In the second stage of the divorce process, Ancillary Matters Hearings address issues such as child custody, control, and access, child and spousal maintenance, the division of the marital home and other matrimonial assets.
In this article you will be guided through the stages of an ancillary hearing, from obtaining an interim judgment up until the final judgment.
At the end of the first stage of the divorce, an interim judgment for the divorce is granted. The court will then fix a date for an Ancillary Matters Pre-Trial Conference (“APTC”).
The APTC is a prelude to hearings for a determination of the ancillary matters.
What are Matrimonial Assets?
They include assets acquired by one or both parties during the marriage, assets used by one or both parties or their children, or even assets acquired before the marriage but substantially improved in quality during the marriage.
Assets received as gifts or inheritance, are generally not considered as matrimonial assets unless they have been substantially improved by the other party.
The first notice from the Family Court will also provide you with directions to file the FORM 35 i.e. Affidavit of Assets and Means (referred to as the 1st AOM).
Read more: Gifts In The Division Of Matrimonial Assets
Ancillary Matters Pre-Trial Conference
The FIRST APTC is conducted by a Deputy Registrar. It is attended in chambers; meaning that the hearing is closed to the public and only the divorce lawyers attend the hearing.
The judge will ask if parties have filed and exchanged their 1st AOM. The judge will also direct parties to exchange proposals and consider if the matter come be dealt with at mediation. If yes, a date will be set for parties to attend Mediation with their lawyers.
Rad more: Existing Litigation vs Ancillary Matters
If mediation is successful, the terms of settlement will be recorded and thereafter the order of court will be extracted. The Final Judgment shall be extracted after 3mths of Interim Judgment.
If mediation fails and there is no settlement, parties return for a SECOND APTC and they will be directed to file and exchange their 2nd AOM.
A THIRD APTC is held and a status updated is given to the court. Directions are further given. Parties can have a final say and they can file and exchange their 3rd AOM.
During the interim period of the exchange of the Affidavits, parties can take out summons application on interrogatories; discovery; and even to the extent to expunge the other party’s affidavits i.e. on parts that are offending.
Once there are no more summons applications or AOMs filed, at the FINAL APTC, the judge will direct parties to file their Ancillary Matters Facts and Position Sheet, Checklist and Declaration of Assets.
At the FINAL APTC, the Ancillary Matters hearing date will be given with directions for parties to file their written submissions to the Court ahead of the hearing.
Ancillary Matters Hearing
During the ancillary matters hearing, the court will consider various factors to achieve a fair result whilst dividing contested assets.
- The extent of financial contributions towards these assets
- The extent of non-financial contributions towards the welfare of the family
- The giving of assistance by one which allows the other party to pursue his or her career
- Debt owed for joint benefit, individual benefit, or the child’s benefit
- The needs of the child
- Any pre-nuptial / marital agreements towards the divisions of assets
- The financial independence of each party after divorce
- The needs of each party after divorce
When the Ancillary Matters order is passed, you will have 14 days to lodge an appeal in the event you are dissatisfied with the judgment.
If you are not appealing, then the Final Judgment can be extracted as by then, 3 months would have lapsed.
We’re here for you
Your free 30-minute consultation with our family lawyers will include advice on:
- Laws applicable to your situation;
- Options available if you decide to take matters forward; and
- Estimated costs involved in your matter.