In the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) there are new rules, new forms and new procedures. The pre-action procedures explain what steps a family law litigant must take before starting Court proceedings. You need to certify that you have made a genuine attempt to settle the matter. You do this by filing a Genuine Steps Certificate. This details what you did to try and resolve your family law dispute, before deciding on going to Court. There are serious consequences for failing to follow these pre-action procedures.
Genuine Steps Certificate Form
The form is located on the website of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia here.
Whether you are an applicant or a respondent, you must complete Parts A, B and D of the form.
When should this form be filed?
An applicant seeking final and/or interlocutory orders must file this form with an Initiating Application. A respondent seeking final and/or interlocutory orders must file this form with a Response to Initiating Application.
However, this form is not required to be filed with an Application in a Proceeding. A party filing an Application in a Proceeding must in their affidavit explain how they have made a reasonable and genuine attempt to settle the issue to which the application relates. This is required under Rule 4.03 of the Family Law Rules 2021.
Why is this form required?
This form is required to confirm each parties’ compliance with the pre-action procedures, as outlined in Schedule 1 of the Family Law Rules 2021. Before an application to start a proceeding is filed with the Court, each party is required to make a genuine effort to resolve the issues in dispute by following the pre-action procedures, unless an exception applies.
What counts as a genuine effort to resolve a dispute?
Each party must make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute through dispute resolution by:
- giving a copy of the pre-action procedures to the other party;
- making inquiries about the dispute resolution services available to assist with resolving your dispute;
- inviting the other party to participate in dispute resolution with an agreed person or organisation, where it is safe to do so;
- cooperating with the other party to agree on an appropriate dispute resolution service;
- participating in dispute resolution with the other party; and
- providing written notice to the other party of your intention to start proceedings in the Court.
If you are given a written notice, you must respond within the timeframe indicated in the notice.
In financial proceedings, each party should begin exchanging their financial information.
In parenting proceedings, each party should begin exchanging copies of documents relevant to an issue in dispute with the other party.
Can I be exempt from the pre-action procedures?
A party may be exempt from complying with the pre-action procedures if:
- In parenting proceedings, a party alleges child abuse or family violence, or a risk of child abuse or family violence;
- In property proceedings, a party allege family violence, or a risk of family violence;
- The Initiating Application or Response to Initiating Application has been assessed as urgent;
- The applicant would be unduly prejudiced if required to comply with the pre-action procedures;
- Either party filed a family law application in the Court less than 12 months ago; or
- The application relates to divorce, nullity or validity of marriage, child support or bankruptcy.
These exemptions are found at Rule 4.01(2) of the Family Law Rules 2021.
If you have not complied with the relevant preaction procedures, you must explain which exception you are seeking to rely on at question 4 of the form.
Get Help from a Family Lawyer
The best way to ensure you are fully compliant with the pre-action procedures and that your Genuine Steps Certificate is adequate is to seek the assistance of an experienced family lawyer. Jano Family Law provides top quality family law at a fixed fee and a fair price. Take action today by completing our New Client Form to get started.