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Family Property Dispute Law

Settling Family Property Disputes Before Court


If you have a family law dispute, the Pre-Action Procedure can help you to resolve your dispute without needing to go to court. Family Law Property Disputes can be challenging to navigate. This is what you need to know about the new procedure so that you can achieve a quick, practical and fair out of court solution.

Pre-Action Procedures for Family Law Property Disputes

Under innovative rules introduced in 2021, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has introduced a Pre-Action Procedure, which now makes it compulsory for parties to a property settlement claim to try and settle their dispute before going to Court.

The aim of the Pre-Action Procedure is to keep more cases from progressing to Court by making parties take genuine steps to try to settle their property claim quickly and cheaply at an early stage. This gives parties an alternative to Court after their relationship ends.

Specifically, the Pre-Action Procedure is designed to encourage parties to:

  • Exchange documents and relevant information at an early stage;
  • Reach early cost-effective settlements of family law property disputes;
  • Narrow the issues in dispute - establishing at an early stage what is and is not agreed upon; and
  • Only seek realistic outcomes that are reasonable based on the facts of the case.

What is the New Pre-Action Procedure?

The Pre-Action Procedure is a set of rules that regulates the process a party is required to follow before they apply to Court for a Family Law Property Dispute. The Court checks that these rules have been complied with by making parties sign a Genuine Steps Certificate.

What is a Genuine Steps Certificate?

Genuine Steps Certificate is a document that confirms the parties have complied with the Pre-Action Procedure. Both parties are required to affirm via signature that they have:

  • Read the Pre-Action Procedure brochure;
  • Taken genuine steps to attempt resolution of the family law dispute;
  • Invited the other party to participate in family dispute resolution;
  • Participate in family law dispute resolution;
  • Exchanged relevant financial documents; and
  • Given the other party notice of intention to apply to Court.

The Court will verify a Genuine Steps Certificate at the commencement of each family law case. If the Court is not satisfied both parties have complied with the Pre-Action Procedure, it may choose to adjourn the case until both parties have gone through family dispute resolution. Alternatively, the Court may make costs orders against a non-complying party.

What do I need to do to comply with the Pre-Action Procedure?

The steps required under the Pre-Action Procedure include:

  • Provision to the other party of a copy of the Pre-Action Procedure brochure;
  • Participation in family dispute resolution;
  • A genuine offer to resolve the property dispute;
  • Provision to the other party of a written notice summarising the issues of the case;
  • A full exchange of relevant financial documents;
  • Disclosing to the other party any orders to be sought in a Court application; and
  • Provision of 14 day's notice to the other party before proceeding to Court.

How Galbally & O'Bryan's Property Dispute Lawyers can help you

At Galbally & O'Bryan, we are experienced family lawyers for property disputes with a proven track record of working through family law disputes with a broad range of clients to achieve positive outcomes.

We can help you by:

  • Advising you of your rights and obligations under the Pre-Action Procedure;
  • Assisting you to negotiate a resolution for your property dispute;
  • Attempting to resolve your case before it proceeds to Court; and
  • Representing you in Court.

If you are involved in a family law property dispute and are unsure how best to resolve it, please get in touch with family lawyers for property disputes Andrew O'Bryan or Elizabeth Gray on (03) 9200 2533 or send an email to Andrew or Elizabeth.

How to contact our Office

Melbourne Office
259 William Street 

T (03) 9200 2533 


Dandenong Office 
Shop 9/147-151 Foster Street 

T (03) 9769 2510 


Pakenham Office 
Shop 1, 15 John Street 

T (03) 5941 7990 


The information on this website is of a general nature only and may not reflect recent changes to certain areas of law. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for discussing your situation with a qualified legal practitioner. Contact us for more information.