The courts in Australia are the last resort for settling a property dispute between spouses. Even if you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement, you need to show the court that you’ve tried to reach an agreement through some type of alternative dispute resolution. This is called a “pre-action procedure”.
Pre-action procedures are also aimed at determining which disputes can be settled out of court and which really require the court’s intervention. While you might not be able to come to an agreement about everything, you might agree on some issues (who gets the house) and only have to bring a small number of disputes to the court (how is the debt divided).
There are several steps to the pre-action procedure:
- Inviting the other side to participate in dispute resolution, such as family counseling, mediation or arbitration.
- Agreeing on a type of dispute resolution service.
- Attending the dispute resolution and making a genuine effort to resolve the problem.
- Giving written notice to the other side if no agreement can be reached (or the other side refuses to attend the meeting) of your intention to file with the court.
- Replying to the written notice if you are on the receiving end.
Consult with an experience Family lawyer about the rules and requirements in pre-action procedures to insure that you meet all of your obligations.