Filing for divorce is not something anyone should enter into lightly. Not only can it cause a lot of emotional turmoil, but it can also wreak financial havoc on even the most stable of families. This is why it’s so important that anyone contemplating divorce understands how family law property settlements are conceived in Sydney.
Drafting family law property settlements involves a 4-step process. First, your divorce lawyer will need to determine the couple’s assets and liabilities. Once identified, each of these assets and liabilities needs to be valued. This would include any of the following items:
- Real property including any rental properties
- Cars, motorcycle, and boats
- Art and collectibles
- Cash, stocks, and bonds
- Investments and retirement accounts
- Outstanding loans, credit card bills, and other debts
- Obligations associated with maintenance of the marital home
Once all of these items have been appraised, your divorce lawyer will look at the financial and non-financial contributions each spouse made to the marriage. This is a bit harder than placing a value on the couple’s physical assets.
Identifying financial contributions is not that difficult. This would include some of the following:
- Assets brought into the marriage
- Monies received in the form of inheritance and family gifts
- Financial investments made toward any family-owned businesses and ventures
- Contributions to the education of either of the spouses such as an advanced degree
Once these contributions have been ascertained, the family law property settlement must account for non-financial contributions. These are intangible investments that either spouse has made. The reason this part of the process is so hard is that these items can be hard to put a dollar value on. They include such things as:
- the time and effort spent in being the primary childcare provider
- Work efforts toward a company business that were not recognized by an actual salary
- Working full-time so that the other spouse could go back to school
The value of both the assets and contributions will be tallied. The same thing will be done for any debts and obligations that exist at the time of the divorce filing.
The third step in the family law property settlement process is identifying the future needs of both parties. The reason this is so important is that it will impact how the court divides the marital assets and obligations. For example, if one spouse has a much lower earning potential than the other, they may be entitled to more than 50% of the marital assets. Or, the court may issue a step-down division of the assets. If the court finds that one spouse would be in a better position by keeping the marital home – perhaps so they can keep the children in the same school district – they may award that spouse with a greater percentage of the home’s value.
The things a divorce lawyer in Sydney would take into account when determining their client’s future needs include any or all of the following:
- The education level of each spouse
- Current income levels
- Mental and physical abilities when it comes to employment
- Childcare needs
Once this process has been completed, your divorce lawyer will draft a proposed family law property settlement. Your property settlement in Sydney must be fair and equitable. This brings us to the fourth step in the process.
The judge must determine and confirm that the proposed property settlement in Sydney is fair to both parties. Once this is done, the agreement will be signed and entered into the record.