Property Settlement Lawyers
Today, there are many financial structures, investment types and superannuation options available, and it’s increasingly important to choose a Family Lawyer who understands how to identify, value and advise regarding the effective division of assets.
Our clients have often accumulated a range of assets, and each needs to be accounted for in a Separation or Divorce. We are familiar with varying financial and commercial structures and can provide knowledgeable advice regarding how to obtain an accurate and appropriate valuation, ensuring all assets are included.
Your property may include the following:
- Real Estate (such as your home or investment property)
- Superannuation (including self-managed super funds)
- A Business, or interest in a company operating a Business
- Savings or Funds in the Bank
- An Interest in a Trust or Deceased Estate
- Motor Vehicles
- Personal items, such as Furniture and Jewellery
Often clients are concerned by the ownership of assets, with property in their partner’s name. We can help you to protect your legal interests in these assets, and work towards a fair and equitable division of your property.
We provide quality and honourable legal counsel to help you and your partner come to a reasonable and fair property settlement during your separation or divorce.
Our years of experience working with families of all backgrounds and circumstances allow us to provide tailored advice that encourages the best possible outcome when dividing your assets.
If you are separating from your partner and require legal assistance, get in touch with the best divorce property settlement lawyers at Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers today.
What are you entitled to in a property settlement?
Property settlement is the division of assets following a marriage or de facto relationship breakdown. Under Family Law, ‘property’ refers to any financial asset you and your partner share or own individually, including:
- Cash or personal savings
- Shares, stocks or bonds
- Land, property or other buildings, either in Australia or overseas
- Personal property, such as cars, jewellery, antiques
- Investments or trusts within a business
- An interest in a trust or deceased estate
As no two cases are the same, what you will be entitled to during your separation or divorce will come down to what is recognised by law as ‘just and equitable’ for your circumstances. One common misconception we see with our clients is that they believe assets will be distributed 50/50 — this is rarely the case.
Property settlement is based on several factors, such as:
- Your initial contribution to the value of current assets
- Whether you introduced additional assets during the relationship
- Whether you received an inheritance or other financial windfall during the relationship
- Both your incomes
- The length of your relationship
Reaching a just and equitable distribution is not easy, even for couples choosing to separate amicably. Often clients are concerned by the true ownership of assets, for instance, if a property is listed in only their partner’s name. Also, dividing major financial assets like the family home or car can bring intense emotions and be incredibly sentimental. Hiring a property settlement lawyer can help you manage emotions, as they will enforce your rights and work toward achieving a fair outcome.
Binding financial agreements — Do you need one?
Similar to a ‘prenuptial agreement’, a binding financial agreement (BFA) is a contract between two parties that defines how assets will be distributed should the relationship break down. When a married or de facto couple enters into a BFA, they both forfeit their rights under the Family Law Act for the Family Court to determine how assets should be divided.
BFAs can be introduced at any point during a relationship, including periods of separation and even divorce. The decision to enter a BFA during a separation or divorce depends entirely on your and your partner’s current circumstances. For instance, if you are struggling to determine a fair and equitable asset division among yourselves, a BFA may be even more difficult to prepare.
Several considerations must be taken into account before entering into a BFA. The Family Court has the right to set aside a BFA if the following issues occur:
- A party has failed to disclose assets relevant to the BFA
- The BFA was signed by a party under duress or by force
- There have been significant changes to one or both parties’ financial circumstance
If you believe a BFA will be beneficial during your separation or divorce, seeking legal advice is a must. Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers can help prepare and manage the necessary documents for a BFA to protect your rights.
Settling yourself vs. with a property settlement lawyer — what to consider
No matter if a couple is in the midst of separation or divorce, it’s encouraged that both parties work together to settle property distribution among themselves or alongside a legal professional to avoid litigation or asking the Court to decide. Not only can this be incredibly stressful, but reaching an agreement through the Court can also be costly and time-intensive.
Why work with a property settlement lawyer
Separation and divorce are, fortunately, foreign concepts to most Australian families. But this can also make navigating your own separation or divorce difficult, especially when it comes to splitting up your assets. Hiring a property settlement lawyer means you’ll have access to:
- Expert advice — Our lawyers regularly deal with property settlement matters of all scales. We can share years of knowledge and experience to help you with your case and ensure you receive the best outcome for your circumstances.
- Court representation — While our property settlement lawyers will do everything in their power to keep your matter from going to Court, they are more than capable of representing and litigating on your behalf.
If a couple cannot agree on how their assets should be divided, we may recommend dispute resolution or mediation. This process involves registered Family Dispute Resolution practitioners who can facilitate the conversation between you and your partner. Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers has an impressive track record of achieving favourable outcomes for all our clients through dispute resolution.
What happens when couples cannot agree?
If you and your partner still cannot agree on the division of your assets, you can then apply for a financial order — an order that determines property settlement and spousal maintenance. We can also do this on your behalf.
The property settlement process — assessing the contributions made by each party
Divorce and separation property settlement is usually broken down into steps, as several factors must be considered. The first step is to pool the property by adding the assets shared between both parties, like your home, vehicles, savings accounts, shares and more.
Do I have to include assets outside of Australia?
Yes, any assets owned outside of Australia must be included in the property settlement. Whether you choose to settle your property matters by consent or apply to the Family Court, full and frank disclosure must be provided. This means you cannot deliberately withhold information about any assets you may have.
Direct financial contributions
Direct financial contributions refer to any financial contribution made directly by yourself or your partner towards the acquisition, maintenance, conservation or improvement of any assets you own. For example, the income you earned during your relationship that was put toward mortgage repayments, purchasing a new car or saving goals.
Indirect financial contributions
An indirect financial contribution is any financial contribution made indirectly by yourself or your partner towards the acquisition, maintenance, conservation or improvement of any assets you own. For example, gifts of money given by your parents to purchase a property.
We will also consider any non-financial contributions you may have made during the relationship. This can include gardening, decorating, cleaning and other maintenance or renovations.
These are contributions made toward the welfare of any children in the relationship. In the eyes of the Court, these have equal weight to financial contributions.
Spousal maintenance and child support
Aside from determining financial and non-financial contributions during property settlement, the need for spousal maintenance and child support must also be assessed before reaching an agreement. Spousal maintenance refers to the financial support paid by one party to their husband or wife who cannot financially support themselves. Child support is ongoing financial support that assists with the cost of raising children.
Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers — helping you navigate your property settlement with confidence
Separation and divorce can happen at any life stage and cause significant emotional strain on the whole family. During our years of practice, we’ve seen countless couples endure emotional hardship regarding property settlement. From determining who will continue to live in the family home to equitably dividing family heirlooms and antiques, it’s easy for things to get out of hand.
Working with a property settlement lawyer can ease the stress of parting ways with the assets you shared with your partner and ensure a fair and just outcome. Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers is an expert in all matters pertaining to Family Law and has years of experience in the field.
Our team of solicitors will do everything possible to keep your matter out of Court, helping you avoid costly litigation. Have your case taken care of by one of our compassionate and respected property settlement lawyers by getting in touch today.
How we are different
Whatever your situation or circumstances are, we understand that no two matters are the same. Lisa Wagner & her team of specialist Sydney Divorce Lawyers have extensive experience in the division of property and assets post-separation and divorce. We will assess your particular situation and work with you to help you reach a favourable and quick outcome.
Full and frank disclosure
Full and frank disclosure of property and financial circumstances is required whether you choose to settle your property matters by consent or are required to make an application to the Family Court of Australia.
A full and frank disclosure assists with preparing a Balance Sheet and substantiating some, if not all, the various financial contributions made by you both during the relationship.
It is only when the financial contributions are considered in the context of the Balance Sheet, and further consideration is given to other non-financial contributions, that a just and equitable outcome can be agreed upon or determined.
In cases where one party is reluctant to provide full and frank disclosure or is deliberately withholding information, remedies are available. We can assist you by preparing and issuing subpoenas to third parties to obtain further information. Examples of subpoenas that could be issued to obtain proper disclosure may include; subpoenas to Medicare, banks, airlines, institutions where shares are held, child-care and schooling, medical professionals, the police, your former partner’s employer and any businesses or entities your former partner may be involved in.
We are also able to obtain specific searches to assist you with your matter such as; An Australian Securities and Investment Commission search and/or property searches, which may be useful tools in determining a proper financial settlement.
Urgency and injunctions
At times, urgent action may be required if you find yourself in a situation where your former partner is disposing of assets. In these cases, we can help you. Injunctions against parties and sometimes others are a common and effective tool to compel a party to undertake a certain act or to refrain from undertaking a certain act. One example is to stop a former spouse from selling or further encumbering real property or a business, even in circumstances where the real property is owned by one spouse only. This will ensure that the property and assets are safeguarded until such time as certain orders are made by the Court in relation to those assets or an agreement is reached. Regularly we encounter these roadblocks in property and financial matters. In these cases, steps can be quickly taken by us to ensure that any asset is secured. However, action must be taken quickly.
The importance of superannuation
It’s easy to overlook the significance of Superannuation, given that it’s not often thought of until your retirement nears. For many couples, their Superannuation forms a significant part of their asset pool.
If one partner has had significant time out of the workforce to raise children, it can skew the balance of Superannuation towards the other party, but the court will seek to impose an equitable division and we can help ensure it is done right.
Whether you hold your entitlements in a retail fund or manage your superannuation entitlements in a self-managed superannuation fund, we are adept at advising you on how to best manage these entitlements as part of an overall settlement.
At Doolan Wagner, we understand the importance of Superannuation for both today and for your future. Splitting Superannuation can be a complex process, and there may be taxation and other consequences to consider. We can help.
As experts in providing advice regarding Family Law Superannuation, you can feel confident that your interests will be well represented. If you have concerns over your assets, we can help.
Staying out of court
As always, negotiating an agreement with your former partner is best. We can help you with this process and your matter without going to Court. We can help you formalise any agreement you reach which will help prevent future claims and give you the comfort of knowing that any assets you accumulate post-separation are well protected. Consent Orders will be approved by the
Family Court if they are just and equitable.
Read our Insight: Mediation & Family Dispute Resolution Lawyers
The benefit of early advice
Whether you are considering separating or have separated, it is prudent that you take steps to obtain legal advice with respect to your situation and how to best secure any assets and property. Early advice can ensure the best outcome for you and specialist family lawyer advice can identify possible roadblocks and provide you with a sensible path forward. This is especially important, as there are specific time limits that you must comply with in relation to commencing property proceedings following a divorce.