A property settlement resolves financial issues after a relationship ends, including the division of property and the payment of maintenance. Divorcing spouses or couples who are ending de facto relationships can make their own agreement or they can ask the court to make decisions for them. This article explains how to get that process started.
It is always better to negotiate a property division with your former spouse or partner. You know which property is the most important to you. The court, on the other hand, knows almost nothing about you. The court will follow the law but only you can follow your heart when you negotiate for items of property that are of value to you.
You may not get everything you want through negotiation, but you will keep control of the process and be able to make your own decisions. You will also avoid the uncertainty of leaving decisions to the court. In any event, unless unusual circumstances exist, you cannot apply to the court for a financial order until you try to resolve your differences through negotiation.
If you are having trouble communicating effectively with your former spouse or partner, or if you have reached an impasse in your negotiations, use a mediator to help you reach an agreement. The Family Law Court can provide you with a list of mediators in your area.
If you cannot reach an agreement, you can ask the Family Law Court to make a property settlement for you. You can only do that after making a genuine effort to resolve your differences without court involvement.
In most cases, you are required to comply with certain pre-action procedures before you apply for a financial order. These are the steps:
After your former spouse or partner replies or after the deadline for a reply passes, you can apply for a financial order if the process to that point has not resulted in a property settlement. A lawyer can help you complete and file an application for a financial order and can assist you if the case proceeds to a contested hearing.