20 Jan Property Settlements – What, When and How?
How your assets and liabilities are divided following the breakdown of a relationship can be confronting. It is important to understand the basic principles which are applied to property settlement matters under the Family Law Act.
The four steps to be taken into consideration are as follows:
- Identifying the current assets, liabilities and financial resources held jointly or solely by either party.
- Identifying contributions. This includes financial and non-financial contributions such as income, domestic chores, the care and supervision of children, renovation work, inheritances and lotto wins.
- Future needs factors; for example, if one party suffers from a serious illness or a disability, or one party has the primary care of the children of the relationship.
- Whether it is just and equitable to make an adjustment of property interests. In most cases and particularly where property is held in joint names, an adjustment of property interests must occur in order to severe the financial relationship between the parties.
The Family Court expects parties to make a genuine attempt to settle their matter before commencing proceedings by either negotiating through solicitors or by participating in mediation. It is advisable to avoid Court proceedings wherever possible except in circumstances where family violence is a factor or when there is a risk that the values of assets are being depleted or when negotiations fail.
It is necessary to commence proceedings for property Orders either twelve months from the date of divorce in the case of parties who are married or two years following the breakdown of a de facto relationship.
It is the experience of most family law solicitors that most property matters settle without involving the Court.
Of course all families are unique and if you have any questions regarding your Property Settlement you should seek independent legal advice regarding the facts that are relevant in your matter.