 1 and 2 months until the mediation occurs. We can mediate property and children’s matters at the same time; -If mediation is not agreed to and documents filed in the Court, it will be 3 months until the first hearing; or -If mediation is agreed to but then unsuccessful, it will be 2 months until the mediation occurs and then a further 3 months until the first hearing.

I knew it wouldn’t be simple, but we can work with those time frames.