How are property orders enforced?

How are property orders enforced?

By cropped Clara Suki

· Read time: 3 minutes

Matters regarding the division of property may arise following a relationship breakdown. If you and your partner are unable to reach an agreement about how your assets and property should be divided, you may decide to apply for a property order. 

What is a property order? 

A property order concerns the division of your property after a breakdown in marriage or de facto relationship. An order will only ever be made if the court is sure that the final result is just and equitable in all the circumstances of the case. 

The division of property involves both you and your partner honestly giving your full and frank disclosure of your financial position. This will then help all property be valued such that the court can figure out how best to allocate property fairly between both individuals. 

How are property orders enforced? 

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Courts) Rules 2021 prescribe the rules for the enforcement of property orders. These orders are enforced through the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. 

The first step in the enforcement of a property order may include retrieving more information about your partner’s financial position. You can do this by sending a written request to provide a Financial Statement within a period of 14 days. This statement then can be filed with an affidavit, such that the court is able to order your partner to attend an enforcement hearing. 

The enforcement of property orders can be complex and thus you may choose to seek legal advice. A property order is legally binding and thus both parties must take any reasonable steps to ensure that they are followed. There are many outcomes that may arise from a property order hearing, including: 

  • A declaration that a particular amount is owed to you or your former partner from the other and must be paid by a particular time 
  • The issue of an enforcement order
  • An order that prevents an individual from selling or disposing of their assets
  • An order declaring the payment of costs 
  • An order forcing an individual to sign a particular document
  • An order entitling a person to a particular asset 

It is extremely important that these orders are obeyed. Court penalties can be awarded if: 

  • An individual fails to produce the required documents
  • Fails to answer a required question adequately 
  • Attend an enforcement hearing 

What if my partner has breached an order? 

If you suspect that your partner may have breached an order, there are different options you can pursue. There may be options to attend dispute resolution or you can apply to court. As courts do not automatically enforce property orders, you would have to lodge an application to the court. The court can then decide whether it should make an order to enforce an already existing order. As enforcement can be difficult, it may also be a good idea to seek out legal advice. 

If you need any assistance regarding any property order matters, please feel free to reach us to speak with one of our friendly family lawyers.

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