June 10, 2020

Are you finding it impossible to reach agreement with your ex about how to divide your assets? Are your total net assets worth $500,000 or less? 

You can still apply to the Court for a property settlement. In Brisbane, Parramatta, Adelaide and Melbourne there is a special Court list, commonly referred to as the small property pool list. Read on to find out more. 

Am i entitled to apply for a property settlement?

You have an automatic right to apply to the Court for a property settlement if you and your ex are married.

You may also be entitled to apply to the Court if:

  • You and your ex were considered to be in a de facto relationship; and
  • You can prove to the Court you meet other criteria (for example, your de facto relationship lasted at least two years).

We addressed what a de facto relationship is and the criteria you need to meet in a previous blog – click here

When do i have to file my application by?

There are time limits to file an Application in the Court for a property settlement or spousal maintenance. 

Relationship type

Time limit to apply to the Court


One year from the date your Divorce Order takes effect

De facto

Two years from the date of separation

There are circumstances where the Court will allow you to file out of time but it is very risky to wait. If you purchase property post separation or receive an inheritance before you have had a property settlement your ex could be entitled to a share. The Family Law team at McInnes Wilson Lawyers can provide you tailored advice regarding post separation events and how they may affect the outcome of your property settlement.

What is the small property pool list?

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia previously considered cases with large and small property pools under the same system. Recently the Court created a case management process for managing property pools which have a net value of $500,000 or less. This new process has the benefit of a Registrar closely monitoring the progress of the matter which can result in the matter resolving through alternative dispute resolution (such as a conciliation conference) at an early stage. 

For more information on the small property pool list check out the Practice Direction released by the Court click here.

Should I apply to the Court? are there alternatives?

When deciding whether to apply to the Court you should weigh up your desired outcome against how much it will cost. If you have a modest size property pool and you think you and your ex could negotiate an outcome there are out of Court options. You can reach agreement through:

  • Negotiation. You can engage one of our experienced Family Lawyers to guide negotiations between you and your ex; and/or

  • Mediation. This is a confidential process where an independent person (the Mediator) assists you and your ex resolve the issues in dispute. We can provide you advice prior to and at Mediation on what outcome would be fair. 

The Family Law Team at McInnes Wilson Lawyers can provide you advice on whether Court or an alternative path will see you achieve the best possible outcome.

If you want to know more about how to apply to the Court if you have combined net assets of $500,000 or less and what happens when your matter is in Court check out our factsheet.

We can help:

The Family Law Team at McInnes Wilson Lawyers is here to help you through every stage your property settlement. Contact us today for an obligation-free appointment.