Do I have to be divorced to split the property?
No. As soon as you have separated you can make arrangements to split your property and debts between you and your ex-partner, you do not have to wait until you are divorced. However, if you do get divorced you only have 12 months from the date of your divorce to commence a claim on property. Strict time limits apply.
If you are married but separated, time limits do not commence until you are divorced. However, we recommend having property settlements dealt with as soon as possible.
If you are in a de-facto relationship, then you only have 2 years from the date of separation to commence a claim on property. Strict time limits apply.
Do we have to go to Court?
No, not at all. If you have already agreed on how things should be divided between you, your lawyer can draw up the document which will finalise the arrangements, and then get underway the legal processes which will split the assets.
What if we can’t agree?
There is an established process in cases where there is disagreement over how property should be split. Firstly, the court needs to be satisfied that you have attempted to reach an agreement, and to this end, you will be ordered to participate in dispute resolution.
If this doesn’t resolve the matter, then an application for property orders must be filed with the Family Court or Federal Magistrates Court. This application must be made within 12 months of your divorce becoming final or within 2 years of separation if you were in a de-facto relationship.
The matter will be set down for hearing and a legally binding decision will be made by the court.
How does the court decide?
Firstly the court will calculate the total assets owned by both parties, including property, superannuation, shares, cars, jewellery, savings, furniture etc. This includes things you brought into the relationship, those acquired during the relationship and also those purchased after separation.
Next, the court will weigh up the contributions from both parties, including financial, non-financial, inheritances and assets brought into the relationship.
Then the court will look at the future needs of both parties, including factors such as your capacity to earn money and your parental responsibilities.
Lastly, the court will make a decision based on what is just and equitable to both parties.
We can help
Dealing with the complexities of property settlement is stressful but the consequences of not doing it properly can impact on the rest of your life. We are experienced negotiators and will make sure that you get the best possible outcome.
Contact us to discuss your particular situation with an experienced family lawyer.