Dividing property after a relationship breakdown can be a complex and emotionally charged process. In Australia, the Family Law Act 1975 provides the framework for property settlements in both marriage and de facto relationship breakdowns. One of the critical considerations when dividing property is the future needs of both parties.
When dividing property, the court must consider what is 'just and equitable' in all the circumstances. This involves a four-step process:
The consideration of future needs is a crucial step in this process. It ensures that the division of property is not only based on past contributions but also takes into account the financial circumstances each party will likely face in the future. This approach recognises that the financial needs and circumstances of each party can significantly change after separation, and it is essential to ensure that both parties can adequately support themselves moving forward.
The Family Law Act lists several factors that the court may consider when assessing the future needs of each party, including:
Age and State of Health: The age and health of each party can significantly affect their ability to work and earn an income in the future. Older parties or those with health issues may have a limited capacity to support themselves financially.
Income, Property, and Financial Resources: The court will consider each party's current income, property, and financial resources, as well as their ability to earn an income in the future.
Physical and Mental Capacity: The physical and mental capacity of each party to gain employment will be considered.
Care of Children: If one party has the care of children under 18, this will affect their ability to work and earn an income.
Eligibility for a Pension or Benefit: If one party is eligible for a pension, allowance, or benefit, this may affect their need for support from the property settlement.
Responsibilities to Support Others: If either party has a responsibility to support any other person, this will be considered.
Standard of Living: The court will consider the reasonable standard of living that is desirable for both parties.
The Duration of the Marriage or Relationship: The length of the marriage or relationship may affect the financial circumstances of each party.
The consideration of future needs is a crucial aspect of property division in family law in Australia. It ensures that the division of property is fair and equitable and that both parties can adequately support themselves moving forward. The court will consider a range of factors, including age, health, income, caring responsibilities, and the standard of living, to assess the future needs of each party. It is advisable to seek legal advice to understand how these factors may affect your case and to ensure that your future needs are adequately considered in the property settlement.