If your relationship breaks down, you can apply to a Family Law Court for a financial order that will divide your property. This article explains how a court will decide that application.
Before you can apply for a financial order, you must try to come to your own agreement. The court will expect you to obtain assistance from a dispute resolution service if you cannot negotiate a settlement on your own. If you can settle your differences through negotiation and mediation, you will save time and money. You may also be more satisfied with the outcome.
When you think about making a property settlement, you can be guided by the factors that the court will consider if it divides your property. The primary factors are:
The need for maintenance requires the court to consider the party’s age, health, and earning capacity. The court can award maintenance separately but it can also provide for maintenance by increasing the party’s share of the property settlement.
When the court considers financial and nonfinancial contributions, it compares the contributions made by each spouse to the marriage. For example, one spouse’s attention to parenting and homemaking might have freed the other spouse to devote time to a career and income production. In a long marriage, the court might be inclined to say that each party contributed equally.
In a short relationship, on the other hand, the court might be inclined to return to each party the property that each brought into the marriage and to divide property acquired during the marriage according to how it was purchased. Jointly purchased property might be divided equally while property purchased by one spouse might be awarded to that spouse.
The goal in every case is to do what is fair. At the same time, what is fair is determined by the court’s consideration of the factors identified above.