Property Settlement in Family Law

Posted 24th May 2017 by Dirk Klicker

My name is Kirsten Hatwell and I am a solicitor with Beacon Family Law.

So Kirsten what is your video blog about today?

My video blog today will focus on property settlement in family law in the Family Court of Western Australia.

Kirsten how does the Family Court compare cases?

Each case before the Court is different.

The cases are all assessed based on their own merits.

So it is best to get advice from an experienced family lawyer.

How does the Family Court of Western Australia work out what is a fair property settlement?

The Family Court of Western Australia usually takes a four step approach.

The first step being that they will identify and value the assets, liabilities and financial resources of the parties.

The Court will then consider the contributions of both parties.

The Court will consider the section 75(2) factors, which is the future needs of the parties.

Then the Court will look at whether the final property settlement is just and equitable.

So Kirsten how does the court assess the parties’ contributions?

The Court will look at both financial and non-financial contributions of both parties.

There is no mathematical formula so there is no rule that the contributions will be assessed 50/50.

The Court does not take a microscopic approach.

Each Judge will look at the contributions on a case by case basis.

Based on all the information the Court will then assess parties’ contributions on a percentage basis.

Kirsten what is the third step in the approach of the Court?

The third step is the Court assessing the Section 75(2) factors which is the future needs of the parties.

So the Court will look at will look at a variety of things.

Some for example include the age and health of the parties.  The future earning capacity of the parties.

What do you mean by just and equitable?

The Court will make a decision based on what is just and equitable.

So it will look at an outcome that is fair to both parties.

It needs to be fair for both the wife and the husband.

If the Court decides on the fourth step that it is not just and equitable having looked at the financial contributions, the non-financial contributions and the Section 75(2) factors, the Court can then decide to alter the property adjustment accordingly so that is fair for both parties.

In a nutshell the Court can change the percentage on step four, which makes the decision very discretionary.

What does the Court do once it has worked out a percentage?

Once the Court has worked out a percentage it will decide how to split the assets.

So for example one party may retain the may retain the house.

The Court may split the proceeds of sale between the parties.

The Court may then look at superannuation splits.

These assessments are very broad and the Court has a very wide discretion when it makes its decision.

If there is one house the court may look at selling the house.

And the parties may alternatively have the opportunity to buy each other out, if they want to keep the house for example.

In Australia the legislation for de facto and married couples is relatively the same there are a few minor discrepancies for de facto couples and this is an area that you will need to seek expert family law advice.

Kirsten where can you go for more information?

For more information you can visit our website at www.beaconfamilylaw.com.au.

Our website is a very handy tool.  It is very easy to read.  It was prepared by a very experienced family lawyer.

You can spend hours on the internet looking for information and advice, but you will find all of it in a very brief summary on our website.

www.familycourt.wa.gov.au.

The Family Court of Western Australia website has a ton of information on it.

It includes brochures, kits, judgements and steps on how to run your case.  And you know the information is reliable because it has been prepared by the Family Court.

Or you can go to Austlii which is at www.austlii.edu.au.

Austlii is an informative and useful tool.

It is free and readily available for the public.

You can find all legislation on the website and you can also and see judgements from the Family Court.

But most importantly because such a discretionary area of the law it is very important that you speak to an experienced family lawyer who is dealt with other matters of a similar nature.