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In the Family Court when either parenting or property proceedings have gone through the initial stages and for property matters, the parties have attended either a case assessment conference or a Conciliation or Mediation Style Conference, the case will be listed for what is known as a Readiness Hearing. Unless there are interim applications prior, this is the next scheduled Court hearing after your matter is placed in the “defended list” which is when the matter “joins the queue” of cases awaiting a trial date.
How long does it take for a readiness hearing?
The length of time litigants may expect to wait for a Readiness Hearing varies on a number of factors, but typically you should expect to wait not less than approximately 12 months after your matter is allocated for one.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the time litigants may expect a listing of a Readiness Hearing date have increased. The most recent statistics suggest that the median time to trial is 135 weeks (more than 2.5 years) from when proceedings commenced.
How to prepare for a readiness hearing?
In order to prepare for a Readiness Hearing, typically you will be required to file what is known as your Trial material, either at the same time as the other party or sequential filing, namely:
- The Applicant file their documents;
- The Respondent then file their material and respond; and
- The Applicant then respond to new issues only.
For property cases you will ordinarily be required to file:
- Minutes of proposed orders (i.e. what you are seeking);
- A Trial Affidavit which sets out all of your evidence you seek to rely upon at Trial;
- A Form 13 Financial Statement;
- An Undertaking as to disclosure;
- A Trial Plan;
- Any witness Affidavits you seek to rely upon.
Typically, the same applies for a parenting case, save that the Form 13 is often not necessary.
It is imperative that prior to the Readiness Hearing and in compliance with the Orders made prior to same, you prepare or instruct your lawyers to prepare the necessary documents for your case to be “ready” for a Trial. This is to ensure that your matter progresses through the system, as if you fail to file your trial material, leave to proceed on an undefended basis may be granted to the other party. Undefended basis means that you do not have trial evidence before the Court for the purpose of determining:
- a just and equitable outcome of property matters or;
- what parenting orders are in your children’s best interests.
In the event this occurs, you will obviously be prejudiced as you effectively have no say in the evidence that is presented before the Court.
What happens at a readiness hearing?
At the Readiness Hearing, which is typically conducted by a Registrar, the relevant Judicial Officer will program the matter into a Callover (Trial Allocation Date in other jurisdictions). The Callover, depending on the length of estimated Trial, maybe 3 to a further 12 months following the Readiness Hearing date. Given the length of time to a Callover, it is imperative that you do comply with the Orders made prior to the Readiness Hearing for the filing of your material so not to further delay your matter.
If you require any assistance in the preparation of your Trial documents or attendance at a Readiness Hearing or to obtain parenting orders, please do not hesitate to contact our offices for an appointment to speak with one of our lawyers.