For cases in the Family Court, a case assessment conference will be held as near as practicable to 28 days after the application was filed [Family Law Rules 2004 (Cth ) r 4.03 (b)]. The conference may be conducted by a mediator, but must be held in the presence of a Registrar [r 12.03]. The purpose of the conference is to enable the conference convenor to assess the case and make any recommendations about the future conduct of the case, and to attempt to resolve the case or any part of the case by agreement.
If appropriate, the case may be referred to a conciliation conference [r 12.07]. Rule 12.05 sets out the documents that must be exchanged within 28 days of the case assessment conference and before the conciliation conference and rule 12.06 sets out requirements for the completion of a financial questionnaire and balance sheet. At the conciliation conference, parties must make a genuine effort to reach agreement.
Immediately following either the conciliation conference or the case assessment conference (if no conciliation conference is scheduled), the parties attend a procedural hearing [r 12.08]. At the procedural hearing, the Court again investigates the possibility of settlement of any issue, and what issues, if any, are still in dispute.The Court can make procedural orders, including for disclosure and compliance checks, and if necessary set a date for the matter to go before a Judge.
Cases in the Federal Circuit Court may similarly be referred to a conciliation conference [Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 (Cth) r 10.05]. If the parties are able to reach agreement through conciliation or other means, they may either discontinue the application before the court or ask the Court to make consent orders [r 10.04].