Property settlement arrangements when separating

Date: Apr 23, 2013

Separation is rarely easy. The breakdown of a marriage is often accompanied by stress, financial obligations and other emotionally and physically taxing elements.

One of the first issues likely to crop up after separation is property division. That is, how the assets and liabilities of the relationship will be divided between the parties. 

If you and your former spouse or de-facto partner are happy to agree on how assets are split, property settlement arrangements can be fairly simple. In instances where there is no dispute regarding property, couples who have split can avoid court involvement and instead formalise this through an application for consent orders via the Family Court or a binding financial agreement.

Although it is still recommended to seek out independent legal advice from an experienced family lawyer who can explain all of the details and options available.

Property settlement arrangements can be made at any time after partners have separated and before an application for divorce is made. However, it is important to remember that court applications for property settlement must be filed within one year of the divorce - otherwise you will be required to seek permission from the court for 'out of time' applications.

Applying to a court for orders

Unfortunately, not every separation is amicable - and you may find yourself in a situation where you cannot agree on a fair division of assets. In these circumstances, you can apply to the court for orders that will decide these matters.

It is important to remember that 95 per cent of Family Court matters are resolved before a Final Hearing, either through mediation, or negotiation through your solicitor. This again highlights the need for quality family law advice at the earliest stage possible. Your family law solicitor will guide you every step of the way, seeking the best possible resolution.

A divorce law firm can help in a number of ways with meeting this obligation, including offering services in mediation, conciliation and arbitration.

Applications can be made to either the Federal Circuit Court or the Family Court of Australia - with the former usually involved in the simpler cases and the latter dealing with more complex divorce financial settlements.