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Property Settlements and Family Law: Are you running out of time?

Putting your property settlement plans on hold may be a mistake for those parties who have already been separated or divorced for some time. Find out why.

Amidst the economic uncertainty we currently face, it may be tempting to put your plans to reach a property settlement with your ex-partner on hold. However, this may prove to be a mistake for those parties who have already been separated or divorced for some time.

The Family Law Act 1975 sets out strict time limits as to when a person may commence settlement proceedings. In some respects, this is a good thing because it provides certainty for parties post-separation, allowing them to move on with their lives without the ongoing risk of having to divide their assets at some point down the track.

Conversely, these time limits may be detrimental to a party who may not be aware of these limitation periods and decides they will have their family lawyer hold off on commencing legal property settlement proceedings. No two separations are the same and often people may have an informal agreement in place, or they may not realise they are entitled to a portion of the property pool. Furthermore, financial situations change and years may go by before a person may require spousal maintenance.

Time limitations for Marriages

Under Family Law, married couples must be separated for 12 months before they may apply for Divorce. After the Divorce is granted, the parties only have 12 months to commence property settlement proceedings with their family lawyers.

Time limitations for De-Facto Couples

De-Facto couples must commence property settlement proceedings within two years after separation.

Out of Time Applications

In certain cases, it may be open for parties to seek leave to bring an Out of Time Application. The Family Law Court must be provided with a good reason to grant this leave, such as the Applicant being subject to hardship should leave not be granted, or a reasonable explanation for the delay in commencing proceedings.

While legal expenses of hiring specialist family lawyers can be costly and your financial situation difficult, we recommend speaking with one of our Butler McDermott law firm property law and family law solicitors in Sunshine Coast about your situation so that you know where you stand in relation to the legal time limits that apply to your relationship.

Contact our family lawyers and property settlement solicitors in Nambour now for legal advice and services pertaining to your specific situation.

This article is not intended to advise you in relation to your specific circumstances and should be used as a general guide only.

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Peter Boyce


Peter has been practising as a Nambour Solicitor since 1977 and joined Butler McDermott Lawyers the same year.

With over 40 years practicing as a Sunshine Coast lawyer, Peter has extensive knowledge of various facets of law.

He has practised in all areas of litigation and has special interests in:

  • Criminal law
  • Civil and Commercial litigation
  • Retirement Village matters
  • Sports law
  • Resumption of land and compensation claims


Peter has specialised knowledge of and experience with resumption matters as a result of the Traveston Dam project, road corridors, Main Roads and water pipeline. He is renowned for his professional approach and is an experienced and determined advocate.

Brent King


Brent works as a litigation lawyer, providing litigation legal advice in relation to both civil and criminal law matters, including:
  • Defamation Claims
  • Contract and Debt Disputes
  • Building and Construction Disputes
  • Planning Matters
  • Criminal Law and Traffic Legal Matters
Having grown up on the Sunshine Coast and joining Butler McDermott after the completion of his studies, Brent appreciates the needs of our clients, and brings a particularly commercial approach to litigation. Brent is a member of the Queensland Law Society and the Sunshine Coast Law Association, and has litigated a wide variety of matters in the Magistrates, District and Supreme Courts.

Al Upton


After arriving at Butler McDermott Lawyers in 2016, Al quickly progressed to running our Wills and Estates section and has successfully litigated disputes in the Supreme and District Courts of Queensland in the early stages of his career.

In the years that followed Al has now moved to assist our clients with commercial and property matters having achieved positive outcomes in that area as well as general litigation. Al’s experience has him uniquely placed to provide quality advice in the areas of property, commercial, wills and estates and general litigation.

Al is involved in giving back to the community, sitting on the board for the Daniel Morcombe Foundation and Sundale Community Foundation. He otherwise became a director of Butler McDermott Lawyers in November 2021.