Family Law Property Settlements
The Federal and Federal Circuit Courts have broad powers to make Orders for a just and equitable division of family assets.
Dividing the Assets
In a Family Law property settlement, the Court will use the following steps in making a decision as how the family property is to be divided:
Step 1: The identification of family assets and liabilities such as superannuation entitlements, personal assets, partnership assets, trusts and company assets.
Step 2: The court will then consider what each party contributed to the acquisition, preservation, improvement or maintenance of the assets. These contributions are assessed in a financial sense as well as a non-financial sense, e.g. housekeeping. In simple terms, the court looks at what each party brought to the table.
Step 3: If necessary, the court will make adjustments for the future needs of each party, particularly with respect to the care and needs of children, disparity in learning capacity, health status and to an extent, age.
Step 4: Before making final orders, the court will make a final assessment to ensure that the proposed asset division is just and equitable.
Pre-Marital Assets and Inheritances?
The Family Law act does not allow for pre-marital assets, gifts and inheritances assets to be excluded. The court does have discretion to give significant “credit” to the party who was responsible for bringing in the asset into the marriage.
Domestic Violence and Misconduct
Aside from the ramifications in other areas of law, in family law it is an established principle that when the actions or conduct of one spouse makes the other spouse’s contributions “significantly more arduous than they ought to have been”, then this can result in that party obtaining a greater share of the assets. In simple terms if you have behaved inappropriately you may be penalised in a family law property settlement.
Special contributions refers to a particular skill or level of expertise of ne partner that has resulted in a financial windfall for the marriage. Traditionally, special contributions have affected the way that the assets are divided in family law property settlements. However, a case decided in 2015 has effectively changed the law so that special contributions will not necessarily result in a greater share of the assets being apportioned to that partner.
If you have a question about family law property division, please contact Kroesen & Co. Lawyers.