Why You Need a Divorce Lawyer to Help With Your Property Settlement

Although a divorce and a property settlement are not the same thing, divorce lawyers in Sydney will be able to help you to deal with both processes. Property settlements are often the most contentious aspect to a divorce, and you will need a good solicitor to help get you a positive outcome.

While a divorce requires a year’s separation before it can be finalised, a property settlement can be negotiated as soon as the couple decide to split up. In fact, it is often best to sort out the settlement before the divorce is finalised, if only to allow the whole process to end quickly.

The steps for dividing property when a couple separate are complicated, and the process needs to be followed whether the partners were married, in a registered relationship or in a de facto relationship.

De facto relationships are the most complicated, because it is generally harder to establish the financial interdependence of the parties involved – and sometimes the mere existence of a relationship is disputed.

Dispute

Even if the relationship was not a legal marriage, a divorce lawyer like the Norton Law Group will still be able to help with the property settlement.

The steps for the division of an estate can be very convoluted. Unless the couple agree to a split on their own, which is very rare and almost always ends in one partner worse off than they would have been if they had a lawyer, legal experts will be required to assess the situation.

Assets & Liabilities

The first step is to simply establish the assets and liabilities held by each partner, as well as joint assets. This step is a lot harder than it sounds, as the wealthier partner will often try to hide some of their money to get out of having to share all of it.

If one party is not cooperating, a forensic accountant might be needed to help to unravel complex financial structures. The cost of this will likely be recouped by a court order from the assets awarded to the party that is being deliberately obstructive.

Once it is clear what assets and liabilities are on the table, contributions by each partner are assessed. This is not just the amount of money earned by each partner. Indirect contributions such as housekeeping and childcare are also considered, and are often determined to have been at least as valuable as income.

Assets brought into the marriage and legacies that would have been left to only one member of the couple are also accounted for.

The future

Next the future needs of each former partner will be considered. If one partner has a clearly higher earning potential than the other, they will be considered to have lower future needs and support. This is particularly true when one spouse has been responsible for childcare and housekeeping while the other has worked.

If there are children of the relationship, the parent with primary custody will also be judged to have greater needs in terms of money to support the children, as well as lower earning potential due to parenting responsibilities.

The age and health of each party will also factor into the future needs calculation, as will the support available to them from family. There have even been cases where one spouse has been judged to have lower future needs due to the expected size of their inheritance.

If one spouse has entered a new serious relationship by the time the settlement is finalised, this will also affect the property division – and most divorce lawyers in Sydney have seen cases where spouses have tried to hide new relationships.

After the size of the asset pool, the contributions by each party and the future needs of each spouse have been analysed, a fair division needs to be worked out. This is almost never an even split.

Reality

In reality, when a marriage ends the woman will usually get the lion’s share of the assets in the property division. This is largely because women are usually the primary caregiver for children, and men have greater earning power because they can focus on work while their wife does the housekeeping and childcare.

There have been cases where these gender roles have been reverses, and in these situations the man has come out of negotiations with the largest asset share.

If the couple reach an agreement without court intervention, it still needs to be approved by a judge. In cases where one party is clearly not getting a fair share, judges have been known to overturn agreements and order a more equitable division.

Because of the complexity of property settlements, and the many stages at which one spouse can hide information from the other, it is important to find a family law firm with good divorce lawyers in Sydney to help you with the process.

Key ways a family lawyer can help with your property settlement

Tying up financial matters is a key part of divorce proceedings or when a de facto relationship has ended. It can sometimes be one of the most unpleasant factors of a divorce. If you live in Sydney or the surrounding suburbs, and are currently facing this issue, family lawyers in Sydney will be able to help you through this process and help it be as painless as possible.

Make sure you are looking for family lawyers in Sydney, rather than too far away from where you work or reside.  Any unforeseen events or new information that may arise may mean that you will need to have an urgent meeting. To make the process hassle-free, going with a local family lawyer will help lessen any stress.

Here are key areas of advice a family lawyer can help you with and resolve your property settlement issues.

What falls under the umbrella of a property settlement

Property settlements are more than just the home. It can involve the split or transfer of investment properties, commercial properties, savings, and vehicles.

Your legal representation should be able to tell you what you are entitled to and what the process might be for any property assets you currently own. Typical outcomes can include the property be sold and any profits divided between each person. Another outcome could be that one person gets to keep the property and the other person is provided monetary compensation for their half.

How a property settlement is formalised

 Your lawyer will explain to you how your property settlement agreement can be legally agreed upon. Two key ways in which a property settlement can be legally recorded is through a consent order or a biding financial agreement.

A consent order is an order that is made by the court and demonstrates that both people involved in the proceedings agree to a particular contract. A binding financial agreement is one that is drafted up by each party.

In either option, the way a property settlement is legally recorded will vary and each have its own pros and cons. Each divorce or relationship breakdown scenario will be different. Your lawyer will be able to help advise which agreement is best suited to your situation.

The importance to legally bind your property settlement

Even if a split is amicable, it is still important to ensure that your property settlement is legally sound. Even thought things can seem ok now, the nature of a split is that sometimes attitudes and priorities change. Protect yourself from any added cost and stress in the future by ensuring your agreement is legally recorded.

Your legal professional will be able to explain to you in detail about the other reasons why it’s important to legally bind your property settlement including its enforceability or your protection from any future property settlement claims.

The importance of settling property straight after the separation

There are many amicable separations and this can lead to the two parties leaving property settlement issues for a later date. Many people see this as a tension fuelled discussion, so if two people are on good terms with each other they may be reluctant to “rock the boat”.

However, if a property settlement is delayed, it leaves both parties open to claims being made against each other in the future. For example, you might purchase a new property post your divorce or separation. This newly acquired property may still be classified as part of the property you both share, and therefore, your former partner could be entitled to their part of it if they decide to make a claim.

Also, if your former partner sells any assets before a legal agreement is made then the property and assets shared is then reduced. So, when you do eventually decide to make an agreement, you will then get less than what you would have if you did it straight after your separation.

As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to get advice from a family lawyer regarding any property settlement concerns you might have. They can tell you what assets are dealt with under a property settlement, how it is formalised and legalised, and why it’s important to do it sooner rather than later.