Our property pool is only small but we can’t agree on division!


The Federal Circuit Court of Australia has recently introduced in family law disputes the Priority Property Pool Regime which deals with matters valued at under $500,000 (‘PPP500 regime’).


The PPP500 regime is a case allocation program designed to assist parties to resolve their disagreement via Alternate Dispute Resolution (‘ADR’) at the earliest opportunity. If ADR is not successful, the PPP500 regime allows for a less adversarial style of trial.


In order to qualify for the PPP500 regime, you need to meet the following criteria:


• The matter needs to have started after 1 March 2020; and
• The value of the net property of the parties (including superannuation interests) is (or appears to be) under $500,000; and
• There are no entities (such as family trusts, companies or self-managed superannuation funds) owned or in the effective control of either party that might require valuation or expert investigation; or
• The Court makes a declaration or notation that the case is designate as a PPP500 case.


Your case will not qualify for the PPP500 regime if you are seeking:


• Parenting orders
• Both parenting and financial (property and/or spousal maintenance or other financial) orders
• Child support or child maintenance orders
• Contravention orders; or
• Enforcement orders.


The PPP500 regime consists of a two limbed approach, comprising six steps. The first limb is led by a Registrar who directs parties to do specific things to ensure that they are ready for ADR. This assists the parties to try to reach agreement in the shortest time possible. The second limb is led by a Judge and occurs if the matter has not settled during the ADR process. The Judge applies simpler processes to arrive at a position where the Judge is ready to make a decision.


The aim of the PPP500 regime is to try to identify issues quickly in an attempt to narrow the issues in dispute and assist parties to engaged in ADR at the earliest opportunity. If ADR is unsuccessful, then the PPP500 regime provides an opportunity for a less adversarial trial based on documents rather than by examination and cross examination of witnesses.


The PPP500 regime is designed to achieve a just, efficient and timely resolution, at a cost to the parties that is reasonable and proportionate to the value of the assets in dispute in the case. It is unclear as to what constitutes reasonable and proportionate costs given this is still a very new regime.



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