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Poll reveals top concerns for separating couples

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Poll reveals top concerns for separating couples are real estate, money and personal effects including photographs. They have topped the list of items that are hardest to divide at the end of a relationship, according to a survey for national law firm Slater and Gordon.

Slater and Gordon today released the results of an independent survey, commissioned by the firm, of 1000 Australians aged over 18.

Respondents were asked to rank items according to how difficult they would be to divide following a separation.

Real Estate, including land, topped the list, followed by money and then personal effects such photographs. Pets, vehicles including cars and boats, and furniture followed in that order.

Slater and Gordon family lawyer Heather McKinnon said the findings were in line with her experience.

“When people start divorce proceedings, the sorts of things we see them most worried about are the house, the money, the investments, and increasingly, the superannuation,” Ms McKinnon said.

“As the process moves along, the reality that the union is really ending sets in and we often see a shift in attention towards sentimental items.“These items become symbols of the good-times in the relationship and people are desperate to hang onto them, even though in many cases to anyone else they are utterly replaceable.

”The survey also found that most had an understanding of the rights of defacto couples, with 70% believing that if a couple lived together for two years or more, the division of property after separation was governed by the same laws as married couples.

Only 41% responded that the Family Court would not take into account whether a partner had cheated or left the family home when making arrangements for child custody or property division.

Interestingly, 43% of under 30s surveyed believed that the Family Court would take these issues into account, while 49% of those aged 50-69 believed they would not.

“No-fault divorce was introduced in Australia in 1975 – so the days of the Family Court examining evidence of infidelity are long gone,” Ms McKinnon said.

“It was a monumental change. Before no-fault divorce, in order to end a marriage a person would have to prove someone was at fault and they would have to present the evidence to an often packed court room.”