Today I wish to discuss property division and what things the Court takes into consideration when making its decision.
The first thing to ascertain is the asset pool. In other words, one needs to identify all the assets (and their value) of both parties. Generally, all assets must be taken into account, whether they were obtained before or during the marriage, or even after separation.
The definition of “property” is very wide and includes everything that you and your spouse own either jointly or separately. For example, any real estate, shares, motor vehicles, jewellery, savings and household contents/furniture whether registered in your name solely or in both names.
It is also necessary to take into account ‘financial resources’ such as superannuation entitlements, interests in any trusts, long service leave entitlements, personal injuries claims etc.
The Court also looks at each parties contribution towards acquiring, increasing, maintain or improving any asset. Both financial and non-financial contributions are considered. For example, if one party has been running and looking after the household and caring for the children whilst the other spouse has been working fulltime and earning income, the non-working spouse is deemed to have made a contribution as a homemaker and parent and their non-financial contribution is taken into account. Initial contributions towards the marriage such as who brought what assets into the marriage as well as gifts and inheritances are also relevant.
In deciding who gets what, the Court also has regard to the future needs of both parties taking into account a wide range of things such as each parties age, health, income earning capacity, if they have the care of any children etc etc.
The law governing the division of assets is very complex and therefore, you should obtain legal advice before making any agreement with your spouse.