Separation, often as a prelude to divorce, may raise many questions for couples, whether they’re married or in a de facto relationship. The true value of legal advice from solicitors specialising in divorce and separation cannot be underestimated.
When married or de facto couples separate they will be faced with a number of decisions, including how to divide assets and debts. There are a number of ways in which this can be done:
- The couple can agree on the division of property without the involvement of the courts;
- The couple can agree on the division of property and involve the courts to formalise the agreement; or
- If the couples are unable to reach consensus, an application can be made to court for a financial order.
What property can be included in a settlement agreement:
Property may be anything of value and settlements are not limited to property only acquired during the relationship. Settlement agreements may include property, jewellery, vehicles, business interests, superannuation, inheritance, etc.
Will the property be split 50/50?
Consideration must be given to both property and liabilities (e.g. loans and tax), regardless of whether these were held individually or jointly by the couple. The courts will consider these on merit and apply just means when considering property settlements. The court is not required to split property 50/50; it will take a number of factors into consideration, including contributions made by both parties during the relationship, and the future financial needs of each partner after the separation. Typically, due consideration is given to the contribution of taking care of the family, deemed just as important as any financial contributions.
Benefits of seeking legal advice:
A settlement lawyer is best placed to assist you in formalising any settlement agreement, whether you require the involvement of the courts or not. It may be hard to asses the value of your property and the most equitable way to split it as this requires a deep understanding and knowledge of settlement law.
Complications will always arise when conflicting interests are presented but with clear and concise communication from a solicitor specialising in divorce, you’ll have the answers you need quickly and in great detail.
Although there are numerous resources available to separating couples to assist with making decisions around property settlement without the assistance of the courts, it may still be important to seek the advice and guidance of an experienced settlement lawyer to prepare your property settlement. Approach East Coast Family Lawyers for advice and guidance on the best options for you.