Whether you are ending a de facto relationship or a marriage, the Family Law Act provides for a “just and equitable” division of the assets and liabilities that belong to both you and your former partner.
The law in respect of property settlements as it relates to married couples, is wholly mirrored in the legislation as it relates to de facto relationships.
So that we can advise you as to what you are likely entitled to in your property settlement, we will ask you to turn your mind to some key questions, such as:
→ What assets, liabilities and superannuation are currently in your name and possession?
→ What assets, liabilities and superannuation are currently in your former partner’s name and possession? (if you are unaware of these, or there are some gaps in your knowledge, there are steps that can be taken to rectify this issue)
→ What assets and liabilities are held by you and your former partner jointly?
→ Who contributed what during the relationship? This will include financial contributions, non-financial contributions and contributions as homemaker and parent.
→ Did either you or your former partner bring any significant assets to your relationship at its commencement?
→ What was the length of your relationship?
→ Did either party receive any lump sum payments during the relationship, such as inheritances or redundancy payouts?
→ Do either you or your former partner have any health issues that might impact your capacity to work in future?
→ What is your and your former partner’s expectations as to your respective income earning capacity moving forward?
→ If you have children under 18 years of age, who has majority care of them?
We can use the answers to these questions to advise you of what percentage division of the net asset pool you might expect going through the property settlement process (this advice is usually provided as a range of percentages). We can then work with you to determine how each asset and liability might be allocated to give effect to that percentage division and ensure that the final allocation is just and equitable.
Once you have worked through this process with us, you will have a clear idea of what expect from your property settlement and what your goals are in this regard. We can then commence negotiating with your former partner or your former partner’s lawyer to reach an agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, arbitration or the Court process is available to you.
If you are ending a relationship and think you need to give effect to a property settlement, it is important to note that there are time limits that apply. If you have been in a de facto relationship, you need to have achieved property settlement by agreement or have initiated proceedings in the Court for property settlement orders within two years of the date of separation. If you are or have been married, you have twelve months from the date of your divorce.
If you wish to learn more about the property settlement process and how it relates to you, we encourage you to reach out to discuss your circumstances with us.