Sarah Walker: A common question we get asked in family property settlements is how long will my property settlement take?
Hi, I’m Sarah Walker and I’m a family lawyer here at Turnbull Hill Lawyers. Today I’ll be talking about time frames in family law property settlements.
A common question we get asked is how long will my family law property settlement take? This is dependent upon a number of factors. Firstly. Everyone is under a duty of disclosure to make what is called full and frank disclosure. This means that you and your ex partner will have to provide each other with all your financial documents. Once this has occurred you are then able to either negotiate, mediate or, if required, file your proceedings in court.
Once you and your ex partner have attended to your duty of disclosure and noting that this on average can take up to two weeks, but if there are more complex issues or companies or structures, this might may take a little longer.
Also, if there is no agreement reached as to the value of some entities or assets, you may be required to proceed with obtaining or formal valuation. These can take anywhere from a couple of weeks or up to a couple of months.
For example, if you’re required to get a business structure valued. Once you’ve ironed out any outstanding issues of value, you can then proceed to either negotiate either directly between you and your ex partner, or via your lawyers. If no agreement is reached via negotiation, you can proceed to attend mediation.
You can do a mediation either with lawyers or without lawyers.
With the mediation, there will be a trained third party who will act as the middleman and try and reach an agreement by firstly identifying the issues in dispute and then encouraging you to try and reach an agreement. Failing that, the next step would be to commence proceedings in court. This will cause a further delay, as once you file your matter with the court, you do not generally receive a first return date, which is the date in which all matters first, before, before a judge or a registrar.
For a period of approximately 6 weeks, if your matter is required to be filed in court, generally, the court will require you to attend mediation for your property matter. If you are unable to reach an agreement, then it may be necessary to have a judge decide your property dispute.
The time frame in which this can happen is can be up to two years. For example, in some registries, other registries may have a three year. Before you can get to a judge. It is therefore really important that you get legal advice at the start of your property settlement, as this may guide you and assist you with reaching an agreement earlier rather than later and having to proceed down the court path.