A legal separation in Australia isn’t actually a legal process, it’s simply defined by when people stop living together as a couple. However, when you separate, it’s a good idea to work out a financial separation calculation and arrange a property settlement, now that you’re living separate lives.
How do you work out a financial separation calculation?
Normally after a separation, it’s fair that property is shared. Exactly how you work out a financial separation calculation can vary. The property to be divided includes all assets and debts owned by you both of you, whether it’s in your name, their name or both names. Your property settlement should outline how you’ll divide things like your home, bank accounts, investments, superannuation, vehicles, jewellery, mortgages and credit card debt.
If you and your ex-partner agree on how your property should be divided, you can make an informal agreement, however it won’t be legally binding. You can formalise your agreement by entering a legally binding financial agreement or by applying for consent orders in the Family Court.
If you and your ex-partner don’t agree on how your property should be divided, you can apply to a court for financial orders, where the court decides how assets and debts are divided based on evidence. You must make a genuine effort to resolve the matter by family dispute resolution before applying for financial orders. These are known as pre-action procedures.
What am I entitled to in a separation?
There’s no special formula to determine what property you are entitled to when you separate. However, if you proceed to court, a judicial officer will decide what is just and equitable based on the unique facts of your case. They will consider for you and your ex-partner:
- What you've got, what it’s worth and what you owe
- Your direct financial contributions to the relationship such as wage and salary earnings
- Your indirect financial contributions to the relationship such as gifts and inheritances from families
- Non-financial contributions to your relationship such as caring for children and homemaking
- Future requirements, factoring in your age, health, financial resources, care of children and ability to earn
What am I entitled to in a divorce settlement?
Again, the property settlement is calculated the same even if it happens after a divorce.
How is a divorce settlement calculated?
Your property settlement is calculated the same way even if it happens after your divorce. Although many couples work out a property settlement when they separate, you have until one year from the date your divorce order has taken effect to apply for a property settlement.
Who is involved in a financial separation?
As part of your property settlement, you may need to engage with:
- Court officers
- Accountants to investigate the total value of the asset pool, complicated structures and asset protection schemes
- Non-confrontational alternative dispute resolution (ADR) specialists such as mediators or arbitrators