House-SplitIt is often the case that during or after a separation, parties wish to divide their assets accumulated during their relationship. At Ramsden Lawyers, our family lawyers can help you achieve this in a number of ways.

If parties are able to come to an agreement on how they wish to settle their property issues and divide their assets, we can assist in formalising this agreement in a time and cost effective manner. The two main ways of ensuring your property settlement agreement is legally finalized is either through a Financial Agreement (FA) or a consent order through the court. In the case parties are unable to reach an agreement on the division of property; parties will need to commence proceedings in the court for determination.

Once the court is satisfied that a property adjustment would be just and equitable the court follows a four step process:

Step One

Identify and value the net property pool for division. In other words, compile a list all of the parties’ assets, add up their total value and deduct all of the parties’ liabilities. This can include the process of financial disclosure and seeking independent expert valuations.

Step Two

The court will consider the contributions each of the parties has made toward accumulating the property pool as established in Step One. The contributions that the court will consider are those set out in Section 79(4) of the Family Law Act.

Contributions can come in many forms, both financial and non-financial during a relationship.

Common financial contributions:

  • income used on things such as the mortgage, rent, utilities and other expenses.

Common non-financial contributions:

  • homemaking
  • parenting
  • cooking and cleaning

Other forms of contributions:

  • bringing in savings, a business or property owned prior to the relationship;
  • family members or friends assisting in improving the value of a property
  • gifts and inheritances;
  • windfalls;
  • lottery winnings;
  • damages awards;
  • personal Injury awards;
  • redundancy payments; and or
  • long service leave.

Negative contributions can also be taken into consideration, for example:

  • wastage, such as gambling and substance addictions;
  • deliberate reduction of assets; and or
  • reckless, negligent or wanton behaviour

In the case the contributions are in a form that are less common to the norm, such as a lottery winning or a personal injury award, our expert family lawyers will be able to advise how this will be interpreted by the court.

During this step, other factors are considered such as the term of the relationship, with short term and long term relationships often resulting in different outcomes, however every case is determined on their personal circumstances.

Step Three

This is often identified as the ‘future needs’ step which requires the court to consider whether there are any other relevant factors that would give rise to an adjustment in one or other parties’ favour. The factors that the court will consider are set out in Section 75(2) of the Family Law Act and include:

  • the age of each party;
  • the health of each party;
  • the income (and earning capacity) of each party;
  • whether one party has significantly more care of the child (or anyone else) than the other;
  • the amount of child support being paid; and
  • financial resources

Step Four

The final step the court will consider all of the facts and circumstances of the case together and consider whether the outcome they have reached is just and equitable. The court has the liberty to make an adjustment within their range of discretion to ensure a fair outcome.

If you are looking at dividing your assets and require more information please contact our office today and one of our family lawyers will be able to advise you on your options and recommend the process best suited to your needs.

Levels 5 (Main office) and 9 (Property group)
Corporate Centre One, 2 Corporate Court
Bundall , QLD, 4217 Australia
Phone: (07) 5592 1921

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