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Methods of splitting property

What happens if both parties cannot agree on a settlement?

Property Settlement

 
 
 

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Property settlement refers to the division of assets and liabilities after your marital relationship or defacto relationship has broken down. There are three legal ways to achieve the above division:

  1. Litigation in the Family Law Court

  2. Binding Financial Agreement 

  3. Application for Consent Orders (non-litigious).

What is a property settlement?

What is property?

Property is anything of value acquired before, during and after separation. This includes but is not limited to shares, superannuation, cars, trusts interests, home, jewellery, money, pets, home contents, inheritance, business among others

What are liabilities?

Liabilities owned jointly or individually are also divided between the parties and they include credit card debts, debts, loans, income tax, capital gain tax and stamp duty obligations.

Related Family Law Services

Binding Financial Agreement (BFA)

If both parties have agreed to the property split such agreement can be recorded in a BFA.  A BFA is a contract entered by both parties which sets out the terms as to how property and liabilities are to be divided. The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) dictates laws which allow parties to enter into such agreements before, during and after a relationship. Agreements entered into prior to the relationship are known as prenuptial agreements. 

 

If both parties agree to enter a BFA, they need to firstly engage into financial disclosure. A BFA is only legally enforceable once both parties receive independent legal and financial advice to ensure the parties understand all the terms prescribed in the agreement. If this does not occur, the court may set aside the agreement with devastating outcomes. 

 

Consent orders

Your former partner and you can apply for consent orders if you both agree on a property settlement. A written agreement is prepared and filed with the Court for its approval. Once you sign the agreement you are expressly agreeing to the terms prescribed. Once the court approves of the orders sought by both parties, it is legally enforceable. You may be abstained from appearing to court when consent orders are applied for.

 

In the event parties cannot agree to a settlement, the parties may seek to have the matter litigated in court. This will require one party to file an initiating application, a financial statement and an affidavit with the court whilst the other will file a response to Initiating Application, financial statement and a response affidavit.

The court will take into account what is fair and reasonable prior to altering the parties’ interest. The court will identify direct and indirect financial and non-financial contributions made by or on behalf of each party. The court will also look at the future needs of each party to assess whether an amendment should be made to the percentage-based entitlement. Finally, the court needs to be satisfied that the result is just and equitable in all circumstances.

 

Applicable time limits

A defacto couple has two years from the time of separation to make a claim for property settlement. A married couple has 12 months from the time their divorce is finalized to make property settlement. An extension of time can be applied for but you will have to show exceptional circumstances.  It is important to note that it is rare for an extension to be granted by the courts.

 

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If any of the above has resonated with you we encourage you to reach out to our experienced Narre Warren Family Lawyers today for a confidential conversation. We may be reached by the above 'contact us' box or alternatively please call us on (03) 9117 6189.