It can be a tricky process to navigate property settlement after separation.

Here are some hints about what you need to know regarding property settlement after separation.

What Is A Property Settlement?

A property settlement is an agreement setting out how a couple’s assets and liabilities are to be divided during or after a divorce or separation. Two of the ways the settlement can be reached.

  • by the partners reaching a mutual agreement on their own or at family mediation, which can be submitted to the Court for a Consent Order.
  • by an order of the Family Court after application by one of the parties.

Do All Separating Couples Need To Reach A Property Settlement?

Yes, absolutely. When a relationship ends it’s wise to cut all ties with your ex-partner to avoid them making claims in the future or to extricate yourself from potential liabilities.

When Can You Decide On Your Property Settlement?

The sooner you can decide on your property settlement, the better. You can reach your property settlement at any time as long as you have not been divorced for more than 12 months.

It’s best to enter into discussions with your partner as soon as you have decided to separate, because the values of your assets are calculated at the time of your settlement, not the date of separation. If you postpone that for a later date, assets accumulated after separation will be included in the asset pool to be divided.

What Counts As Property?

All assets and liabilities – individually or jointly owned by both parties – count as property and that includes superannuation entitlements.

Assets include fixed property, the family home, bank accounts, cash on hand, vehicles, business interests, investments, insurance policies, household goods and superannuation.

Liabilities include mortgage and private loans and all debt including credit card, regardless in whose names they are registered.

Is Everything Split 50/50 After Separation?

The quick answer is no. Each relationship has its own unique circumstances, the law allows couples to decide for themselves on how to divide their assets to suit their situation (within reason).

Australian Family Law does however, require the division of property to be just and equitable. If the couple cannot decide for themselves, a final decision will be made by the Court. Factors taken into consideration include:

  • Length of relationship.
  • Individual financial contributions.
  • Non-financial contributions (keeping or renovating a home, raising children, etc)
  • Whether one parent will care for any children.
  • Both parties’ age and health.
  • Both parties future needs and earning capacity.

Are There Time Limits To Reach A Property Settlement?

Yes. If you’re married, you have 12 months from the date your divorce is finalised to apply for a property settlement. De facto partners must apply within 24 months from the date of separation.

Using Family Mediation To Reach A Property Settlement

Seeking legal advice to negotiate a property settlement is strongly recommended in all divorces and separations. Unfortunately, that may not always be the most cost-effective way, especially in high value complex situations.

Using family mediation is by far the quickest, most effective, least costly and least stressful way of separating in Australia. It is also mandatory if children under the age of 18 years involved.  As opposed to litigation where each party hire their own lawyers, in mediation the costs of a mediator can be shared by the two parties.

Mediators do not take sides, remaining neutral throughout the process and are not interested in fault, but focus only on resolving disputes and reach a settlement. They inform both parties of their legal rights and obligations enabling both parties to find their own solutions that are workable, thus avoiding conflict and reducing the level of stress for the whole family. 

To get started on your property settlement after separation, speak to our accredited family mediator in Perth today about using family mediation to reach an amicable agreement with your ex.