Time limits you need to know about in family law

Published 18 Jan 2019

In matters of family law, there are a number of time constraints and limits surrounding when you can and can't take certain legal actions. If you're considering filing for divorce or launching proceedings with respect to property and/or parenting, it's important you know what your time frames are for achieving the legal actions you desire. Most of the issues around timing are outlined in the Family Law Act (1975).

Here are some common time limitations you should be aware of when it comes to family law.


In order to apply for divorce, you and your partner need to have been separated for a period of at least 12 months. It's not always necessary to have been living apart for these 12 months, so long as you're still separated in the time you were living together. However, doing so will require you to provide extra evidence to the Court.

While you can't apply for a divorce before being separated for 12 months, you can begin negotiations around property and/or children if the marriage has broken down. These issues can be resolved before the divorce is finalised.

Property proceedings

There are limits on how long after a relationship has ended you can still launch property settlement proceedings.

For those that are divorced, proceedings must be brought before the Court within 12 months of the divorce order coming into effect. In a similar vein, for de-facto relationships that have ended, proceedings must be launched within 24 months of the separation date. The separation date needs to be agreed upon by both parties - if there is disagreement, the Court will decide based on the evidence they're presented with by both parties, as well as any independent relevant evidence.

Special permission can sometimes be given by the Court  if you fall outside these time frames, but it is not guaranteed. Leave from these time frames can be requested under Section 44(6) of the Family Law Act 1975, if the Court is convinced a partner or child would undergo hardship if the leave were not granted.

Parenting proceedings

There are no set-in-stone limitations for filing applications when it comes to parenting matters, and it doesn't matter what form of relationship the parties involved had.

Malouf Solicitors are experts in family law. If you need legal assistance in this area, reach out to the team today.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

I remain extremely grateful for Maloufs legal representation related to my financial management of the estate of my brother and for your continuing help and advice in this matter. As an aside, I always recommend Maloufs to my friends and family members who are seeking the best legal representation - only last week, I strongly advised a close family friend that their best interests would be served by arranging an appointment at your Parramatta offices.
John of Parramatta NSW

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