A matrimonial property settlement involves the legal distribution or division of property that is within the ownership and control of a married couple.
Often surrounded by myth and misunderstanding, the process of achieving a successful and amicable separation of assets between two people is one of the times in your life when the right advice from the right person - an experienced family law solicitor, is critical.
Kennedy Spanner Lawyers is a leading Queensland family law practice with multiple office locations, including Brisbane. Our experienced family lawyers have advised thousands of people from across Australia on property settlements.
Seek advice early
If you have separated from your spouse you should talk to us as soon as possible to get a clear understanding of your property settlement rights and obligations. You can start the process of property settlement immediately after separating from your spouse. You do not need to wait for your divorce to be finalised. In fact, in most cases, the process of getting divorced is the final step, rather than the initial step.
It is important to bear in mind that if you are divorced a time limit applies which means you only have one year from the date your divorce takes effect to either finalise your property settlement agreement or commence court proceedings.
What will I receive?
The first question many separated people ask is “What am I entitled to?”. Unfortunately there is no quick and easy answer to this question. The Family Law Court uses a wide range of factors to determine how assets and money should be split in a property settlement. These may include the length of the relationship, your age and health, contributions made to the relationship both financially and non-financially, the needs of children of the relationship and others.
The process of reaching a property settlement can be as varied and unique as the individuals involved in the relationship. Kennedy Spanner works hard to avoid having to go to Court to resolve these matters but in some instances that is unavoidable. We work with you to minimise the stress, cost and time involved in your matrimonial property settlement.
If you have reached agreement
If you and your former spouse have reached an agreement as to your property settlement it is important that you have this agreement formally recognised by the court with the assistance of a family lawyer. Only by documenting and registering the agreement can you ensure it is enforceable in the future and not subject to one party trying to change it at a later date.
Defacto Property Settlement
Under Australian law, a de facto relationship is legally recognised, provided it involves two consenting adults who are living together as a couple on a domestic basis. The law for de facto relationships does not distinguish between same sex or different sex couples.
If you were in a de facto relationship for more than two years, or if you have children from that relationship, you may be entitled to a de facto property settlement. An entitlement might also exist for relationships shorter than two years if there have been significant financial contributions or if you have registered your relationship in your state.
If you have been involved in a de facto relationship which has broken down and there is jointly owned property involved it is important that you seek advice from an experienced family lawyer like one of the team members here at Kennedy Spanner Lawyers.
What will I receive?
Your entitlement to property that has been part of the de facto relationship is dependent on a variety of factors that only an experienced family lawyer can explain. This may include the length of your relationship, financial and non-financial contributions, and any children and their ages.
Most importantly, if you delay, you may put your entitlement at risk. There is a two year limit from the date of separation in which you can resolve your de facto property settlement or issue court proceedings.
Sometimes people may not take action to protect their own interests because they are concerned about the cost of going to court. Kennedy Spanner works to minimise both cost and the likelihood that a court appearance will be necessary. In most cases the matter will settle without Court involvement other than to have the Court confirm and register the details of your de facto property settlement.
Because de facto relationships may be shorter than a marriage, or are considered by some to be a step towards marriage, the arrangements around property ownership and interests can be less clear. You may have been contributing financially to the purchase of a house which does not have your name on the title for example. If this is the case you may have a legitimate claim to an interest in the property and you may wish to take immediate steps if you are aware that your ex-partner is planning to sell it.
If you have recently separated from your de facto partner, act now. Contact Kennedy Spanner Lawyers for an appointment to discuss your rights and whether you should pursue a property settlement.