Family Law Frequently Asked Questions

By 24 March 2023Family Law
Family Law Property Settlement

What is a Family Law Property Settlement?

A Family Law property settlement is the formal division of assets under the Family Law Act 1975 between separated married or de facto couples.

The division of assets is usually formalised through a consent order which is approved by a court.

Once an order has been made, this is recognised as a final property settlement between two separated spouses.

How is a family law property settlement worked out?

One of the first steps is to work out what the pool of assets is. This includes determining the value of any properties (such as houses, units and vacant blocks of land), cars, shares and other investments and superannuation entitlements.

An assessment is then made of each party’s contributions – this includes financial contributions (such as what each party brought iinto the relationship, inheritances, financial gifts from relatives, compensation payments etc) and other contributions including contributions to the household and caring for children.

Once this has occurred, an assessment is made of each party’s future needs including their income, access to financial resources and ongoing care of children.

When do I need to do a family law property settlement?

The time frame for making an application for the division of property under the Family Law Act 1975 is: For de facto couples, within 2 years from the date of separation; For married couples between the date of separation and 12 months after a divorce order has been made.

Do I need to do a family law property settlement?

It is common for separated couples to have a jointly owned property that needs to be sold or transferred to one spouse to give effect to a division of assets. In such cases, orders can be made in relation to the sale of a property or transfer of that property into one party’s name. Orders can detail how and when such sale or transfer is to take place. In the case of the sale of a property, the orders can stipulate how the net sale proceeds will be divided. In the case of the transfer of a property, the orders can deal with any payment that is to be made to the other spouse at the same time as the transfer of the property and discharge of the mortgage. Even when there is no jointly owned property, it is important to have a formal property settlement that is recognised under the Family Law Act 1975 as otherwise there is a risk that either party may make an application to the Court for a division of the property in the future. This could even include property that has been acquired after separation.