Four Steps in reaching a property settlement in a Family Dispute under the Australian Family Law
Property settlement is one of the most important issues that should be addressed by the Court in any Family Dispute lodged in its jurisdiction. This matter is crucial since it will determine the financial stability of the family members in the future. Child Support will be affected by this settlement since the financial strength will always determine how much support a child can get.
If a Spousal Maintenance is required by the court, in some cases, it will also rely in the settling of the properties between husband and wife.
There are four steps for the Court to determine the settlement of the property in a Family Dispute. These are:
In determining the Asset Pool, the Court generally takes into account all the properties and assets regardless of whether it is acquired before or during the marriage. Property as defined by the Court takes into account everything that is of value. It includes all assets of the parties such as real estate properties, cars, jewelleries, furniture and other things acquired through the commerce of man. Superannuation is different as the court may order its division after examining the type of fund and its value in relation to the order of the property settlement.
Determining the contributions made to the asset pool of the family is the next step in Property Settlement in a Family Dispute. All contributions made by a party, whether it is Financial or Non-Financial, are taken into account. Initial contributions or those properties already acquired and brought into the marriage by a party also play a significant role in the Property Settlement.
In short marriage, Initial contribution will carry more weight since the asset of the family acquired during the marriage is still small. However in long marriages, where a lot of assets are acquired, initial contribution will have lesser impact.
Future Needs of the Family are also important. It usually includes support for the aging partners and for the Child. It takes into account a lot of things such as: age of the parties; health condition; capacity to earn; property of each parties; whether care and support are given to their child; and financial circumstance in their new relationship.
The last and final step to consider is the effect of the property settlement which should always aim to the just and equitable settlement of the property after taking into consideration all the circumstances of the marriage.
A full and frank disclosure of all the properties and assets should be made by all parties concerned in a Property Settlement. After reaching an agreement thereto, the parties may formalize the settlement by a Consent Order through the Court or making a Financial Agreement under the Family Law Act.