Property Settlements

One of the factors you must consider after deciding to separate or divorce is fairly dividing your property. Depending on the nature of your relationship, property settlements can become exceedingly complex.

Even if you are on amicable terms with your former partner, legal advice on dividing property is essential. You will want an expert in family law in your corner, even if you and your former spouse are not planning to go to court.

What is Considered Property in Western Australia?

The Western Australian Government considers property to be all of the liabilities and assets of a couple regardless of whose name it is in or who purchased the items in question.

What is Considered Property in Western Australia?

Examples of property include:

  • The family home
  • Bank accounts
  • Businesses
  • Cash
  • Debts including mortgages, car loans, personal debt, credit card debt
  • Family trusts
  • Inheritances
  • Investments
  • Insurance policies
  • Jewellery
  • Superannuation
  • Vehicles

You Have Limited Time for a Property Settlement

  • Married couples have one year from the date their divorce is finalised to agree upon a property settlement.
  • De facto couples have two years from the date they separated to make a property settlement. Additionally, de facto couples cannot split their superannuation. However, adjustments to the property settlement to account for the amount of the superannuation are acceptable.

Settlements Without Court

If you and your former spouse plan on avoiding court, there are two ways to proceed.

01

Make a Financial Agreement

Financial Agreement is a document that explains how you and your former partner will divide your property. While a financial agreement does not need to be approved by the court, you must have a lawyer’s advice when drawing up a financial agreement.

02

Arrange a Consent Order

Consent orders are documents that spell out details of how you and your former spouse will divide your property. Consent orders must have court approval and, once approved, are as enforceable as any court order made at a formal hearing. Courts do not automatically approve consent orders and will weigh in on the equity of the property settlement. A lawyer should take part in drawing up consent orders.

*Please Note* A third option you can use to divide your property with your former partner is called an informal agreement. This is a document that shows the division of property. However, legal counsel is not necessary, and courts cannot enforce informal agreements. Most family law experts believe informal agreements are not in the clients’ best interest.

Achieving a Fair Property Settlement

Several key factors should be considered when attempting property settlement. These are the same points the court takes into consideration when dividing property for divorcing partners.
  • The value of your assets minus your debts
  • Direct financial contributions made by both parties during the marriage, such as salary
  • Financial contributions made indirectly, such as gifts or inheritances
  • Non-financial contributions made during the marriage like caring for children
  • Future needs of both parties as determined by age, health, caring responsibilities, and future earning potential

*Please Note* Australian law views superannuation as a distinct type of property, and as such, it divides differently. Partners can value their superannuation and then split the payments. However, this does not mean earlier access to the funds.

As you sort through property accumulated through the years, it can be difficult to maintain objectivity. An experienced and compassionate legal team can help guide you through the process of property settlement.

The professionals at Allegra Family Lawyers are available to make your transition through this chaotic time in your life. We offer a no-cost, no-obligation hour-long consultation, so contact us to make an appointment to discuss your case. Allegra Family Lawyers will put our experience to work for you.

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The Family Court will use all of the information gathered to decide which living arrangements are in the child’s best interest.

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If you believe you have a case but would like more information, feel free to contact us. We can schedule your appointment for your free one-hour consultation and receive our recommendations. You do not need to struggle through a difficult time alone. Allegra Family Lawyers is here for you.