Property settlements can be daunting for people with an aversion to drawn-out legal processes or unwillingness to lock horns with a former partner. It doesn’t have to be that way, as there are fast, cost-effective methods for achieving a satisfactory family law property settlement agreement without having to go to court. The goal is to protect your future by establishing a legally binding agreement, with several pathways worth exploring to ensure the agreement suits your style and needs.
How can you come to an agreement about dividing property?
Firstly it’s worth understanding the definition of property, as many people think property settlements only relate to real estate holdings. In fact, everything you own and share with your spouse or partner is considered property available for division, including cash, credit cards, shares, superannuation and businesses. In some cases, property held by trusts or third parties might also be considered “matrimonial property” available for division between you and your former spouse. Assets which you owned at the start of the relationship and which were acquired after the relationship but before entering into a formal property settlement agreement, may also be considered as part of the “matrimonial property pool”. Property includes major items such as:
- The family home;
- The holiday home;
- Cars, boats and other vehicles;
- Household effects and furnishings; and
- Personal items, jewellery and collectibles.
A property settlement agreement documents how the matrimonial property will be divided between you and is best achieved with the assistance of an experienced family law professional. If you remain on reasonable terms with your former partner, a Taylor & Scott Family Law lawyer can act as an impartial advisor, and if a negotiated agreement is required, your lawyer will utilise his or her expertise to maximise the chances of achieving a just and equitable outcome. Agreements which are negotiated without resort to litigation have advantages that include:
- Avoiding court costs and additional legal expense;
- Being a part of the decision-making process; and
- Less stress and uncertainty for you, your former spouse, and your children.
Can you make an agreement on property before the relationship has ended?
A property settlement can be established at any time during your relationship. You may even still be living together under the same roof during property settlement negotiations, although there are deadlines imposed for property settlement applications.
Married relationships: You can make a property settlement application anytime up to 12 months after your divorce takes effect.
De facto relationships: You can make a property settlement application up to 24 months from the date you and your partner separated.
What happens if an agreement cannot be made on the division of property?
If your former spouse or partner is unwilling to engage in negotiations or to accept reasonable offers of settlement, you can turn to the expertise of Taylor & Scott Lawyers. We will take detailed instructions from you so as to be able to give you comprehensive advice as to your entitlements under the Family Law Act. In putting ourselves in a position where we can give you that advice, we take the following steps:
1: Ascertain the content and value of the property available for distribution;
2: Assess financial and non-financial contributions made by or on behalf of you and your former spouse at the beginning of, during and after the relationship.
3: Identify and consider relevant section 75(2) factors, otherwise known as the future needs care for children going forward, age of the parties, health issues, financial resources and income disparities; and
4: Advise you as to the range of possible outcomes which the Court would consider to be “just and equitable” in the circumstances of your case.
Do you have to go to court to resolve property disputes?
At Taylor & Scott Lawyers, we consider that our role is to maximise the chances of settling your matter without resort to litigation. Court proceedings should only be entered into if negotiations with your former spouse reach an impasse. Fortunately, in the unfortunate event that litigation is unavoidable, your Taylor & Scott Lawyer will guide you through the litigation process with confidence and clarity.
At Taylor & Scott, We Care For You.