There are issues that can arise after a couple separate, concerning how their property or other assets will be divided. These issues can cause couples to quarrel, especially because monies and properties are involved, and people do not want to share what they believe is theirs.
What happens to our property after we separate?
When couples separate, they will usually need to sort out how to divide their assets (property) and debts. There are various ways this can be done:
- you and your spouse or de facto partner can agree on how your property should be divided without any court involvement.
If you and your spouse or partner reach an agreement, you can formalize the agreement by applying for consent orders in Court and Fourtree Lawyers can assist you with this.
- If you and your spouse or partner cannot reach an agreement, Fourtree Lawyers can assist you with applying to Court for financial orders, including orders relating to the division of property and payment of spouse or de facto partner maintenance.
Are there any laws about dividing property?
The Family Law Act regulates how property should be divided between couples who are or have been married; and between couples who were in a de facto relationship.
If you are in a same-sex relationship, you are seen as being in a de facto relationship for purposes of property settlement under the Family Law Act.
How do you work out what is fair?
When you apply for a property settlement, the Court determines the application by way of a “4-step” process.
Step 1 – Identifying and valuing the assets, liabilities and financial resources of the parties
This first step involves identifying and valuing the assets, liabilities and financial resources of the parties. This includes all assets, liabilities and financial resources acquired before the marriage or relationship started during the marriage or relationship and after separation.
Step 2 – Assessment of the contributions made by the parties
The second step involves the assessing the contributions made by the parties during their relationship. These include:
- direct and indirect financial contributions to the property of the parties; and
- contributions to the welfare of the family including contributions in the capacity of homemaker or parent.
Step 3 – Assessing the future needs of each of the parties
The third step involves an assessment of the future needs of each of the parties. The Court must consider such things as:
- the age and state of health of each of the parties;
- the income, property and financial resources of each of the parties and their ability to work;
- who has the care of any child of the relationship under the age of 18 years;
- commitments necessary to enable a party to support himself or herself including any other person that the party has a duty to maintain;
- the suitability of either party for a pension superannuation;
- the standard of living that is reasonable in the circumstances;
- the extent to which the earning capacity of a party has been affected by the relationship; and,
- if either party is living with somebody else, the financial circumstances of their household.
When the Court considers these factors it will then decide whether there should be an adjustment in favor of one or other of the parties to compensate for any difference in their future circumstances.
Step 4 – Is the proposed division of property fair to both parties?
After assessing steps 1- 3, the Court must then decide whether the proposed division of the assets is fair to each of the parties. This assessment is done by examining the full circumstances of each case.
When should I start my property settlement?
It depends on whether you are married or in a de facto relationship.
- If you are a married couple, you must commence proceedings within 12 months after your divorce order is granted;
- If you are a de facto couple, you must commence proceedings within 2 years after the date your relationship ended.
If you do not apply within these time limits, you will need special permission of the Court to commence legal proceedings; but this is not always granted.
Why Fourtree Lawyers?
At Fourtree Lawyers, we have skilled lawyers in all aspects of family law who are able to assist you with your property settlement dispute, no matter what stage your matter is at.
Whether it be providing advice to you on your options, assisting you in negotiations with your spouse or ex-partner, or representing you in Court, Fourtree Lawyers aims to ensure that you obtain your rightful property entitlements.
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My partner and I will always be thankful that we chose Fourtree Lawyers. Kevin represented us throughout a Children’s Court case. He showed nothing less than a professional outlook on the case, yet also was very compassionate. Without the help of Kevin, we wouldn’t of had the best possible outcome. We will forever be appreciative of what Kevin has done for our family. Affordable prices with great results. If we ever need legal advice, or representation, our first call will be Fourtree lawyers.
I just wanted to say thank you for all of the help and support you have given me throughout my family law settlement. It was the worst year of my life, but you helped me feel confident that it was all going to work out OK in the end. You calmed down the heated negotiations and managed to get a fair outcome without going to court. The kids are all happy and settled in a safe new environment, and I can get on with my new future.
After three long years, my international family law matter was going nowhere, despite spending tens of thousands of dollars with an overseas law firm. I engaged Kevin Vierboom from Fourtree Lawyers to help me in bringing this nightmare to an end when it became apparent I was going to lose my job. He reviewed my case, distilled the issues and escalated the negotiations. I am very relieved to say that it’s finally over.