Assets and Debts sharing in Divorce in Australia

The very first question that arises in the minds of partners ( as it did when I was on the edge!)  when separating is what constitutes assets and how it is shared between them. Another side of the question, the partners generally, miss out, is to understand that debts too are included in division and are to be shared by the partners.

Matrimonial Assets

 

Here, I have tried to list out as much assets as possible that figure in property sharing during divorce. These make the Matrimonial Asset Pool for division between the partners:

  • Family home
  • Investments
  • Bonus payouts on investments
  • Furniture
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Insurance policy
  • Antiques
  • Superannuation
  • Family business entity

Investments– Real estates, shares and debentures form investments, that are added to assets pool for sharing.

Family home– Either of the partners can prefer to live in the family residence or wish to sell the family home and add the sale proceedings to matrimonial asset pool for division.

A family business entity– It can be a trust, a sole proprietorship, or a partnership enterprise. A partner can choose to walk out of the business enterprise by settling his/her stake with a lump sum amount or retain the stake and remain in the entity.

Superannuation– Superannuation is a retirement plan for Australian citizens, an initiative governed by the Australian Federal Government. Superannuation cannot be easily claimed by either of the partners. It is released only in extraordinary circumstances such as financial breakdown, fatal illness or similar distress situations.

Don’t miss out on debts! The debts are an important part of the settlement too. They can be, any or all of the following:

  • Bank overdrafts
  • Tax liabilities
  • Credit card dues
  • Mortgages
  • Personal loans
  • Home loans
  • Any other kind of liability like utility bills or other household expenses

 

Contributions

A little legal details here, just for quick reference: The property settlement laws, of Australian Family Law of 1975, clarifies how the property settlements are done legally. The family court considers the contributions made by each partner to their domestic life and how significant were they to the household and living of the family. Such as:

  • Financial Contributions: Examples: salary or any other form of income and/or asset contribution to the household in the form of inheritances or gifts.
  • Non-financial Contributions: Examples: Taking care of estate, children, home, helping children with homework and other academic and non-academic activities.

Other than the contributions made by the partners, the family court of Australia also considers the below mentioned factors to arrive at as non-arbitrary division of assets ratio as possible.

They are:

  • Employability of each partner: education qualification, age and employable skills etc.
  • Valuation of assets as per the current market scenario
  • Future financial commitments: medical condition and treatment, child support, child care, providing for a dependent etc.

If a spouse prefers periodical payouts as spousal maintenance, instead of full settlement, the same can be applied to family court and orders can be obtained.

Either financial settlement or spousal maintenance, whatever you are seeking, it must be done within a year of official divorce order or within two years of separation from your partner in de facto relationship.

A video clip below explains the financial and property settlement in Australia:

 

inancial agreements are practical alternative to financial settlement orders that are issued by court. Financial agreements are done with consent by both the partners on amicable terms. Consent Orders from court must be applied for, to bring the agreement to implementation.

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