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What is property?
Property issues in Family Law are those involving the division of assets and liabilities after separation. They are also referred to as financial matters.
Under Family Law, ‘property’ includes many things, not just cash and houses. If you have a family business, a trust, investments, an entitlement to be paid, superannuation or even a pension entitlement it is likely to be defined as ‘property’. ‘Property’ also includes money you owe and any other liabilities of the relationship.
Superannuation is included in property distribution, but is not necessarily treated the same way as other property.
How is property divided?
All property will be included for consideration in the financial distribution after separation.
It is important to divide your property legally. You might divide property by informal agreement, but if you don’t do this according to the Family Law Act and your former partner later pursues a further share of the property, you could be in for a nasty surprise.
It’s not just about what you own and owe; it’s about what you’ve contributed. The roles you had during your relationship and who has made what contributions are factors that will be considered when dividing up your property. What each of you is likely to need in the future is also taken into account. Relevant factors are whether there are any children under 18 and who they will live with, and the age, state of health and earning capacity of each party.
It is very important that you tell the truth about what you own, to each other and to the court. This is called ‘full and frank disclosure’. If you don’t you could end up transferring a lot more to your former partner as a result.
It is important not to spend or conceal large sums of money or destroy property in an attempt to minimise the amount your former partner will get. This is likely to backfire and may be deducted from the property that you receive in the distribution.