After a marriage or de facto separation, the Family Law Court will divide your property and assets and determine your spousal maintenance requirements by applying the certain laws contained in either the Federal Family Law Act 1975 or the Western Australian Family Court Act 1997. Exceptions apply if you have a Binding Financial Agreement (also known as a “Pre-nuptial Agreement”). The same laws apply to de facto (including same-sex relationships) and married spouses, except for the division of superannuation.
Whilst common properties are identified as houses and financial assets, they can also include but are not limited to businesses, trust funds, investments, superannuations and pension entitlements. It also includes any outstanding debts or liabilities. An important and often overlooked factor is each persons future requirements and ability to meet them, as well as how it might impact on your living conditions and that of any dependants.
When resolving a property division dispute, the Family Court enters into a four step process, namely:
- Identify the nature and value of the property of the marriage/relationship;
- Identify the financial and non-financial contributions of the parties and thus their entitlements based on their respective contributions;
- Consider whether there should be any adjustment to the parties entitlements in Step 2, based upon their present and future circumstances; and
- Consider the effect of the findings in Step 2 and 3 and make an order that is just and equitable.
This process may seem simple, but can sometimes be very complex. It is at these times that it is wise to seek legal advice prior to attempting to negotiate any property matters with your spouse or partner. We’ll be happy to take your call and set up an initial consultation if you have concerns regarding your current situation. Contact Us now.