If you and your spouse agree on a property settlement, it is important that this be properly documented, even if you have minimal or no assets when you separate.
Why do I need to document a property settlement?
It finalises matters, provides certainty and eliminates the possibility of your spouse making claims against your assets, including those you accumulate after separation. Documenting your property agreement in accordance with the law ensures your interests are protected and you can move forward with your life.
What if we cannot agree about a property settlement?
You must apply for a property order within 12 months of being granted a divorce. In limited cases, the Court may extend this based on hardship grounds.
What if we do not own any assets?
It may still be important to formalise a property settlement. A recent decision by the Family Court highlights the importance of doing so. The parties involved had been divorced for many years. Either could have instituted proceedings within 12 months of divorce, but they did not own any assets and did not, as a result, feel the need to have a property settlement.
A few years after their divorce, one party won a lottery. The Court gave permission to the other party to start property proceedings even though the time frame had passed. This meant the Court could take into account the lottery winnings when determining the respective property entitlements.
Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson can advise you about the best way to document a property agreement.