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Property settlement

Is there a time limit?

Posted: December 21, 2023

Property settlement – is there a time limit? Dividing assets can be a daunting prospect during what is likely to be an already difficult time. Recently separated parties are often confused about when they can or should start property settlement proceedings with their ex-partner.


  • Separated married or de facto couples can initiate a property settlement at any time after the date of separation. This is regardless of whether they are legally divorced or still living together.
  • Rushing into a property settlement without proper disclosure and valuation of assets and liabilities can lead to unfavourable outcomes.
  • Specific time limits apply for commencing property settlement depending on your relationship status. The limits are: two years for de facto couples and 12 months for divorced couples.
  • Seeking legal advice from experienced family lawyers is highly recommended to navigate the complexities of family law property settlements and ensure a fair division of assets.

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The end of a relationship is a challenging time. One of the many concerns that arise is the division of assets and property.

Family law property settlements can be complicated. When is exactly to start the process is a common source of confusion.  This article clarifies when separated parties can commence a family law property settlement and sheds light on important timelines that mustbe adhered to.


Separated married or de facto couples have the legal right to initiate a property settlement at any time following the date of separation. You don’t need to wait for a divorce to be finalised before addressing property division. The mere fact of separation, even if you’re still living under the same roof, entitles you to move forward with this process.

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While the law allows for an early start to property settlement, it’s important to exercise caution. Sometimes, separated parties might feel pressured to hastily agree to a division of their property. However, this can be a mistake. Until all assets and liabilities in the property pool have been properly disclosed and valued, it’s difficult to determine a fair and equitable division. Rushing into a settlement can result in unintended consequences.


Separated parties do not have unlimited time to negotiate a property settlement. Time limits apply depending on your specific situation:

  • De facto couples: you must file an application for property settlement (either an Application for Consent Order or an Initiating Application for contested proceedings) within two years of the date of separation.
  • Married couples: For those who have obtained a divorce, an application for property settlement (again, an Application for Consent Order or an Initiating Application for contested proceedings) must be filed within 12 months of the divorce order taking effect.


Family law property settlements are complex legal matters, and making informed decisions is crucial. It is strongly advised you seek legal advice.  An experienced family lawyer can guide you through the legal requirements, help draft necessary documents, and ensure that all assets and liabilities are properly disclosed and valued.

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The Law allows separated couples to begin the property settlement process at any time following their separation. It’s essential to proceed with caution, ensure proper disclosure and valuation of assets, and adhere to the specified time limits to safeguard your rights and interests in the division of assets.

If you have questions about family law property settlements and your specific circumstances, do not hesitate to contact our office.

We can arrange an initial consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers.