New court process for property pools under $500,000

2 March 2020

A change in court process may sound dry, if you have separated and your net property pool is under $500k, this affects you. The changes to the court process starting this week are very important.

Courts dealing with family law matters have been under significant government and media scrutiny in recent years, partly due to the large backlog of cases and the resulting delays and increased legal costs for litigants. From 1 March 2020, the Federal Circuit Court is therefore implementing a new strategy for dealing with smaller property cases (those with net property pools less than $500,000 including superannuation) in several of its registries, including Brisbane.

It is important to note that the law on ‘How’ a property division is determined is not changing, it is the court ‘process’ that is changing.

From 1 March 2020 these cases will be referred to as “Priority Property Pools under $500,000 Cases” or ‘PPP500 Cases’ and will be subject to simplified procedures, different forms and more intensive case management from the court.

In introducing this new change, the government has referred to research from the AIFS (Australian Institute of Family Studies) showing that approximately 57% of court applicaions for property settlement were for less than $500k and on average the time in court to finalise an application, was 15 months.

The procedure will not apply to cases involving entities such as companies, trusts or self-managed superannuation funds or cases which also involve parenting or child support issues.

The court has stated that the purpose of the PPP500 procedures is to achieve a just, efficient and timely resolution of PPP500 cases at a cost to the parties that is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances of the case.

The purpose will be achieved by identifying and narrowing the issues in dispute and assisting the parties to undertake Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) at the earliest opportunity, and where ADR is unsuccessful, providing an opportunity for a less adversarial trial or a hearing on the papers.

The most significant changes in the PPP500 procedures are:

  1. New Forms: If your case is PPP500, then apart from filing an Initiating Application with the court, you will also need to file a PPP500 ‘Financial Summary’ form. The PPP500 ‘Financial Summary’ form will be filed instead of an Affidavit and Financial Statement. The PPP500 Financial Summary form requires less information and is more directive and therefore should be easier for litigants to complete themselves or require less time (and cost) for their lawyer to complete.
  1. New Procedures Before the First Court Date: Before the first court date, a Registrar will review the application and issue directions as they see as appropriate or necessary in that case, which the parties will be expected to comply with before the first court date. This is unlike a normal property application where no directions will issue until the first court date. These directions will include things like requiring the parties to exchange financial disclosure documents, requiring the parties to appoint a valuer if they cannot reach agreement about values, and discussing an appropriate process for ADR.
  1. The First Court Date: The Registrar will expect the parties to have complied with the directions order and will want to settle the ‘Balance Sheet’ (of assets and liabilities) at the first court date. If the matter hasn’t settled by this point the Registrar will make directions for the parties to attend ADR, being either a Conciliation Conference, Legal Aid Conference or private mediation. In Queensland, the State Legal Aid office has been given additional funding to enable them to facilitate conferences in appropriate PPP500 cases.
  1. The Second Court Date: If the matter doesn’t resolve at ADR then the Registrar will review the ‘Balance Sheet’ and prepare a set of agreed facts so the case can be transferred to the judge for judicial management.
  1. Judge-led Phase: The matter will come before the judge for a procedural hearing. The judge will finalise the ‘Balance Sheet’ and identify the issues in dispute. The judge will make directions for a final hearing, including the filing of Affidavits and a Financial Statement. The judge may hear a trial in the traditional process or make directions to hear a trial on the papers or by way of a less adversarial trial (where the rules of evidence do not apply).


It is important to remember that the majority of property settlement cases are resolved through negotiation and agreement and do not go to court. This new court process is only for those property cases where agreement can’t be reached and an Application to the court is filed.

Need advice?

For a fixed-cost no-obligation initial consultation contact Michael Lynch Family Lawyers by calling (07) 3221 4300 or emailing to [email protected]


Client Testimonials

Your team’s communication with me was exceptional, I knew exactly what was happening.
A.A., Eatons Hill
The professionalism and reliability delivered by Amy Honan was fantastic. I had an urgent matter around my property sale and Amy offered to provide assistance over a weekend if I required it – that’s above and beyond!
E.F., Nundah
So pleased to have had a good, sound and knowledgeable firm.
C.W., Brookfield
I really liked the personable service by Michael, the simple plain language he adopts and his patience.
A.O., Kedron
Amy, thanks very much to you and your team. Throughout my dealings with MLFL I have been continually impressed with your level of professionalism and, in particular, your understanding of circumstances and the articulate way you conduct yourself. I was completely satisfied with today’s outcome and without your experience and expertise in family law I doubt that the result would have been achieved.
M.R., West End
I always felt that the service provided by Michael Lynch Family Lawyers was of a high standard. Each time, after appointments I came away feeling secure. Keep doing what you are and maintain the ‘family feel’ that permeates your services.
C.W., Brookfield
Amy’s work was extremely professional but above all she has a manner and wisdom in dealing with people under stress. I will be recommending your firm to anyone that requires assistance.
K.H., Augustine Heights
Michael Lynch Family Lawyers always gave me competent and knowledgeable advice. I was consistently kept up to date. The meetings and phone calls were kept business-like, yet caring and thoughtful of my emotional state at the time. Thank you.
J.S., Holland Park
Your newsletters are great, I appreciate them.
K.B., Carina
I liked my solicitor keeping things as simple as possible.
S.M., Clayfield
My lawyer acted with professionalism in all her dealings with me and with the lawyer on the other side. I was always kept in the loop. I liked her approach. Thanks.
D.S., Coorparoo
Michael Lynch Family Lawyers have really listened to me. I felt confident my case was handled well. The law has changed recently, and I did not feel that a previous law practice I spoke to was suitably up-to-date.
P.B., Carindale
Michael is a good listener. My documentation maintained the high moral ground.
S.S., Hamilton
Thank you for providing me with a professional yet empathetic approach to gain the best outcome for me. My solicitor was excellent in explaining the processes and in representing me in Court. You have great customer service!
T.V., Everton Park
I appreciate you being upfront with fee estimates. You also have a fantastic website and the seminars REALLY helped to get me focussed.
T.C., Tarragindi
You guys provide extraordinary service.
A.O., North Brisbane
I was impressed by my solicitor’s attention to detail and her concern for me, and that the process was explained to me and that I understood it at all times.
B.W., Chapel Hill
The staff at Michael Lynch Family Lawyers were great. Everyone was fantastic, professional, understanding, caring and always communicated with me. I knew I was in good hands.
A.A., Eatons Hill
I appreciate my lawyer’s professional approach and her being on top of my situation.
N.S., Mt Gravatt
Amy, thank you. You have been diligent, accurate and pro-active for the entire duration of my matter. I appreciate it.
R.P., Cleveland
Michael knew what he was talking about.
R.M., Warwick
I really appreciated the happiness of your secretarial staff.
G.C., Clayfield
Thank you, you placed my needs first, you were aware of the need to reach a final result and not get caught up in the personal issues of the other party.
S.L., Moranbah
I like your friendly service and the ability to speak to my solicitor directly.
R.G., Wishart
Your team is professional, warm, friendly and real.
N.R., Crows Nest
I was also always confident that I was getting the very best advice.
T.S., Flinders
May I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to you and your staff for the excellent professional services I received. In a word, priceless.
D.H., Hendra
Michael Lynch Family Lawyers are easy to deal with and their systems are good.
D.T., Ferny Grove
I was very impressed with the first initial interview. Everything was well explained and the advice was honest about what I should expect.
C.M., Morningside
Your staff is knowledgeable, professional and very calm.
A.C., Helensvale
My family lawyer was very helpful in assisting me to combat a very ugly situation without stooping to the low levels that the other solicitor attempted to take us.
M.J., Manly
If I need a family lawyer in the future I’ll be heading to Michael Lynch Family Lawyers again.
C.W., Brookfield
I’m very glad Michael is my lawyer and not the other side’s solicitor.
S.S., Hamilton
Thank you, you kept me sane in a difficult situation and gave me the encouragement and the confidence to keep going. You made me feel extremely comfortable.
A.M., Chambers Flat
At Michael Lynch Family Lawyers I got professional and no nonsense advice, costs were within quoted amounts and my matter was resolved quickly – well done!
L.R., Ascot
Many thanks for your assistance – life is now great – I’m moving on.
J.K., Mansfield
My solicitor provided a personalised service, prompt and quick responses and cost information prior to my commitment.
G.C., Southport
I like that my lawyer treated me like a friend and kept jargon to a minimum. She was easy to contact and kept me informed.
L.R., Samford
Thank you for your ongoing conciliatory approach in this matter and as always I appreciate your level headed advice. I certainly feel that I ended up with the right Solicitor.
S.C., Nundah
A personalised and professional service. Information has been clear and provided timely to assist my decision-making.
S.S., Hamilton
Lovely to deal with and provides a balanced view in what are very difficult circumstances.
A.C., Morningside
Thank you for the outstanding legal advice you have provided and professionalism in which you conduct yourself. I am truly thankful that it was you who represented me.
M.T., Stafford
Michael is very personable and very good at covering the material and explaining the strategy.
J.O., Hawthorne
Michael was the most knowledgeable of all lawyers I spoke to when looking for a lawyer. He showed professionalism.
R.R., Brighton
Thank you for being very personable, professional and always providing me with the most appropriate advice in my times of difficulty. The other party’s lawyers were extremely aggressive, while Michael Lynch Family Lawyers remained calm and professional.
S.D., Parkinson
Amy, thank you for all that you have done during this matter. You impressed me with your professionalism from our initial meeting, and you have proven beyond doubt, to have had the skills and knowledge required. You are a credit to the company, and I would highly recommend you to anyone in a similar situation.
R.P., Cleveland
Thank you for the great newsletter. Your article on “Coping with Christmas” is brilliant – clear, caring and helpful. Thanks again!
C.T., Bribie Island

I have appreciated the way that you and the staff at your firm have handled my situation. I would especially like to mention the professional and caring way my lawyer conducted my case, I am deeply grateful and extremely happy with the results. I will be referring others to your service.

J.H., Wellington Point

Thank you for helping me through this difficult time. You have been caring, compassionate and efficient. Some of my divorcing friends have not been so fortunate. In my mind you are the best family lawyer in Brisbane. If anyone I know needs a good family lawyer, I will tell them to speak to you. Thanks again.

B.T., Clayfield
I was guided through a really difficult time with expertise of Michael Lynch Family Lawyers. I am more than happy with the outcome of mediation.
J.H., Windaroo
Michael, thank you again for your presence here yesterday. We really appreciated the clarity and accessibility of your presentation. It is a rare thing to find somebody who not only has expertise, but also has a skill in communicating it.
J.S., Brisbane

I just wanted to get in touch to say thanks for helping me get through my custody and settlement. Thanks again to you and your staff. You have had a significant positive impact in my kids’ lives!

B.S., Brisbane

Thank you Debra and Helen for all the work you did for me, you both made the process manageable and brought sense to the chaos.

R.B., Toowong

I would like to thank your company Miss Brown for the support and compassion shown while dealing with my matter.

C.M., Brisbane

Thank you very much to everyone at Michael Lynch Family Lawyers. Thank you for helping me get my life back and make a fresh start. To have that fresh start without fear and anxiety is priceless.

A.A., Perth, Your Content Goes Here

“Many thanks to Stephanie for her help and support through this time, I was incredibly impressed with her work.” 

L. K., North Lakes, Your Content Goes Here