Unfortunately, most cases of divorce are not as simple as terminating a contract and moving to another home without your soon-to-be-ex-partner. There are matters you’ll need to take care of regarding the separation of your joint and shared assets. This is where property settlement is concerned.

So, what is a property settlement in a divorce?

Contrary to what it sounds like, property settlement is not just the arrangement of ‘who gets the home’. Throughout a relationship and marriage, couples will tend to accumulate joint assets, debts and liabilities. This can include any of the following.

  • Joint financial accounts such as savings or credit card accounts
  • Vehicles owned
  • Share accounts and any shared investments
  • Businesses
  • Credit card debts
  • Loans whether they are personal or business
  • Mortgages (the obvious)

Please note that superannuation is considered a different type of property and has its own dedicated process, you can ask your legal professional about this for more information.

The property settlement process allows you and your former partner to legally determine how you will be dividing any of the above assets and liabilities.

What if I am seeking a property settlement from a former de-facto partner?

Property settlement is not a process specific to divorce. If you are separating from a de facto partner and share any of the above types of assets or debts, then it’s in your best interests to undergo a property settlement process as you will still need to arrange how you divide these.

Although the principle is the same regardless of your marital or de-facto status, there are some terms that may differ slightly. An example of this is the deadlines for property adjustment applications.

Make sure to seek legal counsel to clarify the conditions that apply to your circumstances.

Are assets always split 50/50 in a divorce?

This is a common question but the answer is an easy no. How your property is divided in a divorce depends on numerous factors regarding you and your partner’s situation. While in some cases an equal 50/50 may be the goal for both parties, it is not always the most appropriate solution and there are no regulations or law that set this as a standard or starting point. The ‘50 50 split rule in family law’ is purely a myth.

How are assets divided in a divorce in Australia then?

In the Australian Family Court, the factors that are taken into consideration when a decision is made regarding the division of assets in a divorce, include the following.

1. Identify all property of the parties and gain a valuation
2. Assess the financial contributions of each party to the marriage
3. Considering non-financial contributions of each party i.e caring for children or homemaking.
4. Identify the future needs and requirements of each party
5. Determine what a just and equitable division would be

As you can see, this is a very personal process that can vary significantly in each case. Overall, decisions made are based on understanding your shared property pool and considering the contributions and requirement of each party. Accurate information and honesty with your family law professional are very important for gaining the most just results.

How long does a divorce property settlement take?

Like many of the above questions, this answer is also variable. Experiencing issues with your application process will probably delay you, as will any inaccurate information in regards to your assets, debts and contributions.

Time limits apply for your property adjustment application. If you take too long to submit your application you may lose your chance to pursue property adjustment. This is 12 months after the divorce is finalised or 2 years after the breakdown of a de facto relationship. Special permissions for extensions can be applied for but they are are not always granted.

At all costs, avoid lengthy negotiations with your partner. If it seems that you’re going in circles trying to come up with mutually agreeable solutions, it may be better to avoid having these conversations between yourselves alone and instead, communicate in the presence of, or solely via your lawyers. Get your information prepared as early as possible so your application can be submitted as early as possible.

Finding The Right Legal Help For Property Settlement | Pentana Stanton

At Pentana Stanton, our Melbourne legal experts specialise in Family Law. We empathise with our clients going through divorce and settlement processes and are compassionate and results-driven in our approach. Our team can communicate in a number of different community languages. Consult a family lawyer to avoid mistakes and delays and get more legal information. This way, your property settlement process can be done and dusted in a clear, equitable way.