Spouses who are getting divorced can finalise a property settlement at any time after separation and before either spouse has applied for a divorce. Once a divorce has been obtained however, you only have 12 months in which to apply for a property settlement. If more than a year has passed since obtaining your divorce, you have to seek the court’s permission to make an application. In most cases, couples can reach an agreement on how their property will be divided.
The traditional approach is for the lawyers to handle the negotiations, usually by written correspondence, and then when an agreement is reached it is formalised by the Court.
If an agreement cannot be reached and the matter is referred to the court for a decision, all of the property and financial resources of the parties including things like real estate, investments, interests in companies, family trusts, life insurance and superannuation will be taken into account. The court will consider each spouse’s contribution to the family, and contribution to the acquisition, conservation and improvement of the property, as well as the present and future income of each spouse, their needs and responsibilities. A decision will then be made on the division of the property.
If you and your ex-spouse/partner would rather work out the division of your property and the arrangements regarding your children for yourselves, then a new approach to family law in Australia may be the best option for you. Collaborative Family Law involves you and your partner negotiating the division of property and parenting arrangements in face-to-face meetings with specially trained lawyers.