After separation, parties will usually need to arrange a division of their property. Depending on the circumstances, parties may either:
– agree how property should be divided without the involvement of the Courts;
– apply to the Courts for consent orders to formalise an agreement on property division; or
– apply to the Courts for financial orders to divide the property and decide how much maintenance should be paid if at all.
Consent orders require parties to still have an amicable relationship post-separation as parties will have to submit to the Court what their proposed arrangements are. If parties do not have an amicable post-separation relationship, financial orders may be the best way forward.
To obtain a financial order, an application must be made either to the Federal Circuit Court or the Family Court. In deciding the application, a Court will undertake a four-step process. The first step is to identify all assets, liabilities and financial resources each party possesses. This may be a relatively straightforward process, or it may be complex depending on the case. In some cases for example, there may be family businesses involved and this might make the process more complicated.
The second step is to assess what each party’s contributions were. ‘Contributions’, in this context, refers to both direct and indirect financial and non-financial contributions. It also includes any contributions each party made in taking care of the family. In most cases, the Court will find that parties have made equal contributions, especially in the case of long relationships.
The third step the Court undertakes is to consider what future needs each party may have. This will include considerations such as the state of health of each party, capacity for employment, reasonable living standards and whether a party has now begun another relationship.
The final step is to consider, in light of the previous three steps, whether it would be just and equitable to both parties to divide the property in the proposed manner.
Having to arrange for property orders may make separation and divorce even more difficult. Here at Straits Lawyers, we have experience and expertise in helping couples with their property settlements. If you would like to discuss any of these matters further, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 08 8410 9069 to arrange an appointment.
Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice and Straits Lawyers will not be legally responsible for any actions you take based on this article.