Family Law Practice Direction – Priority Property Pools under $500,000

(FAM-PPP500)

1. Introduction

1.1 This Practice Direction applies to family law applications filed in the Brisbane, Parramatta, Adelaide and Melbourne registries of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (the Court).

1.2 This Practice Direction applies to all proceedings that are defined as a Priority Property Pool under $500,000 (PPP500 case).

1.3 It is to be read together with:

  1. the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (Family Law Act);
  2. the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021 (Family Law Rules), where applicable;
  3. Guide for practitioners and parties in PPP500 cases; and
  4. Family Law Practice Direction – Financial proceedings.

1.4 This Practice Direction applies to all proceedings commenced on or after 1 September 2021. This Practice Direction will also apply to all proceedings commenced prior to 1 September 2021, unless unfair or impractical to do so.

1.5 This Practice Direction revokes and replaces Practice Direction 2 of 2020: Case Management – Family Law (Priority Property Pools under $500,000) Financial Cases.

2. Purpose

2.1 The purpose of this Practice Direction is to achieve a just, efficient and timely resolution of PPP500 cases, at a reasonable and proportionate cost to the parties in all the circumstances.

2.2 The purpose will be achieved by identifying and narrowing the issues in dispute and assisting the parties to undertake:

  1. Dispute Resolution at the earliest opportunity; and
  2. where Dispute Resolution is unsuccessful, providing an opportunity for a short-form expedited hearing or a hearing on the papers.

3. Requirements for a PPP500 case

3.1 A PPP500 case is defined as a proceeding where:

  1. an Initiating Application (Family Law) was filed in the Brisbane, Parramatta, Adelaide or Melbourne registries of the Court after 1 March 2020 and invokes the jurisdiction of the Court arising out of a matrimonial cause or defacto financial cause pursuant to the Family Law Act; and
  2. the value of the net property of the parties (including superannuation interests) is, or appears to be, under $500,000; and
  3. there are no entities (such as a family trust, company, or self-managed superannuation fund) owned or in the effective control of either party that might require valuation or expert investigation; or
  4. the Court makes a declaration or notation that the proceeding is designated as a PPP500 case.

3.2 The following are not PPP500 cases:

  1. proceedings where parenting orders are sought;
  2. proceedings where both parenting and financial (property and/or spousal maintenance or other financial) orders are sought;
  3. child support cases;
  4. child maintenance cases;
  5. contravention applications; and
  6. enforcement applications.

3.3 Each prospective party to the proceeding must comply with the pre-action procedures in Schedule 1 of the Family Law Rules, unless an exception in rule 4.01(2) applies. Those pre-action procedures require parties to take genuine steps to resolve the dispute before proceedings are instituted.

3.4 A Genuine Steps Certificate must be filed with any Initiating Application (Family Law) or Response to Initiating Application seeking financial orders.

4. Commencing a PPP500 case

4.1 The PPP500 Financial Summary is an approved form for use in PPP500 cases under rule 15.21 of the Family Law Rules.

4.2 Elements of the Family Law Rules are partially suspended for a PPP500 case. In particular, the requirement to file an affidavit, Financial Questionnaire and Financial Statement is waived until:

  1. the Court directs a party to file an affidavit, Financial Questionnaire and Financial Statement; or
  2. directions requiring the filing of further material are made in preparation for a Final Hearing, following unsuccessful Dispute Resolution event/s.

4.3 A party seeking financial orders where the net property of the parties, including superannuation interests is, or appears to be, under $500,000 should commence proceedings by filing:

  1. an Initiating Application (Family Law);
  2. a PPP500 Financial Summary; and
  3. a Genuine Steps Certificate, confirming the applicant’s compliance with the pre-action procedures listed in Schedule 1 of the Family Law Rules.

4.4 Irrespective of whether the proceeding is identified as a PPP500 case at the time of filing, the Court may designate a PPP500 case at any time, including before a Response to Initiating Application has been filed.

4.5 Where the Court designates a PPP500 case after proceedings commence, the Court may make the following orders before the first Court date:

  1. for the parties to file a PPP500 Financial Summary;
  2. for the exchange of financial documents, and
  3. procedural orders and directions for the management of the PPP500 case.

5. Further information

5.1 For further information about PPP500 cases, including the Guide for practitioners and parties in PPP500 cases, parties should refer to the Court’s website at www.fcfcoa.gov.au.

 

The Honourable Justice William Alstergren
Chief Justice (Division 1) | Chief Judge (Division 2)
Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia
Re-issued: 1 September 2021