There are various important deadlines which you need to keep in mind if you are involved in a family law matter in the Family Court of Western Australia.
Set out below is a list of important time limits to be aware of
- A husband, wife or both may apply to the Family Court for a divorce. Before an application can be lodged with the Family Court the parties must have been separated for no less than 12 months. This means that the application for divorce may be completed and filed 12 months and one day after separation.
- After a divorce application has been filed, if only one party made the application, they must serve a copy of the application on the other party
- no later than 28 days prior to the date of the hearing if the party is resident in Australia
- o later than 42 days prior to the date of the hearing if the party does not live in Australia.
- An application for property settlement and/or spousal maintenance for married couples must be commenced in the Family Court within 12 months of the date of a divorce order taking effect.
- For de facto couples, any application for property settlement and/or de facto maintenance must be commenced within two years of the date of separation.
- After a court order has been made a party has 28 days from the date of the order to lodge a notice of appeal. You cannot appeal all types of orders as of right. In some cases the courts leave is required in order to lodge a notice of appeal. In those cases the application seeking leave should also be filed within 28 days of the order being made. There are a number of specific time limits with respect to the conduct of an appeal. Failure to comply with these time limits can result in the appeal being abandoned.
- A notice to admit facts is an important document by which one party to court proceedings seeks to have the other party admits certain facts and/or the authenticity of documents to narrow the issues in the case. If you are served with a notice to admit facts you must respond to the notice by filing a notice disputing facts or authenticity of documents within 14 days of service. Failure to respond within the 14 day timeframe means that you will be taken to have admitted for the purpose of the case only, that the fact/s contained within the notice are true or that the document/s are authentic.
Set out below is a list of other time limits to be aware of if you are involved in a Family Court case
- If you, as a party or witness, or your lawyer cannot attend the Family Court personally for reasons including but not limited to distance from the Family Court, work commitments or illness, a request can be made to participate by electronic means (telephone or video link). Such request must be made to the Family Court at least 7 days before the date of the hearing.
- If your case concerns parenting/custody of children and you are asking the Family Court to make orders regarding the Christmas school holiday period, in order to increase the likelihood of the matter being heard prior to Christmas, the application must be filed no later than close of registry (4.00pm) on the second Friday of November.
- If you have been served with a Form 1 Initiating Application or a Form 2 application in a case and you wish to respond, you must file any response at least 7 clear days prior to the date fixed for the hearing.
- In relation to a Form 11 application for consent orders seeking either parenting/custody or property settlement or maintenance orders the application must be filed at the Family Court within 90 days of the earliest date on the affidavits of the parties.
- A party may seek a review of an order made by a Registrar by another judicial officer (Judge or Magistrate). The amount of time a party has to apply is dictated by the type of order which is to be reviewed.
- Subject to an order to the contrary, an application for costs must be made within 28 days of the date of a final order.
- At least 2 days before the first court date in a property settlement case each party must exchange with each other party certain financial documents (see Family Law Rules 2004 (Cth) Rule 12.02)
- You must serve promptly any document you file in the Family Court on the other party/parties
- A request to adjourn a Family Court event must be received by the Family Court no later than 12 noon on the date prior to the date fixed for the court event. If the court event is a trial or is otherwise listed before a Judge, the request should be sent at the earliest possible time before the allocated court event.
- If you are issuing subpoena for the production of documents, service of the subpoena on the recipient must be effected 14 days prior to the date in which the documents are to be produced to the Family Court.
- If you have been served with a subpoena for the production of documents and you are raising an objection, this must be filed 10 days prior to the relevant hearing.
- If you are issuing a subpoena for a party to attend the Family Court to give evidence, service must be effected on the recipient at least 7 days prior to the court event.
- Any questions to be asked of a Single Expert who has prepared a report in a Family Court case must be issued to the expert within 21 days of the report being received. The Single Expert is then required to answer the questions within 21 days.
In many of the above circumstances, the Family Court has the power to extend time. Extensions of time are not automatic and an application to the court is required. Such applications will incur unnecessary additional legal costs which can be avoided if time limits are complied with. There is also no guarantee that the Family Court will grant an extension of time. Each case is assessed by the Family Court on its merits.
** This is not an exhaustive list of all time limits in proceedings in the Family Court.