Over the years of a relationship you can accumulate a lot of stuff. Dividing up the property can be a complex issue. Even if you are splitting up amicably, it’s worthwhile doing it legally, as if you don’t do it according to the Family Law Act, you can be in for a nasty surprise down the track.
What is “property”?
From the point of view of the Family Law, Property means virtually everything… cash , houses, family business, trusts, investments, superannuation, lottery winnings, gifts and in some circumstances inheritances.
It also includes money you owe and any other liabilities. It even includes entitlements to redundancies, or long service leave.
The rule when it comes to what constitutes Property in a family law sense is this:
What’s yours is ours, what’s mine is ours, and what’s ours is ours.
It is about what you have both contributed. The roles you had during the relationship and who has made what contributions are all factors to be considered. You will not receive less simply because you brought in fewer dollars or because you were the homemaker
What each of you is likely to need in the future will also be taken into account.
Tips about property issues
Don’t try and spend money or destroy property to minimise what your ex will get. This is likely to back fire and may be deducted from the property you will get in the final distribution.
Don’t think you can remove property from a distribution by giving it to another person. The court can see through these tricks and may add it back into the distribution or even reverse the decision.
Get financial advice about how realistic your proposals are. You may want to keep the family home, but may not have enough to pay the mortgage, but if you pay off the mortgage, how much money will you have left to live on.
You may be able to negotiate with your ex to stay in the house now and sell it when the youngest child turns 18. You may have to reduce the amount of your final profit when you sell to offset your use of the property.
Settle sooner rather than later. Compromise early. Often settling for less is far better than having your assets frittered away with legal fees and court costs.
Get a lawyer, or your family mediator to draw up Consent Orders of a Financial agreement, to ensure they are legal… but don’t let lawyers start any litigation process without telling you the likely costs.
During our family mediation process, we draft up your agreement so this can be submitted to the Family Court to ensure your property division is legally binding ensuring you can both move on, quickly and with certainty.