When a marriage or de facto relationship ends, dividing property and assets can be a complex and emotional process. In Australia, the Family Law Act 1975 governs property settlements for married and de facto couples. This article aims to provide an overview of what you need to know about property settlements in Australia.
Who is eligible for a property settlement?
Married couples who have separated and de facto couples who have separated after 1 March 2009 are eligible to apply for a property settlement. De facto couples who separated before 1 March 2009 may also be eligible in certain circumstances, such as if they have a child together or if they lived together for at least two years.
What is included in the property pool?
The property pool includes all assets and liabilities owned by the parties, whether jointly or individually. This can include:
- The family home
- Investment Properties
- Bank accounts
- Cars and other vehicles
- Household items and furniture
- Debts and loans
The property pool also takes into account any contributions made by each party, both financial and non-financial, as well as the future needs of each party, such as their income, age, health, and parenting responsibilities.
What is a just and equitable property settlement?
The Family Law Act requires property settlements to be just and equitable, taking into account the individual circumstances of each case. This means that there is no set formula for dividing property and assets, and each case will be decided on its own merits.
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Factors that may be considered when determining a just and equitable property settlement include:
- The length of the relationship
- The financial and non-financial contributions of each party
- The future needs of each party, such as their income, age, health, and parenting responsibilities
- Any other relevant factors, such as the parties standard of living during the relationship and the contributions of each party to the welfare of the family, including any homemaking or parenting contributions
What is the process for property settlements?
The process for property settlements can vary depending on the individual circumstances of each case. Generally, the process involves the following steps:
- Gathering financial information: Each party will need to disclose all of their financial information, including their assets, liabilities, income, and expenses.
- Negotiating a settlement: The parties may attempt to negotiate a settlement between themselves, with the assistance of lawyers or a mediator.
- Filing an application with the court: If a settlement cannot be reached, either party may file an application with the court for a property settlement.
- Court proceedings: If court proceedings are necessary, the court will make orders for the division of property and assets based on the individual circumstances of the case.
What are the statistics on property settlements in Australia?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 49,032 divorces granted in Australia in 2019, with a crude divorce rate of 2.0 divorces per 1,000 estimated resident population. In the same year, there were 80,222 family law applications filed in the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia.
In terms of property settlements, the Family Court of Australia reports that in the 2019-20 financial year, the average time taken to finalise property settlement cases was 11 months.
Dividing property and assets can be a difficult process, but it is important to understand your rights and obligations under Australian family law. If you are going through a separation or divorce, it is recommended that you seek the advice of an experienced family lawyer to assist you with your property settlement.
What is a property settlement?
A property settlement is a process of dividing property and assets between separating couples. It can be done through a mutual agreement between the parties, or by a court order if an agreement cannot be reached.
What factors are considered in property settlements in Australia?
The Family Law Act 1975 outlines the factors that are considered in property settlements, which include the financial and non-financial contributions of each party, their future needs, and the duration of the relationship.
What is the process for property settlements in Australia?
The process usually involves gathering and valuing all assets and liabilities of the parties, negotiating a settlement between the parties, and then formalizing the agreement by consent orders or a financial agreement.
Do property settlements include superannuation?
Yes, superannuation is considered a type of property in Australia and is included in property settlements. The value of each party’s superannuation will be taken into account when dividing the property.
Can property settlements be changed?
Once a property settlement has been finalized and approved by the court, it is generally final and binding. However, there are limited circumstances where a property settlement can be changed, such as if there has been a significant change in circumstances.
Do I need a lawyer for property settlements?
It is recommended that you seek legal advice from a family lawyer when going through a property settlement. A lawyer can provide you with guidance and representation to help you achieve a fair outcome.
How long does a property settlement take in Australia?
The length of time for a property settlement can vary depending on the complexity of the matter and whether an agreement can be reached. It can take anywhere from a few months to several years to finalize a property settlement.
What happens if we can’t reach an agreement?
If the parties cannot reach an agreement, then the matter may need to go to court for a decision to be made. This can be a lengthy and costly process, and it is generally recommended that parties try to reach an agreement outside of court if possible.