How to Force a Property Settlement


If you’re wondering how to force a property settlement when a relationship has ended, you may find there is a lot to consider.

Quite often, especially in long-term relationships, there is a tendency for a financial ‘web’ to exist between you and your former partner – whether it’s a jointly-owned home, joint bank accounts, or other assets.

In the ordinary course of events, you and your former partner might agree as to how you wish to divide your assets.

If you do agree, it may be worthwhile considering an Application for Consent Orders.

But in some cases, you may find your former partner is motivated to delay any financial settlement because they are trying to remain in control of certain assets, particularly if those assets financially benefit them.


Tactics Used To Delay Property Settlement


1. Refusal to engage or comply with the disclosure process


It is a requirement of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021 (Cth) that both parties make full and frank disclosure of all relevant documents which support their current financial position.

It is also a requirement that this disclosure be made in a timely manner.

The information which each party is required to supply may include:

Failure to comply with these requirements may result in costs implications, such that either party may be required to pay all or part of the other party’s legal costs.


2. Refusal to engage in resolving the matter


Typically, negotiations take place by correspondence between the parties and/or their solicitors.

In circumstances where your former partner is unrepresented, and they delay or fail to provide their solicitor with meaningful instructions, or fail to respond to any letter or email which is sent directly to them, this can frustrate the process and make progressing your matter more difficult than it ought to be.

Furthermore, a usual part of the course of property settlement negotiations is attempts at alternative dispute resolution (e.g., mediation or settlement conference).

It may be that your former partner refuses to accept your invitations to attend these meetings, or they may just not show up at all.


What can you do to Force a Property Settlement?


To force a property settlement, write to your former partner or their solicitor with a proposal for prompt and full disclosure.

You may want to include a time limit for them to provide this disclosure and to make offers.

If your former partner refuses to comply with the requirements for disclosure, you can apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia seeking an order directing them to provide disclosure.

Should your former partner fail to comply with an order of the Court, regardless of whether they fail to make proper fulsome disclosure (i.e., they’re withholding information), or they fail to make disclosure entirely, they may likely face further costs penalties.

If the disclosure process has already taken place, the next step is to attempt mediation.

If your former partner refuses to attend mediation, and all other attempts to negotiate are failing due to your former partner’s delay, you can bring an Initiating Application to the Court for a property settlement.

This final step will effectively force your former partner’s hand.

However, please note that you cannot skip to this final step without exhausting all other pre-action requirements (i.e., negotiation, disclosure, mediation) to settle the matter without the need for Court intervention.

Unfortunately, if you do file an Initiating Application prematurely, you may (likely) face costs implications yourself for failing to comply with the pre-action requirements.


Contact Us


For more information about forcing a property settlement, contact us at Bambrick Legal today. We offer a free, no-obligation 15-min consultation for all enquiries.

Read more about our family law services here.

Related Blog – Out-of-Time Property Settlements

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