When couples separate, a conversation usually follows about how they should divide up their property and financial assets. Sometimes it is possible to reach a mutual agreement about how to divide up assets, liabilities, superannuation and financial resources. However, in the event that agreement cannot be reached, there are services available to assist in this process.
In the event that help is needed with these negotiations, separating couples are encouraged to seek the assistance of an independent third party, such as a family lawyer, dispute resolution practitioner or mediator. In some cases, it may also be useful to seek advice from financial planners and accountants.
In the event that a couple is still unable to agree, the next step is to apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for a Judge to make a financial division order.
However a financial division is reached, it is strongly recommended that any agreement be correctly documented. There are a number of ways to do this, including Binding Financial Agreements and Consent Orders. Documenting the agreement is important for finality, and to ensure that relevant titles, assets and debts are correctly transferred.
Generally speaking, a property settlement involves:
- identifying what is included in the property pool;
- negotiating the division of the pool by way of a property agreement; and
- formalising the agreement to achieve a property settlement.
You may have a number of questions about this process, such as:
- Will our home be sold, or can I keep it?
- What will happen to our business and other investments?
- Who will be responsible for our debts?
- What if my partner has a greater superannuation than I do?
- What if we are a one income household?
- Can we divide our property if we have children?
- Do we need a divorce to achieve a property settlement?
- What about the money my parents gave us?
Depending on your individual circumstances, the process may involve various issues and complexities. The most important thing is to understand that legal advice and assistance is available, and that this can be accessed both before and after the separation.
There are a number of options available to separating couples to best document their financial agreement without going to Court, including Binding Financial Agreements and Consent Orders.