Legal Settlement of Property after Divorce under Australian Law
During marriage, spouses usually share a common pool of assets and resources that is collectively known as ‘property’. Family lawyers will explain that the process of divorce has far-reaching financial implications for both partners. If one or both partners own property individually, jointly or along with others, either party is entitled to request a property settlement from the other. The objective of the Australian property settlement law is to ensure fair distribution of property after separation and divorce.
In fact, property settlement laws not only govern marriage but also ‘de facto’ relationships, i.e., couples who live together on a domestic basis. In Australia, the Family Law Act of 1975 determines property settlement after divorce or separation. Property, in general, may include assets and resources that are owned or controlled by either one of the partners. Thus, property may include:
- Real estate (Houses, apartments, plots and so on)
- Vehicles (including cars and boats)
- Money in bank accounts
- Controlling interests in businesses and companies, shares
- Interests in family trusts and estates
- Jewellery, artworks, antiques and so on
It is a good idea to sort out property settlement in the immediate aftermath of the separation. Interest rates may rise or fall, real estate may be sold or controlling business interests may fluctuate. Prolonging the decision to sort out your property after divorce often results in confusion, delay and legal wrangling that may lead to increased costs for one or both parties.
Prompt and efficient property settlement also means that you can get on with living your lives, while being confident that you have received a fair deal. To be specific, according to the Australian Family Law Act, married couples must usually submit their applications for property settlement within twelve months of separation. This period is extended for two years for couples (same sex or opposite sex) in a de facto relationship.
The problem is, if you don’t commence submitting your application for property settlement within these time limits, there is always a chance that you may not receive your rightful property entitlement. Once both parties discuss their requirement with legal professionals and agree to the terms, the court or the magistrate will then issue what is called a ‘Consent Order’. Once the court is satisfied that the agreement is fair to both parties, they will issue the required Orders.
Each case is different and the manner of property distribution is determined according to the stipulations laid out in the Family Law Act. With increasing divorce rates in Australia, couples need to be especially careful about how property settlement is determined as this has a far-reaching impact on their lives. Unresolved settlements often turn into acrimonious disagreements and may result in stress and worry for both parties.