When spouses separate the first thing they should do is to attempt to resolve all of the issues arising from their separation by some form of negotiation. This may be simply working out a settlement with the other spouse or it may involve a four way meeting with their lawyers, a mediation, or a collaborative law process.


If all of their attempts to resolve the issues fail then a court action must be commenced.


The first step is to prepare and file a Notice of Family Claim and serve it on the other spouse. That spouse then has 30 days to file a Response to Family Claim.


Once the Response has been served a Judicial Case Conference (JCC) is set which is a meeting with the spouses, their lawyers and a Judge. The Judge will act as a mediator and attempt to resolve the outstanding issues. It usually takes approximately two months to obtain a date for a JCC. At the JCC the Judge will only make an order if all of the parties agree to a Consent Order.


Only when the JCC has been completed can a spouse apply to the court for a court order. This will usually take an additional three weeks depending on the complexity of the issues.