Following separation, Affinitas Legal can provide you with tailored advice on your likely property entitlements, whilst providing you with various options for settlement. Whilst some property settlements can be simple, others can be complex, and it is imperative to get comprehensive legal advice.
The Family Court use a four-step process to determine property settlements between married, and de-facto couples.
Step One – Your Asset Pool
This includes all assets, liabilities and financial resources that you and your spouse own, jointly and solely. There is a legal obligation that all assets or liabilities owned jointly, solely or in any international jurisdiction are disclosed.
A common misconception is that your asset pool is determined at the time you separate, however this is not the case. Your asset pool is determined at the time you finalise your property settlement, or when the Family Court determines your property settlement, on a final basis. The Family Court do have the ability to make adjustments to entitlements to the asset pool, taking into account the disparity in asset pool value at the time of separation, and the asset pool value at the time your matter is finalised.
Step Two – Your Contributions
The contributions made during the course of your relationship, include both financial and non-financial aspects. Whether one party was the primary income earner, and one the primary caregiver of children, are all relevant when determining your property settlement.
Contributions can often be difficult to assess, and each relationship will be treated uniquely depending on the circumstances. There is no set formula for determining the respective contributions of each person.
Step Three – Future Needs
There is an obligation for the Court to consider the ‘future needs’ of both parties. In short, whether either party requires an adjustment to their entitlements in the asset pool, by virtue of the following factors:
- The age and state of health of each party.
- The income, earning capacity, property or financial resources of either party.
- Whether either party has the care or control of a child under 18 years of age.
- The duration of the relationship, and the extent to which it has affected either parties’ ability to earn an income.
This is not a conclusive list of all future needs factors that the Court may consider.
Step Four – What is ‘just and equitable’
After analysing your contributions, and ‘future needs’ factors, the Family Court will come to a final decision about how your asset pool should be divided. Given that there is no exact method when making this decision, the Family Court needs to be satisfied that the overall property division is ‘just and equitable’.
Property settlements can be difficult to navigate, and more often than not, you will need to receive tailored legal advice. At Affinitas Legal, our Family Lawyers in Perth can assist you to reach a fair and reasonable property settlement and are experienced in advising you on all aspects of your financial settlement.