Property Settlement – Factsheet
When a marriage or a de facto relationship breaks down, it is needed to divide the property held jointly by parties. This is done in a property settlement – a final resolution of the ownership of the said property. Family law property settlement enables each party to divide up their assets and then retain those assets as their own property absolutely.
If you want to know how much you will get exactly after a property settlement, you cannot google that, not even an estimate, for one simple reason: each situation is different, and the decision is made according to the individual facts and circumstances of the specific couple. There is no set mathematical formula either. There are guidelines and specific steps the courts need to follow, but bear in mind that the case of your friends, no matter how similar to yours, is never exactly the same, and thus cannot result in the same outcome.
Four Steps in Family Law Property Settlement
In order to obtain a property settlement, a four-step process needs to be followed.
- Determining Assets in the Relationship
All assets that parties have, no matter where they are situated in the world, must be identified, disclosed and values. Just because some asset is overseas, does not mean that it is legally excluded from the identification and valuation stage of a property settlement. In this stage, it is crucial that both parties are honest and provide full and frank disclosure of everything they own: both material items (house, cars, furniture, etc.) and superannuation need to be included in this step. These assets will then be given a monetary value.
- Contributions Made by Both Parties
When determining how to divide the asset pool that has been established in Step 1, the court will need to look at the contributions that were made by each party. Both those made upon entering the relationship and those made throughout the duration of the relationship will be looked into, financial and non-financial. Financial contributions involve inheritances, gifts or other large payments. Non-financial contributions relate to the overall running of the household, parenting contributions if there are children involved, etc.
- Future Needs of the Parties
The court will consider the future needs of both parties. According to the contributions (Step 2), the court will decide on the percentage of assets each party should get. But these percentages can be adjusted on the ground of the future needs. These needs relate to illness or health problems, differences in earning capacity (due to education, for example), who is caring for any children, if relevant, etc. The new percentage will then be applied to asset pool to determine what the parties are entitled to receive.
- Is the Agreement Just and Equitable?
Finally, it needs to be determined whether or not the result is fair for both parties. If it is, then the settlement procedure is completed. If it is not fair, then changes may need to be made. This will ensure that a fair outcome is reached for both parties.
“Better late than never” is not applicable for family law property settlement. It is recommended that you try to resolve this matter sooner rather than later after separation. This is because the law takes into account assets at the current rather than simply dividing assets that existed at separation. There may be changes in the future, so try and resolve property settlement as soon as possible.
Free Legal Advice on Property Settlement
If you are going through separation and are confused as to who gets what and why, or if you are unhappy with the court’s decision, let us assist. We at Withstand Lawyers are a team of certified legal professionals equipped with both theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to lead our clients to their desired outcome. We will ensure that you understand your exact circumstances and know where to go from there. As a welcome to our new clients, we will offer you first consultation free of charge!
Contact us today via phone at 1800 644 541, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send an online inquiry, and we’ll book an appointment with one of our family lawyers that can guide you through the property settlement process.