‘Priority property pools’, where the matrimonial assets are valued at less than $500,000 are the subject of new arrangements in the Federal Circuit Court.
The Brisbane, Parramatta, Adelaide and Melbourne registries of the Federal Circuit Court have implemented a new regime for applications for property and spousal maintenance filed after 1 March 2020. It targets net asset pools of less than $500,000 including superannuation interests – called Priority property pools (‘PPP500’). The new procedure applies where:
- there are no entities such as a family trust, company, or self-managed superannuation fund that might require valuation or expert investigation; and
- the case is only financial, not involving other matters such as parenting orders or enforcement.
An Initiating Application is required, along with the PPP500 Financial Summary document. No affidavit or financial statement is required.
Prior to the first court date, the registry will make case management orders. These may include financial disclosure, alternative dispute resolution, valuations, the filing of affidavits in relation to any interim issues and affording procedural fairness to the trustee of any superannuation fund if a split is sought.
The first court date will be before a registrar and will focus on case assessment and preparations for alternative dispute resolution. If required, urgent issues will be referred to a judge.
The alternative dispute resolution that follows will involve either an internal conciliation conference or external mediation. If agreement is reached, orders can be made by the registrar after the conciliation conference, or by submitting orders to the court.
If no agreement is reached, the registrar will check and re-settle the balance sheet and refer the matter to a judge.
The process to this point is intended to take no more than 90 days.
The matter will then proceed before a judge in the traditional manner, with directions for filing of affidavit material and other directions for hearing.
The By Lawyers Property Settlement guide has been updated accordingly.