When a spousal relationship ends arrangements need to be made for the financial relationship of the parties to also come to an end. This is commonly referred to as completing a property settlement.
Whilst there are many benefits of negotiating your property settlement out of Court, if an agreement can not be reached, both the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia have the ability to determine contested property settlement disputes.
The laws about how to divide relationship property following separation are set out in the Family Law Act 1975.
At Craven Lawyers, our experienced family lawyers are here to guide you through the process of negotiating a property settlement to the best possible outcome. Whether your circumstances are amicable or hotly contested our expert family lawyers have the skills necessary to assist you with your property settlement dispute diligently and professionally. If you need help to ensure you receive what you are entitled to call us today on 1800 LAW 000 (1800 529 000)
How long do I have to finalise my property settlement?
If you and your partner have separated, you are able to finalise a property settlement by agreement at any time within the statutory time limit. The statutory time limits are as follows: –
♦ Married couples– an Application must be commenced within 1 year of the date of their divorce order.
♦ De facto couples– an Application must be commenced within 2 years from the date of separation.
If you and your partner are unable to agree on how to divide your property following separation, an Application must be commenced in the Court before the end of the statutory time limit.
How does the Court determine a property settlement dispute?
Determining how to divide relationship property between the parties following separation is an inexact science and requires a Judge exercising family law jurisdiction to exercise their discretion in making a property order.
In exercising its discretion, the Court will consider the following 4step process:
Step 1: What are the assets, liabilities and financial resources of the parties of the relationship?
Step 2: What contributions did each party make to the relationship property?
Step 3: What are the current and future needs of each party?
Step 4: What is just and equitable?
My former partner and I have reached an agreement, what should we do?
Your agreement should be documented in writing. There are two ways that a property settlement agreement can be documented: –
(1) File a Consent Order Application with the Court.
This is a joint application made by the parties which includes a draft Order setting out the terms of your agreement. A Registrar of the Court will review the details of the agreement before issuing an Order. Before the Registrar will issue the Order they have to satisfy themselves that it is just and equitable. The Application is reviewed by the Registrar “on the papers”, this means that once the Application has been filed neither party has to appear at Court.
(2) Document your agreement in a Financial Agreement.
A Financial Agreement is a private agreement and is not ratified by the Court. Financial Agreements are often more costly and time consuming to prepare than a Consent Order Application. Before a Financial Agreement can be signed, both parties must obtain independent legal advice about how the Financial Agreement will affect their rights and obligations.
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