If your relationship ends, property may be divided between you and your partner by:
- using a family dispute resolution service to help reach agreement
- going to court.
Even if you are able to reach a property settlement without going to court, it’s a good idea to get legal help before you start negotiating, and again before you sign an agreement.
Who this applies to
This section applies to people who were married and are now separated or divorced from a spouse, or have had their marriage annulled. It also applies to de facto couples, including same-sex couples, who separated after 1 March 2009.
If you are not married and you separated before 1 March 2009, you have different legal rights. Get legal advice.
What can be divided
Property includes assets (things you own) and liabilities (things you owe money on). These can be owned individually, jointly (with another person or persons), or by a family trust or family company.
- real estate, including the family home
- insurance policies
- any other assets, such as cars, furniture or jewellery
- debts, such as mortgages, loans, credit cards and personal debts.
All items may be considered in the property settlement. It does not matter:
- whose name is on the documents
- who bought an item
- who made the debt.
You should arrange valuations of all the assets of the marriage or relationship.
The family home
You do not lose your right to a share of the house or other property if you leave the house.
If one person gets the house by agreement or court order, the other will still have a right to a fair share of the assets. This may mean that the person who stays in the house buys the other’s share of the house or re-finances the mortgage into their sole name.
You may have a right to a share of the house even if the house is in a third person’s name.
As part of a property settlement, superannuation can be split so that part of the superannuation entitlements go to the other person when the policy is paid out. Superannuation can be a large asset in the division of property. The law is complicated. Get legal advice.
For more information see the Family Law Courts website.