Once you separate, you will need to reach an agreement as to how you will divide your assets (property) and debts. There are two main ways you and your former spouse or de facto partner can agree on how your property will be divided;
- if you are able to reach an agreement you can formalise your agreement by applying for Consent Orders in the Family Court; or
- if you are unable to reach an agreement you can apply to the court for financial orders, including orders relating to the division of property and if necessary payment of spouse or de facto partner maintenance.
The Family Law Act sets out the general principles the court will take into consideration when deciding financial disputes. The general principles are the same, regardless of whether you were in a marriage or a de facto relationship. They include:
- listing your assets and debts are and their value;
- direct financial contributions by each party to the marriage or de facto relationship (i.e. incomes and monetary contributions);
- indirect financial contributions by each party (i.e. gifts and inheritances);
- non-financial contributions to the marriage or de facto relationship (i.e. caring for children and homemaking); and
- your future requirements (i.e. age, health, financial resources, care of children and ability to earn).
The division of your assets and debts will depend on the individual circumstances of your family. Your settlement is likely to be different from others you may have heard about.