A property settlement is an arrangement about how you and your ex-spouse divide up your property. This can occur after separation and before divorce, or after divorce.
'Property' can be almost anything. It includes the obvious things like a house or a car or money in a bank. But it may also include less obvious things like long service leave entitlements, superannuation, potential compensation claims and debts owed to you or your ex-spouse.
How do you sort out a property settlement?
The best way to sort these issues out is to talk to you ex-spouse and reach an agreement. It is wise though to get independent legal advice before you do that, so you know exactly what your entitlements and obligations are.
What happens if you reach an agreement?
If you reach an agreement with you ex-spouse it is common to get the Family Court to make a consent order that reflects what you have agreed or you can enter into a Binding Financial Agreement (BFA). The benefit of a court order or BFA is that, if your ex-spouse doesn't stick to the agreement, you can go to court to have the agreement enforced. We can draft that consent order or BFA and associated documents for you.
What happens if you don't reach an agreement?
If you don't reach an agreement with your ex-spouse we can apply to the Family Law Courts for orders to be made to determine your property settlement. The court will also encourage you to agree by organising a conference which you, you ex-spouse and your lawyers attend. (If it has been a violent relationship, or there are other reasons why you don't want to see your ex-spouse, the court can organise the conference so that you don't have to be in the same room.) A Registrar of the court also attends that conference to help the negotiations along. If that conference doesn't resolve things the case is referred to the waiting list for a trial. Because that list is long, you may have to wait for over a year until your trial takes place.
Are there time limits?
It is important to remember that if you have been divorced you only have 12 months from the date of the divorce being finalised to apply to the Family Law Courts for a property settlement.