Attending to divorce financial settlements

Date: Mar 27, 2013

Attending to divorce financial settlements is an unfortunate result of any separation, but being prepared and knowledgeable can ensure the process is fair and goes as smoothly as possible.

A skilled and experienced divorce lawyer can help guide you through the division of property and finances following a break-up, abling you to make a clean split and provide the basis for each party to move forward positively, and amicably.

The division of assets can occur immediately upon separation. Once a divorce has been granted each party has 12 months from the date of that divorce in which to make a claim regarding their property settlement – meaning parties must either make an agreement with their former partner in the form of Consent Orders or a Binding Financial Agreement, or seek orders from the courts in instances where a settlement cannot be agreed.

De-facto relationships

If you were in an eligible de-facto relationship then you are still covered by Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court orders. Previously, financial matters between de-facto partners was usually only dealt with by state and territory courts, which applied legalities applicable in those particular regions.

People considering an application to the Family Court or Federal Magistrates Court for financial orders following the end of a de-facto relationship may want to contact a family lawyer to take them through the De Facto Property Regime, which brings this type of living arrangement under the Family Law Act 1975.

The Family Law Act

When deciding on separation financial matters, courts refer to the Family Law Act to evaluate the case – with the general principles between marriages and de-facto relationships largely the same.

There will be a number of factors courts consider when separating assets, including:

·         Calculating what each party owns, taking into account any debts or other financial obligations
·         Consideration of direct financial contributions to the marriage or de-facto relationship by each party, such as salary earnings
·         Indirect financial contributions, which may include inheritance or family gifts
·         Future financial needs of the individuals, taking into account factors such as age, resources, health, childcare obligations and earning capacity
·         Examination of non-financial contributions during the marriage - such as homemaking and childcare
·         Determine whether any proposes agreement is ‘fair and equitable' to the parties.

What can I expect?

Every separation will be judged on a case-by-case basis and will depend on individual family circumstances - meaning it can be difficult to gauge the outcome based on other people's experiences.

However, a specialist family lawyer will be able to provide help and advice on proceedings, so that you are adequately prepared for the final decision.