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Understanding Property Settlement in Family Law

In Family Law, a Property Settlement is an arrangement made between parties to divide assets, liabilities and financial resources when a couple separates. It is the final resolution of the ownership of property, allowing the two individuals to retain assets as their own personal properties.

What assets are included in a Property Settlement?

Assets can include almost anything of value, including:

  • Property that is owned jointly or independently
  • Assets acquired through inheritance
  • Money and finances
  • Business interests
  • Trust interests
  • Superannuation
  • Cars
  • Pets and animals

Assets that can be divided in a Property Settlement are not limited to property that has been acquired during the relationship. It can include property that was owned prior to the relationship commencement and even after the separation.

Are liabilities included?

Yes, liabilities may also be divided between parties, whether they were held jointly or individually. This includes:

  • Debts
  • Loans
  • Tax
  • Stamp duty obligations

Court ordered property settlement

If the two parties cannot reach an agreement outside of court an application can be made to have a court make an order. A court will only make an order if it is fair and reasonable to alter the parties’ property interests.

The court will follow a five-step process to determine how property will be divided. The process is as followed:

  1. Identify existing legal and equitable interests of each party
  2. Determine whether the circumstances are just and equitable to make a property settlement order
  3. Determine the direct and indirect, financial and non-financial contributions that are made by or on behalf of each of the parties as a percentage based entitlement
  4. Consider any further amendments to the percentage based entitlement by taking into account any future needs of the parties
  5. Determine whether the result is a just and equitable result in all circumstances

It is important that a Property Settlement is settled sooner rather than later after separation. This is due to the fact that the law takes into account any assets at the current date rather than dividing assets that existed at the initial separation. If you are divorced, take into consideration that you only have 12 months – from the date of your divorce – to file proceedings for a property settlement in Court.

At Geldard Sherrington Lawyers we understand the emotional stress that can be caused by the breakdown of family relationships. As a well-established family law firm on the Fraser Coast, we strive to offer expert advice and service to help you reach a fair and equitable property settlement solution. Call through to our friendly team anytime on (07) 4194 5422.

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