The changing face of Australia includes varieties of legally accepted relationships such as same-sex marriage and de facto partnerships. If you have been in a long-term de facto relationship for two years or more, and your relationship has ended, you are entitled to spousal maintenance and a share of property (equity). If your ex-partner is dragging their heels on the matter, Taylor & Scott Lawyers can provide an impartial assessment and help you draft a resolution that satisfies everyone’s needs.
How long do you have to file a property settlement claim after separation?
Although laws governing married and de facto relationships are fairly similar, there are differences worth knowing about. For example, married couples can agree to time-extensions for finalising property and spousal arrangements, whereas de facto partners must file proceedings within two years of separation, without the option for an extension except in extreme circumstances.
You will need to prove the duration and intimate status of your de-facto relationship as it was prior to separation. In order to assess your property settlement claim in accord with the Family Law Act, the Court may examine information that includes:
- The duration of the de facto relationship
- Common residence and living arrangements prior to separation
- The degree of ongoing financial interdependency
- Ownership, acquisition and use of shared property
- Whether the relationship was officially registered
- The needs of any children from the relationship
How long does it take for a property settlement claim to be processed?
Prior to filing a property settlement application with the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court, both parties are expected to undergo pre-action dispute resolution procedures. This is one area where professional family dispute practitioners at Taylor & Scott Lawyers can assist. Achieving acceptable property settlement outcomes, and including formalised agreements without court intervention, can save time, money, and a lot of heartache.
If negotiations reach a stalemate without resolution, Taylor & Scott are ready to represent your interests against opposing legal teams or in court if required. Here are the property settlement pathways available:
Financial Agreements: A ‘financial agreement’ drafted between de facto couples before or during the relationship can act in a similar way to a ‘pre-nuptial’ agreement within marriage. To become legally binding, the agreement must be signed by both parties after receiving independent legal and financial advice.
Consent Orders: If your de facto property settlement is in dispute and negotiable, it’s advisable to enter into mediation under the guidance of Taylor & Scott Family Law experts. Once everyone is satisfied with the outcome, you can apply for legally recognised Consent Orders to formalise your agreement.
Property Orders: If you don’t have a financial agreement in place, you can apply for Property Orders. The application to the Federal Magistrates Court or the Family Court of Australia must be made within two years of your relationship ending, and both parties need to disclose their full financial situation. The Court will ascertain the net assets combined, individual contributions, and the future needs of both parties prior to making any decision.
How can I make a claim for spousal maintenance?
An application for spousal maintenance can be made if one ex-partner is unable to meet their financial needs and the other partner has the capacity to pay maintenance without suffering financial hardship. A judicial officer has the power to decide what is fair and equitable, based on information that includes:
- Your income, financial resources, property ownership and outstanding debts
- Relationship arrangements that affected your earning ability
- A determination of a suitable standard of living according to your needs
- Living arrangements for any children involved in the relationship
- Your age and health
Spousal maintenance is often part of an overall financial arrangement (settlement) designed to accommodate the needs of both ex-partners and any children affected by separation. Taylor & Scott Lawyers have been the go-to team for generations of Australians requiring timely and decisive legal action, and if you believe you and your loved ones deserve the best, contact Taylor & Scott Family Law professionals for a winning de facto separation agreement.
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