Approaching Property Settlement After a Marriage or De Facto Relationship

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Confused about property settlement following the breakdown of your marriage/de facto relationship? Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson answers some frequently asked questions.

What steps are involved in a property settlement?

If there is no agreement, the Family Law Act uses a 4 step process. First, a couple’s net asset pool is determined. Second, there is an assessment of each party’s contributions to the assets, including financial and non-financial (such as homemaking and parenting). Third, an adjustment occurs (if necessary) based on future need factors including for example, income-earning capacity and responsibility for caring for children. Lastly, there is an overarching consideration that usually the Court will not make Orders (by consent or otherwise) unless they are just and equitable.

What if I owned assets outright when I started my relationship?

Assets owned by a party at the start of a relationship or which they contributed during the relationship (such as an inheritance) may be taken into account when determining how assets should be divided. The extent to which this is the case will depend on the length of the marriage and what proportion the assets are in relation to the total asset pool.

What about superannuation?

Under the Family Law Act, superannuation is an asset and the Court can make superannuation splitting orders. However, given the nature of superannuation, it may be treated different to other assets.