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Family Court Introduces Pilot Program for Small Property Matters

By Chris Volpi

16th November 2020

Family law property proceedings can be a costly and lengthy process. While avoiding court proceedings by reaching amicable resolutions by consent is generally recommended and preferred, sometimes this is not possible. If court proceedings become necessary, the expense of litigation can substantially reduce the value of the matrimonial property pool that the parties are in dispute over.

This is particularly important for those matters that have a small property pool or assets that have a greater sentimental value than market value to begin with.

On 1 March 2020 the Federal Government introduced a pilot program, referred to as PPP500, for small claim property pools. The program is designed to reduce delays and provide separated couples who have a small property pool with an opportunity to settle the claim at an early stage.

To qualify as a PPP500 case, separated couples must meet the following conditions:

  • the net property of the parties (including superannuation interests) is, or is likely to be, $500,000 or less, and
  • there are no entities such as a family trust, company, or self-managed superannuation fund that require valuation; and
  • neither party in the proceedings seeks parenting or child support orders.

PPP500 cases proceed under two limbs. Under the first limb, a Registrar of the Court manages the matter and assists the parties with reaching a resolution. If the matter cannot be settled under the first limb, a short-form Judge is appointed to manage the proceedings to a final hearing where the procedures are simplified and expedited.

PPP500 cases require parties to provide disclosure and complete other simplified procedural tasks prior to the first court date. By completing these tasks before the first court date, the Court and the parties are better positioned to resolve the matter in the shortest possible time.

wilson/ryan/grose Lawyers recently acted for a client that qualified for the PPP500 trial program. We were able to assist our client with achieving an outcome on the first Court date. This was only possible because of the PPP500 pilot program.

The pilot program is currently being operated out of the Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Parramatta Federal Circuit Court registries and will run until 2022. It is expected that if the program receives positive feedback, the Government will eventually roll out the program in other Court registries around Australia.

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