Family LawProperty settlementSpousal Maintenance

Time Limits – Don’t Miss the Family Law Deadline

By 21/09/2018 No Comments

Did you know that for separated couples, there are time limits to when you can apply to the Court for financial orders? And, that if you miss this time limit you may lose your right to a property settlement or spousal maintenance?

Don’t worry if you didn’t, you are not alone and we are here to help.

The purpose of this post is to give you an understanding of what time limits may apply to you.

Time Limits

De Facto Relationship

For unmarried couples who are in a de facto relationship, you have 2 years from the date of separation to apply to the Court for financial orders. If you aren’t sure whether you are in a de facto relationship, please see our post “Am I in a De Facto Relationship?” or contact us for more detailed advice.


If you are married, you can apply to the Court for financial orders at any time. Because there is no time limit, we recommend waiting until after your property settlement is finalised before applying for Divorce. This will ensure that the time limit does not become an issue for you. For more information on Divorce, please see our post “How do I Apply for Divorce?”.


Couples who are divorced have 1 year from the date the Divorce Order takes effect to make an application to the Court for a property settlement or spousal maintenance.

What if I’m out of time?

If you have missed the above legal deadlines, you should seek urgent legal advice to discuss your options.

It may be possible to seek the Court’s permission to apply out of time but this is not an automatic right. The Court will only agree in very limited circumstances. This usually includes if:

– you or your child would suffer hardship if you were not granted leave to apply out of time AND you can show that you have reasonable prospects of a successful property or spousal maintenance claim; and

– for spousal maintenance, at the end of the time limitation period, you were not able to support yourself without an income tested pension, allowance or benefit.

It is also possible to apply to the Court (without the need for the Court’s permission) if your former partner consents to the Application being made out of time.

Takeaway Point

There are strict time limits that apply in Family Law and it is important to ensure that you are aware of the deadline that applies to your situation. An expiring time limit is not something that you want to sneak up on you!

Would you like further information?

For further information, please contact us today or book an appointment online.


The information contained on this site is for general guidance only.  No person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information.  Appropriate professional advice should be sought based on your particular circumstances. 

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