Divorce… or Property Settlement?

Many people confuse the divorce process with the property settlement process. We explain the difference.

Divorce or Property Settlement?

Did you know that a Divorce Application and a Property Settlement are two separate things at law, and are often filed at different times? A divorce deals with the legal dissolution of a marriage and a property settlement deals with the distribution of shared assets.

Preparing for Divorce

Divorce is the legal end of a marriage. In Australia, we have a no fault system – this means that neither spouse has to prove that the other has done something to cause the breakdown of the marriage. The only consideration is that the marriage is over, and that there is no chance that the parties will get back together.

A divorce does not resolve property division, financial support, or parenting arrangements. It is simply formal recognition that the marriage is broken down.

If you have been separated for a period of 12 months, you can make an application for divorce. We offer a fixed fee package to help you in this process.

When preparing for your first appointment with one of our lawyers, regarding applying for a divorce, the following items are helpful but not essential:

  1. Bring a copy of your Marriage Certificate from Births Deaths and Marriages – if you don’t have one we can assist with obtaining this;
  2. Know the date (or approximate date) that you separated;
  3. Know the date (or approximate date) that you started living apart;
  4. If you remained living under one roof, please be ready to provide details of a person you can call on to verify that your marriage broke down more than 12 months ago;
  5. Bring your health care card or concession card if you hold one.

Property Settlement

Property settlement refers to how assets are divided in the event of a breakdown in a relationship. Property settlement can occur in a number of ways – by informal agreement, a binding financial agreement, consent order or as ordered by a court following a hearing.

Property can include almost anything of value, including real estate, superannuation, businesses, digital assets and family pets. Liabilities are also considered. For more information, visit our Financial & Property services page.

A Property settlement is a separate application to a Divorce. Unlike a Divorce Application, you do not need to wait 12 months to apply, and we recommend taking advice on a proposed property settlement early in your separation.

If you are making an appointment to discuss a property settlement with one of our lawyers, the following items are helpful:

  1. The current bank account balances for all known bank accounts;
  2. A redbook appraisal for all cars, and a current balance for any car loans;
  3. Details of your annual or weekly taxable income;
  4. An estimated value for all real estate owned;
  5. Current Superannuation balance(s);
  6. A list of any other valuable assets or liabilities (motorbike, caravan, shares etc);
  7. Evidence of inheritances or windfalls received during the relationship;
  8. Evidence or information about the assets or liabilities you each owned at the commencement of the relationship.  

Try our online family law questionnaire

Ready to make a start? You’ve come to the right place. Our online system allows you to get started anywhere, any time. We use Artificial Intelligence to give you information that is:

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We can also assemble your complete relationship history online, which will help us reduce costs if you book in for an appointment.

You can start your matter online

Tailored advice each step of the way

Why choose our family lawyers?

Family law cases are dynamic and diverse, and require personalised advice and attention. Our family lawyers will provide you with tailored advice each step of the way.

Our family lawyers have dealt with a wide variety of complex family law issues, including matters involving:-

  • Separation where one or both parties owned a business
  • Family violence, including coercive and controlling abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse
  • Large property pools with complex assets
  • Hair follicle, urinalysis, and blood testing, for drugs of abuse, excessive alcohol consumption, and performance enhancing drugs such as steroids
  • Parenting after separation and behaviour change courses
  • DNA testing for parentage
  • Recovery orders
  • Separation where the parties have significantly different earning capacities.
  • Relocation, within Australia and abroad
  • Grandparents and non-parent carers
  • Children and parents with special needs and/or mental health issues

Contact us to talk to one of our friendly family lawyers today.

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