Are You Worried About Leaving Your Marriage or Relationship?
Separation can be a very difficult time, and a separating couple – whether married or de facto – will often have significant disagreements about how their assets and liabilities should be divided, and what parenting arrangements are best for their children.
Separation in Australia
In Australia, there is not a set formula used to divide your property, and Judges in Court usually make their rulings on a case-by-case basis depending on each set of unique circumstances, and what the Judge deems to be just and equitable in each particular case.
That is why it is important that wherever possible, couples in the process of separating – or who have already separated – to take legal advice from a qualified and experienced Family Law solicitor about their own personal circumstances, and what a just and equitable property division will be for them.
De Facto Couples
In fact, sometimes the question needs to be asked – for de facto couples – if they are obliged to enter into any property settlement negotiations or litigation at all!
However, as a general starting point – family law clients who need to negotiate – or litigate – a family law property division, need to be aware that the Family Law Act 1975 determines how property is to be divided in the event of a relationship breakdown.
The Court (and therefore couples negotiating a settlement outside of Court) are concerned in achieving a “just and equitable” property division.
In order to reach that conclusion, the Court – or parties negotiating a settlement – look at:
The assets and debts of the relationship – plus the values of these;
The direct financial contributions of each party to the accumulation of the assets and liabilities – including yearly incomes;
The indirect financial contributions of each party to the accumulation of the assets and liabilities – such as inheritances and gifts;
The non-financial contributions of each party to the welfare of the family as a whole – such as caring for children and homemaking; and
Any future financial needs each of the parties may have – including the age of the parties, how healthy they are, their financial resources, their ability to earn an income, and who will be responsible for the care of the children of the relationship in the future.
All of the above points will differ in each relationship – and therefore the outcome of your dispute will differ to other cases – even where on the surface the families seem quite similar.
Important Dates to Remember
The breakdown of a relationship is often a tumultuous time, during which you might not want to think about what might or might not happen in terms of dividing your assets.
However, there are certain dates that need to be adhered to when lodging an Application in the Court for a property settlement.
For married couples, any property settlement Application must be
made within 12 months of finalising their divorce. This means that once parties divorce, the clock starts ticking on them bringing an Application before the Court for a property settlement.
Parties to a de facto relationship, however, will have up to two years after the end of the relationship to apply for a property adjustment. Given that it takes at least a year after separation for married couples to get divorced, the intention of the two-year limit on de facto couples bringing property Applications before the Court is to bring the timeframes for de facto couples into line with that of formerly married couples.
If – for whatever reason – the parties miss their timeframe for bringing an Application to the Court – a party may still be granted permission from the Court to apply “out-of-time”, provided certain conditions are met.
Unfortunately, relationship disputes can get messy, however, with the assistance of a family law lawyer in Melbourne, the process can become faster, less stressful, and more certain.
At Argent Law, our aim is to help you move through the process of your relationship breakdown as easily and peacefully as possible.
Our experienced Family Lawyers – Stephanie Hope, and Director Melissa Patterson – are both highly experienced in all aspects of negotiating Parenting and Property dispute settlements – as well as taking matters to Court and conducting litigation from beginning to end if necessary.
To learn more about what will happen to your assets if you and your partner separate, contact Stephanie or Melissa and our team of Family Law lawyers today!