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Time limits in Family Law – when should I take action?

Family Law Time Limits are important dates provided for in the Family Law Act.  We are often asked ‘what are the time limits in Family Law?’.

When you are in the process of separation from a de facto partner or a marriage is breaking down, often there are many different issues competing for your attention.

It is important to seek legal advice early, and even prior to separation, so you understand your rights and entitlements before making decisions such as whether to vacate a jointly owned property.

There are time limits in which to seek property adjustment orders from the Family Law Courts. There is a two year time limit from the date of separation for de facto couples and for married couples, there is a one year time limit from the date the divorce takes effect.

An application for a divorce can only be made after one year following separation but an application for property adjustment orders can be made as soon as pre-action procedures are followed.

Family Law Lawyer If you have missed the time limits, you can seek leave for property adjustment orders to be made out of time. This can be done by consent of both parties or otherwise by satisfying the Court that hardship or substantial detriment will result to you or a child of the relationship if the Court does not grant leave to proceed out of time.

There is also the option to seek orders under the Conveyancing Act in the Supreme Court in New South Wales in relation to jointly owned property which is sometimes necessary for de facto partners who are outside the time limits provided for in the Family Law Act to seek orders in the Family Law Courts.

There have been numerous cases heard where the separation actually has occurred many decades prior. These present some difficulties for the litigants involved and raise specific ,issues of long term post separation contributions and changes to parties circumstances in the intervening period and how theses should be accounted for. Parties have been found to have relied on the representations made to them about their financial circumstances over many decades and in at least one case this led the Court to find that it was not just and equitable to make any property adjustment orders.

In the matter of Bevan & Bevan [2014] FamCAFC 19, separation had occurred 18 years earlier and the parties had arranged their finances by agreement over that period. There was an asset pool of approximately $1,125,000. The lower Court had made orders that property should be divided 60:40 in favour of the Wife. The wife on appeal argued that it was not just and equitable to make any orders altering property interests and the Appeals Court agreed. The husband now resided in the United Kingdom with a new partner, had repeatedly made representations to the Wife over a period of 16 years that she could retain the assets. All the assets were in her name. The Husband’s application was dismissed as the Court found it was not just and equitable to make property adjustment orders. This left the Husband with basically no assets and the protracted delay in his bringing proceedings was to his downfall.

It is recommended to resolve your property matters as soon as possible after separation.

People’s lives move on after separation, new partners with their own assets come on the scene and it is important to remember that the asset pool available for distribution is determined by the Court as at the date of the hearing, not the date of separation.

Contact our office today for an appointment with our Family Lawyer, Amelia Cox to seek advice about what actions you can take today to move forward.

More information regarding Family Law can be found at and at

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