How To Prepare For A Conciliation Conference?
What must I do before the Conciliation Conference?
So that you and your former partner make the best possible use of the conference, you must exchange information with each other and provide information to the Court before the conference.
In a case about financial issues, each party must have exchanged copies of relevant financial documents with the other parties at least two days before the Case Assessment Conference. If the following documents were not exchanged prior to that conference, you must ensure they are exchanged before the Conciliation Conference:
- Both the party’s three most recent taxation returns and assessments;
- any superannuation documents for each of the party’s superannuation interests, including:
– the completed Superannuation Information Form
– the trust deed and the last three financial statements for a self-managed superannuation fund
- for a corporation (business), trust or partnership where the party has a duty of disclosure under Rule 13.04, financial statements for each corporation, trust or partnership (including balance sheets, profit and loss accounts, depreciation schedules and taxation returns) for each of the last three financial years;
- for the party or a corporation (business), trust or partnership where the party has a duty of disclosure under Rule 13.04, any Business Activity Statements for the 12 months ending immediately before the first court date;
- for any corporation, its most recent annual return listing directors and shareholders, and the corporation’s constitution for any trust, the trust deed;
- for any partnership, the partnership agreement, and a market appraisal of any item of property in which a party has an interest.
This article provides general information about, and suggests ways to prepare for, a Conciliation Conference in the Family Court.
Note: Conciliation Conferences attract a fee. For more information visit the fees section www.familycourt.gov.au
What must I do before the Conciliation Conference?
A Conciliation Conference is conducted by a registrar (court lawyer).
At the conference, the registrar will look at the case from both sides and help you explore options for settling your case without any further legal action. A registrar cannot give legal advice, however, they can talk with you about the legal principles that are applied when deciding cases.
The settlement negotiations during the conference may be privileged. This means that what is said cannot be used in court later. There are some exceptions to this privilege. For example, court staff is required by law to report a suspicion or risk of child abuse and violence or threats of violence to the relevant child welfare authority.
The conference will usually last at least one and a half hours, but may be listed for a longer time in appropriate cases.
What can I expect at the conference?
The Court will usually give you instructions about what you must do before the Conciliation Conference at the Case Assessment Conference. These instructions include that, within 28 days after the conference, each party must, as far as practicable, exchange documents relevant to the financial issues as the registrar orders.
The documents required may include any documents which should have been exchanged prior to the Case Assessment Conference but have not yet been exchanged (see above) and any other documents required containing evidence about:
- the financial matters outlined in your and the other party’s Financial Statement
- financial contributions made when the parties began living together
- any inheritances, gifts or compensation payments received after the parties began living together
- any purchase or disposal of property in the 12 months prior to and since the separation and any increase
or reduction of liabilities since separation, and
- the value of any superannuation interest of a party, including the basis on which the value has been
calculated and any documents used to work out that value.
File and serve a Financial Questionnaire within 21 days after the Case Assessment Conference.
Prepare with the other party and file a Balance Sheet as required – in summary:
- – the applicant must prepare and send to the respondent an initial Balance Sheet within 28 days (it may be sent electronically)
- – the respondent must prepare and send an amended Balance Sheet within 21 days after receiving the initial draft
- – the applicant must then complete the Balance Sheet and file it with the Court within a further 14 days.
Note – It is important that you make a full and frank disclosure of all facts and documents relevant to your application. Failure to do so can delay a settlement, result in increased costs or an order for you to pay the other party’s costs. It may also lead to the Court making a greater order for a property settlement in favour of the other party.
You should also read Rule 13.04 of the Family Law Rules 2004 and the Family Court’s brochure Duty of Disclosure.
To assist with navigating this scenario for your matter, please choose James Noble Law, Brisbane’s Best Family Lawyer.
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