If you and your spouse’s relationship comes to an end , it is not uncommon that the issues over which there will be huge conflict is to do with money / property.
After sharing a life together, including a house, cars and other property, who gets what?
The probability of dispute over this question is not helped by some popular but misleading ideas that when a relationship breaks down, one party is “cleaned out” and “loses everything”. The other incorrect idea is that the split of property and assets between former partners will automatically be 50:50.
In fact the Australian legal system has developed a fairly rigorous method for working out the best settlement of property when a relationship ends, based on the idea of it being “fair and equitable” to both parties, and recognising that both partners contributed significantly to most things that were shared in the relationship.
Speaking with a legal professional with extensive experience in family property settlements is a wise thing to do as they understand the law and will help you protect your interests when it comes to dividing up property accumulated during the relationship.
How are property settlements worked out then?
Firstly, what sort of things can be part of a property settlement after separation? They include but are not limited to: cash; property, such as the family home and any investment properties; inheritances; shares; business interests; superannuation; other assets such as cars, artworks, and furniture.
A number of steps are then worked through to come up with a fair and equitable division of assets in a settlement.
Step 1: The value of each asset or interest needs to be identified, including any debt attached to each of them. This process will result in knowing the net value of the property pool (sometimes referred to as the ‘asset pool’).
Step 2: Next it needs to be worked out what each of you contributed to the relationship. This will include:
- financial and non-financial contributions at all stages of the relationship, including parenting and homemaking contributions;
- any gifts, inheritances, financial assistance or support from other family members.
Step 3: What are the future needs of each of you, and your children? To work this out, a court will look at a number of factors including but not limited to: the length of the relationship; the age and state of health of each party; the income and financial resources of each party; the physical and mental capacity of each party for future employment; the care and needs of any children; eligibility for any benefits or superannuation; child support payments; any other factors relevant to ensuring a fair and equitable division of property.
Step 4: After considering the information gleaned from steps 1-3, the final determination is whether the division of property is just and equitable. This means whether it is realistic, achievable and just, for both you and your former partner.
The importance of advice
Achieving what you are entitled to in a property settlement after separation is best done by seeking the guidance of one of our experienced Sydney family lawyers. They can help you organise your affairs so that you present a persuasive picture when it comes to the steps listed above.
You also need to need to make sure you divide your property legally. You might divide property by informal agreement, but if you don’t do this according to the Family Law Act and your former partner wants another slice of the property, you could end up having to divide the property even in circumstances that seem very unfair.
Get in touch with our experienced Sydney lawyers to discuss your property settlement today.
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Family Law Articles
Marital separation (including divorce) and de facto separation is an unfortunate reality of the world that we live in. While some manage to navigate the emotional minefield with minimal anguish, most end up embroiled in bitter legal proceedings. While financial concerns are often of great importance when separating, far more important are matters of the heart: children. When making arrangements for children in a divorce, the Court will place the greatest amount of importance on the “best interests” of the child. But do those best interests include the child’s own wishes?