Relationship breakdown is often acrimonious, with property settlement a contentious issue. The Family Law Act sets out a process for the division of assets for spouses and, since March 2009, for couples in a de facto relationship.
What is the process?
Where there is no agreement between parties, the Family Law Act uses a four-step process to determine the division of property. Firstly, the net asset pool is calculated. Secondly, an assessment is made of each party’s contributions, including financial and non-financial input (such as homemaking and parenting). Thirdly, adjustments are made for ‘future needs’ based on, for example, income-earning capacity and parental responsibility. Finally, consideration is given to the over-arching provision that the agreement must be just and equitable for the Court to make the Order.
Can I keep assets I brought to the relationship?
The issues of original ownership of assets, and contributions such as an inheritance, may be taken into account when determining the division of the asset pool. This will depend on the length of the relationship, what proportion of the total asset pool any such assets and contributions represent as well as the general contributions of the parties.
What about superannuation?
The Court can make superannuation splitting orders however, given the nature of superannuation, it may be treated differently to other assets.