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Divorce Process in Australia

Divorce is the legal word for the termination of a marriage. In Australia, there is no need for there to be “fault” in order for the divorce to be permitted. So even if only one partner wants out of the marriage, the court will grant a divorce order. But there is still a legal process involved that generally takes up to a year to complete.

Issues related to Divorce Process in Australia are covered in Part VI of  The Family Law Act, 1975 (link to the law). The law says that a divorce order is based on “the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably”.

Step One: Separation

Before one or both partners may file for divorce in Australia, they must be separated for a period of one year and a day. This is in order to show that the ground for divorce – the breakdown of the marriage – really exists. While no-fault must be shown, the law considers divorce a serious matter. By requiring this long period of separation, a couple is required to think very carefully about their decision to terminate their marriage. A court may ask for proof of the separation during the hearing (to be discussed further).

It is important that one partner officially notify the other that he or she wishes to separate. This can be done verbally but a written notification is even better and can be used in court in the event that questions arise about the date of separation or whether it happened at all.

Step Two: Completing an Application for Divorce

One or both partners must fill out a standard Application for Divorce. This form may be found on the Family Law Courts website.  It requires a good deal of information, including personal details about each partner, financial information, questions about a property, and details about your children (if you have any) and custody arrangement if they are under 18 years of age.

While this application can be completed without a lawyer (other than the affidavit in Part G), it’s useful to consult with a lawyer to be sure that you’ve completed the application properly and accurately.

Step Three: Submitting the Divorce Application for Divorce

You must file the Application for Divorce in three copies – an original and two copies, along with a copy of your marriage certificate and any other accompanying documents (see below). This packet can be filed at the nearest family law registry or online at www.comcourts.gov.au.

There is a fee for submitting an Application for Divorce. As of January 1, 2013, the fee is $800 but it is also possible to obtain a reduced fee.

Once everything is filed and paid for, you’ll receive a file number and a time and date for your hearing.

Step Four: Serving Your Spouse

If you filed your Application for Divorce together with your spouse, then nobody needs to have the application delivered to them.

If you are submitting the Application for Divorce alone, you need to serve your spouse with a copy of the application, the “Marriage, Families and Separation” brochure and any other documents you filed with the court (except the marriage certificate).

The Divorce Service Kit details how these documents are to be served on the other spouse. Consult with a lawyer before taking any legal action to be sure that you understand all of the implications of your actions and that delivery is done correctly.

Step Five:  The Hearing

You are not always required to attend the hearing.

If there are no children under the age of 18, neither you nor your spouse needs to attend the hearing.

If this is a sole application (not joint with your spouse) AND there is a child under 18, you must attend the hearing.

If this is a joint application, regardless of the age of the children, neither of you needs to attend the hearing.

Step Six: The Hearing

The hearing allows the judge to ask any questions regarding the Application for Divorce Process in Australia. If the judge decides on more information, he or she may schedule an additional hearing. If the judge is satisfied with the application, a divorce order is granted at the conclusion of the hearing. The order becomes final only one month later.

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Divorce Property Settlement in Australia

Divorce Property Settlement

At Mathews Family Law and Mediation Services, we have wide experience in matters related to divorce property settlement. We take the time to understand your concerns and offer the best possible solutions based on your individual situation. Our property settlement lawyers have an unrivaled reputation and can help you make an informed decision. We understand that separation is a stressful phase and assure you that we will be there for you when you need us. Reaching a mutually acceptable financial agreement in divorce can be daunting. With our bespoke service, we will approach your case to deliver a favorable financial outcome. We are driven by the zeal to ensure a fair settlement and you can count on us even for the most complex cases.

Divorce Settlement in Australia

At Mathews Family Law and Mediation Services, we have wide experience in matters related to divorce property settlement. We understand that even if your finances are separate, there is a need for a formal financial settlement. Our experienced lawyers possess the expertise and understanding to enable you to handle the financial aspects of divorce as successfully as possible. We will outline ways to reach a fair settlement so that you do not face any legal disagreements in the future. Approachable and experienced, our lawyers will help you get the results you want.

Reaching Financial Agreement in Divorce

After you have taken the decision to divorce, sorting out the financial aspects can be a complex task. There is much to consider but with the backing of our expert property settlement lawyers, you can be sure that you will be supported at every step. We take the time to understand your concerns and offer the best possible solutions based on your individual situation. Our property settlement lawyers have an unrivaled reputation and can help you make an informed decision. We understand that separation is a stressful phase and assure you that we will be there for you when you need us. Reaching a mutually acceptable financial agreement in divorce can be daunting. With our bespoke service and clear legal advice, we will approach your case to deliver a favorable financial outcome. We are driven by the zeal to ensure a fair settlement and you can count on us even for the most complex cases. We will ensure that your interests are protected and the divorce proceedings are as amicable as can be.

If you have any queries about family law property settlement, do not hesitate to book a consultation. We are here to answer any questions that you may have and will be happy to guide you through the process of a divorce property settlement.

Property Settlement Lawyers

If you have any queries about family law property settlement, do not hesitate to book a consultation. We will be happy to assist you.

Divorce Lawyers in Melbourne

Mathews Family Law and Mediation Services were established more than fourteen years ago as a boutique family law firm. Our offices are located in the inner Melbourne suburb of Toorak.

Our team of lawyers is experts in Family Law and Family Law Mediation. We have extensive experience and knowledge that allow us to provide an integrated approach to the complex range of issues faced by our clients. We are in a unique position whereby our family dispute resolution practitioners (FDRP) and mediators have also accredited family law experts; this ensures we bring a higher level of expertise to all our mediations.

Unlike many other family law firms, Mathews Family Law has a genuine commitment to alternative dispute resolution. This commitment is evident in the diverse range of dispute resolution options and services we offer that clients are unlikely to find anywhere else

Top Divorce Lawyers in Australia

We are passionate and dedicated to providing the best possible Family Law service in Melbourne. We have worked hard to gain expertise in all areas of family law, including complex international parenting and financial matters.

We can guide you through a wide range of issues related to legal separation in Australia. This commitment ensures we are at the forefront of family law developments in Melbourne. Vanessa Mathews was one of the first accredited family law specialists also to become accredited as an FDRP and Mediator. The Mathews Family Law team continues to provide professional development services for accountants, financial advisors and mental health professionals. We are vigorously committed to continuing to provide community service for a wide range of new initiatives. We provide all the personal service you expect of a boutique law firm with all the experience and knowledge you expect to find in a larger firm.

A firm with a strategic vision and the leadership to effect change in culture, strategy and business growth.

Mathews Family Law’s vision has always been to provide affordable access to the highest quality family law services and essential legal information. We have embraced the use of technology to support this goal. By using online platforms, Mathews Family Law can reach a much wider audience (including overseas), vastly improving the efficiency of our internal processes which results in a decrease in costs to our clients.

Via our website and Facebook page, we offer an extensive library of free explanatory videos, Facebook live recordings, downloadable e-books, radio interviews and blog articles. A valuable resource for those seeking detailed information on the public’s most frequently searched topics.

In 2011, MFL pioneered online divorce applications with www.divorce-online.com.au. and has since developed its web-based family law pathway. This process allows clients to enter their details online and obtain a personalized preliminary report, free of charge. Should the client engage the firm, this background information is used to prepare for the initial meeting with the client’s data automatically populated into various documents.

Other recent IT enhancements include interactive online forms, options to attend meetings, mediation and FDR via webcast, online payment portals and handy calculators.

All our clients benefit from clear, fully itemized invoices and trust statements with every interim invoice along with pre-payment of disbursements.

Although a boutique law firm, Mathews Family Law can offer the full breadth of family law services that all clients desire. Our clients are not left having to consult across multiple organizations to get the outcome they desire. Our services include the full range of family law dispute resolution services; such as negotiation, mediation, FDR and litigation.

MFL can also provide a secondary consultation role with institutional clients and allied professionals; this includes Relationships Australia, CatholicCare and CPAs/IPAs.

MFL is continually seeking to improve its services and enhance its performance. The firm’s principal, Vanessa Mathews, regularly consults with external experts to review the firm’s strategy, structure and operations and never shies away from creating new processes and adopting change.

Mathews Family Law Accreditations and Associations.

  • Accredited by the Law Institute of Victoria
  • Members of the Law Institute of Victoria, Family Law Section
  • Members of the Law Council of Australia, Family Law Specialization Advisory Committee
  • Members of Relationships Australian Family Lawyers Panel
  • Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers

FDRPs and Mediators at Mathews Family Law are:

  • Accredited by the Attorney General of Australia
  • Accredited by the National Mediation Accreditation system
  • Members of the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators
  • Members of the Resolution Institute
  • Members of the Relationships Australia ‘Access Resolve’ Property Mediation Program

Divorce Law in Australia

Divorce law in Victoria is the same as in other states in Australia (except Western Australia). The Family Law Act (1975) applies to all Australian states and territories except Western Australia. A judge deciding on a parenting or financial matter will follow the same rules, procedures and legislation to make their decision. The unification of laws across all the states (except Western Australia) means that Family Court orders obtained in one part of Australia will be enforceable anywhere else in Australia. The child support legislation also applies in Melbourne & across Australia. Intervention orders are also recognized and enforceable across state and territory borders.

Under Australian Law, you can apply for divorce after separating for at least one year. The Family Law Act (1976) instigated the ‘no-fault’ system of divorce in Australia. The only condition required is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The facts about who is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage are not relevant. If dependent children under the age of eighteen are involved, a divorce will only be granted by the court if proper arrangements have been made for their welfare. If you have any queries about divorce law in Australia, get in touch with us.

Some Common Family Law Myths

That the mother is favored in parenting matters:

There is no presumption that a mother or father is a ‘better’ parent. The child’s ‘best interests are the paramount consideration.

That same-sex parents are treated differently from opposite-sex parenting matters.

There is no sexuality-based presumption or laws that are applied to same-sex parents. Again, the child’s ‘best interests is the paramount consideration.

The children will live 50/50 with each parent

There is no ‘one size fits all’ parenting presumption. The child’s ‘best interests are the paramount consideration.

The asset pool will be divided 50/50.

There is no ‘50/50’ asset division presumption. The asset pool will be divided according to the particular circumstances of each case, including the various contributions made by each of the parties and their future needs.

I have to be divorced before I can apply for a property settlement.

No, you may apply for a property settlement any time after separation and before the divorce (and up to 12 months after divorce).

Pre-marriage agreements are not worth the paper they’re written on

‘Pre-nups’ are enforceable provided they have been prepared in accordance with the strict legislative requirements.

I don’t live with my partner full time so we are not in a de facto relationship

The amount of time you live with your partner is not the only criteria the court will consider when determining if a de facto relationship existed. A de facto relationship may be found to have existed where the parties lived with each other on a part-time basis only.

Experienced Divorce Lawyers in Melbourne Who Take Their Corporate Social Responsibility Seriously

Mathews Family Law firmly believes in its corporate social responsibility. We also believe that corporate social responsibility is best demonstrated via actions rather than words. The firm’s Principal, Vanessa Mathews, has a Degree in Social Work from Melbourne University. She is passionate about providing low-cost and pro-bono access to information and justice. Ensuring every demographic in the community is well supported and has access to expert Family Law advice.

MFL maintains four content-rich websites, with informative videos, a Family Law Library of articles and videos, online calculators, chat and applications processes, all provided free of charge. Regular Facebook Live videos, e-newsletters and other social media posts also disseminate valuable information at no cost, and through channels that are easy to access by the wider public.

We also have several other measures that provide affordable access to the firm’s services – free initial telephone consultations, reduced fixed-fee initial consultations, fixed-price services and a choice of unbundled or full-service delivery options.

MFL is involved in the LIV Referral Service and provides education to other professionals. We actively work to create a strong Family Law community, with representatives participating in the following organizations: Relationships Australia Family Lawyers Panel; LIV Specialist Committee; International Academy of Family Lawyers.

Award Winning Melbourne Family Lawyers

Mathews Family Law is a multi-award-winning family law firm operating out of the Melbourne inner suburb of Toorak. Some of the recent awards won by the firm include:

  • Winner – Boutique Family Law Firm of the year in Australia, Global Law Experts
  • Winner – Family Law Mediator of the year in Australia, Global Law Experts
  • Finalist – Law Institute of Victoria ‘Boutique Law Firm of the Year Award’
  • Recommended – Family Law Firm, Doyles Guide
  • Recommended – Family Law Mediator, Doyles Guide
  • Leading – Parenting Lawyer, Doyles Guide
  • Number One – Family Law Firm on ‘Three Best Rated’

If you are looking for Melbourne’s best family lawyers look no further than Mathews Family Law, Book a Free consultation today to start the process.

I have questions about divorce but I’m not ready to talk to a lawyer, what should I do?

For many people, meeting with a family lawyer is terrifying. Some may feel that it signifies that the marriage is truly over, others are just scared of the process, and others may still be holding out hope for reconciliation. There are many reasons why being proactive about seeking advice might be hard. The good news is, there is a great resource available to Australians who are looking for information or advice about family issues: The Family Relationship Advice Line.

While you should not depend on the Advice Line to give you legal advice, it can be a great resource for general inquiries. Advice Line staff are equipped to provide information about:

  • services to help maintain relationships
  • the family law system and family separation
  • how to develop workable post-separation parenting agreements
  • the impact of conflict on children
  • Family Relationship Centres and other dispute resolution services, including telephone services
  • other services which will help with family relationship and separation issues

Another advantage to using the Advice Line for general or initial inquiries is that your call will remain anonymous. You can feel free to pick up the phone and ask your question without having to provide any personal information.

The phone number is 1800 050 321 and is open for calls from 8 am and 8 pm Monday through Friday and from 10 am until 4 pm on Saturday.

While this is not an appropriate resource to have your legal questions, such as “will I have to pay spousal support?” answered, it is a great resource to ask general questions about the divorce process and other family issues.

Divorce – The Basics

Divorce – The Basics

Australia does not require a showing of fault in order to be granted a divorce. For instance, you do not have to show adultery, abandonment, abuse, or anything else to be eligible to apply for divorce. You simply must prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, by showing that you have lived apart with the intent to sever the relationship for twelve consecutive months.

Once you have satisfied the twelve-month separation requirement, you may file an application for divorce. You may do so individually or jointly, however should you file individually you will need to serve your ex spouse with the appropriate paperwork. After valid service of process there will be a hearing, and the court will either grant or deny your application for divorce. If the order is granted, it will automatically become effective one month after it is issued.

Divorce is fairly straightforward, and simply denotes the end of a marriage. The process is easy to follow, and the necessary forms can be found online or you can have a lawyer apply for a divorce on your behalf at www.divorce-online.com.au.

Should you anticipate that your divorce would involve more complex issues or questions related to property division, child support and maintenance, then you should contact a lawyer.

Dealing with Special Circumstances in Australian Divorce Law

The Australian family law is unique in a way that it does not require the divorce applicants to prove the fault of any partner. This is called a no-fault divorce. All that is required is that the partners have been separated for a period of 12 months and that there are no chances of their getting back together. It is also not necessary for a joint divorce application to be filed. Australian family law allows either partner or both jointly to file an application for divorce.

The court needs to be certain that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and that there is no hope for reconciliation at all. This requirement is particularly acute if the partners have been married for a period under two years. To ensure that the partners are not getting a divorce in haste, the court requires a certificate signed by a counseling agency to be filed with the divorce papers. This certificate attests that the partners have sought counseling as a means to seek reconciliation before applying for a divorce process in Australia. Similarly, if either spouse cannot be traced, the applicant can pursue the divorce application as long as they demonstrate that they have made efforts to locate the untraceable spouse.

Usually, the divorce proceedings do not take much time if there are no minor children involved. However, if the custody of children under 18 is an issue, then the applicants need to demonstrate that they have made adequate arrangements for the care of their children after the divorce. More so, unless a joint application is made by both partners, the applicant needs to be present at the hearing if there are children under 18 involved.

If either partner wishes to oppose an application of divorce filed by the spouse, he or she may file a response to the divorce application or a response to the jurisdiction if they feel that the divorce has not been filed in the right jurisdiction.

How to File an Online Divorce Application Form

Many people find it more convenient to fill out electronic forms compared to a hard copy. The Australian family law accepts divorce applications that are submitted electronically. Applicants can fill out a form for filing for divorce online and submit it through the electronic portal along with the fee and the necessary accompanying documents.

The online submission process has been made easier to facilitate the applicants. For the most part, the online form has exactly the same questions as the hard copy. However, it is more convenient to fill out due to some special features. One such feature is the validation feature. This feature notifies the applicant if he or she has skipped any question before moving on to the next page. This minimise s the risks of filing an incomplete form.

Secondly, the online form only presents questions that are relevant to the applicant. This saves a lot of time that would otherwise have been spent in going over every question on the form. The online form also provides pointers i.e. information to help the applicant provide complete and accurate responses.

The applicant can easily save the completed divorce application in the form of a PDF file on computer. The applicant can then submit the form electronically through the web portal of the Commonwealth Courts. Some of the necessary document can also be filed electronically. At the same time, the form is also saved automatically on a separate database from where it is automatically deleted after two months.

No separate charges are applied on filing the divorce application electronically. Only the standard prescribed fee for filing an application for divorce needs to be paid by the applicant. All efforts have been taken to make the process of filling out and submitting the online application smooth and hassle-free. However, the family law registry is open to provide a complete divorce kit that answers any particular queries and problems experienced by the applicants.

What Does a Divorce Kit Contain?

The divorce kit provides all the information that an applicant needs to file for divorce in Australia. The divorce kit outlines the steps one needs to take to apply for a divorce. It also provides the application form to be filled in by the applicant. There is no standard format of the divorce kit as it is provided in a number of different formats. The applicant can choose the one that best suits their needs after consultation with a divorce lawyer.

The divorce kit also provides an online version of the application form that needs to be printed out after it has been filled in by the applicant and then submitted to the Federal Magistrates Court. The Federal Magistrates Court Rules provide that the application form be printed on one side of the sheet only. The kit also specifies the fees that the applicant needs to pay at the time they submit the application form with the Federal Magistrates Court. The kit also specifies the instances where the applicant may be entitled to a reduction in the divorce fee. The law allows for the payment to be made in cash as well as via cheques, money orders and credit card.

In addition to the above, the divorce kit also contains information about the process to be followed during court hearings and how the outcome of the application is being determined. Applicants can use the application form to fill in details of up to four children. Applicants who have more than four children can use the special attachment form that comes with the divorce kit. Finally, the online application form can also be submitted electronically through the portal of the Commonwealth Courts. The divorce kit is an indispensable tool for divorce applicants and may be the best source of information on how to get a divorce in Australia.

The divorce process demystified

Transcript

Hi, I’m Vanessa Mathews from Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists. Today I want to discuss a number of issues related to divorce.

I want to stress that these issues are best handled by a lawyer. I would encourage you to talk with a lawyer and to read more about these issues on our website before you take any steps on your own.

Divorce, according to Australian law, is the end of a legal marriage. That is, it’s a change in status for those in the couple. From a legal angle, it only involves those two people, not their children, not their property or the financial obligations they might have.

While all of those factors are affected by divorce, divorce itself is a fairly straightforward matter in Australia. Also, at least for now in Australia, legal divorce can only happen between a man and a woman. That’s because marriage in Australia is only legally recognised between a man and a woman.

Other couples, like same sex couples or couples who had been living together for a long time but chose not to get married, may be recognised as what’s called de facto couples. They may have many of the same rights as a married couple. But, if they choose to end their relationship they do not have to go through the process of divorce.

Divorce in Australia is no fault. This means that there doesn’t have to be a reason given for the divorce. If even one person wants to end the marriage, to get a divorce they have the legal right to end it.

There are, however, a number of conditions that need to be met before a couple can get divorced. You must be separated from each other for at least 12 months and 1 day. The court may even ask for proof that you were separated for this period of time before granting the divorce.

While generally separation means living apart from one another there are cases where a couple is considered separated even though they live in the same home. But, in this case the burden of proof is even greater, and there are a number of conditions that must be met.

So, if you are separated but living together in the same house, make sure you meet those other requirements. They include not having sexual relations, living in separate rooms, not attending social functions together, and not providing household services to each other like cooking and laundry. This shows the court that you really have ended your relationship. You can read more about this on our website.

Once you’re separated for a year and one day you can fill out an application for divorce. The application mostly asks about personal details like name, addresses, details about children, and the marriage and separation date. But, it also asks if there are other outstanding family issues in the court like property division, and this information needs to be listed.

The application must be signed in front of a lawyer, or justice of the peace, or someone else who can witness a document. Then, it’s filed with the court along with two copies and a copy of your marriage certificate. There is also a fee that you’ll need to pay when you file the application.

If you both wanted the divorce and both filled out the application then you’ll each get a copy from the court and wait for a hearing date. If only you filed the application then you have to serve the application on your spouse which means that your spouse has to get a copy of the application. Generally, a spouse is served by sending by registered mail. Your spouse can receive the application personally by hand, but you may not bring it to him or her. Someone else over the age of 18 has to serve him or her by hand.

Now, again, Australia has no fault divorce, so if one person wants the divorce there isn’t much the other spouse can do to prevent it. But, once the other spouse has the application he or she can fight the divorce by filing what’s called a response to divorce and claiming there wasn’t a separation of 12 months and 1 day or by arguing that the particular court doesn’t have the right to hear this case. Then, the case will have to be heard by the court.

But, assuming the other partner doesn’t fight the application, you will have a hearing at the court to just verify the facts of the case. The law doesn’t require everyone to attend the hearing, but you do have to go to court if you have children under 18 and only one of you apply for the divorce. If you filed a response to divorce you should probably go to the court since the judge will want to hear from you.

Now, I want to talk a bit about what happens in court. This is often scary for people, partly because just the idea of being in court is frightening and also because of the emotional side of divorce. But, it’s just a formal procedure where the judge or the registrar reviews the application. He checks that everything written is correct. The judge might ask you or your spouse some questions, too. If you have children, the judge will also want to know that everything is arranged for them, things like where they’ll live and how they’ll be supported.

Once everything is clear to the court they’ll announce that the divorce is complete and the marriage has ended. You’ll get a divorce order from the court through the mail, and this is proof of the divorce. The divorce is actually final only one month and one day from the date of the hearing. Only at that point, one month and one day, can you remarry.

You can find the application for divorce on the Internet, but we recommend you speak to a lawyer to be sure you haven’t missed out anything and to make sure you know all of your rights. You may also like to visit our online divorce service, onlinedivorce.com.au.

Thank you for watching this video. I’m Vanessa Mathews from Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists.

Dividing The Property In Australia

 Transcript

Hi, I’m Vanessa Mathews for Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists, and I’m going to be talking about property distribution today. Property distribution is about how the assets and liabilities of the marriage or de facto relationship are divided.

Assets are the things of value that you own, like, a home, a car, a bank account, investments, savings, superannuation, and furniture. Liabilities are the things you owe to others, like, a mortgage or a loan or even credit card debt.

For the most part, when it comes to questions of property and property division, de facto couples have the same rights and obligations as married couples. But some of the laws are different for de facto couples, depending on the state or territory they’re living. So you should always get professional legal advice to be sure how the law applies to your particular situation.

When a couple splits up, if they are married or if they’re in a de facto relationship, all of their property, both the assets and the liabilities, have to be divided between them. That is, they have to decide who owns what and who owes what.

When people come to me for help, I often hear things, like, ‘I don’t have to give him anything. I earn all the money, so it’s all mine.’ Or ‘She spent so much of our money over the years, she doesn’t deserve anything.’ Well, the law doesn’t work on emotions, but instead on the assumption that both people contributed to the marriage, perhaps in different ways, but both worked for the benefit of the shared union.

Now, some couples divide their property by themselves or with help from friends or professionals. If you choose to work it out just between the two of you, you can decide to split your property however you like. Generally, if you work with lawyers or through mediation, you have to follow the same four step process the court uses, which I’ll discuss later on.

You can also do this property division at any time, before you’re married and this is called a prenuptial agreement or even after you are married or when you’re in the process of divorcing.

Once you come to an agreement and sign this document, you can submit it to the court by applying for a Consent Order, if you want to, but you don’t have to. The court will allow you to make your own decisions, but will want to know that each of you had professional advice when you made the agreement, so that one side is not being duped or misunderstood something.

A Consent Order means your agreement has the strength of a court decision. So if one side breaches or goes against the agreement, you can take action against them immediately, without having to first sue, and get a court verdict.

If you can’t work out the property issues on your own, you can go to the court and let a judge decide for you. The law has a very logical approach to dividing up the property, which is the four step process I mentioned earlier. The first step is to figure out what actually are the martial assets and debts. You can start out by putting everything together, the house, cars, mortgage, loan, furniture, and calling that your property. If the couple has been together for only a short time, the court might remove certain things from the pile of matrimonial property. These are things that belonged to each individual before they married or started their de facto relationship.
So if you brought a car or a house to the marriage, and then you got divorced, the car would be yours. In the same way, if you came with a mortgage to the marriage, that debt is still yours if you get divorced.

But if you’re married for say, 10 or 15 or 20 years, a court, if it goes to court, will probably consider most of your joint marital property. And despite the rules in other countries, even property one partner may have inherited during the marriage or de facto relationship, is still considered joint martial property.

The second step of this four step process is to consider the contributions each side made to the marriage. There are two types of contributions partners can make. One is clear financial contributions, like, salaries, other types of income, inheritance, actual money or some type of physical property. But there are also non-financial contributions. For example, if one parent stayed home to take care of the children, they’ve contributed by saving money on daycare and enabling the other spouse to develop professionally and earn more. And by simply helping the family unit develop.

The next step is to consider the future needs of each partner. If the couple is older, and one partner never worked outside the home, the court will take into consideration that he or she may need more of the joint property, since they are less able to now go out and find a job. On the other hand, the court will also note that there are no small children, the mortgage is paid off, and there are no large expenses to be paid. So the financial needs are smaller than they once were.

If both people are young professionals with a good future outlook, the court will take that into consideration too. Also, does one partner still have to stay home to care for the children for an extended period of time, leaving them with less income? The court will also look at the health of each person. The one thing the court does not consider is whose fault is it, that the marriage or de facto relationship ended.

Australia has a no-fault divorce, meaning there does not have to be a reason or cause for the divorce, other than one side asking for it. So blame has no impact on property.

The fourth and final step is for the court to take all of this into consideration and make a just and equitable division of the property. That is, the court will split up the assets and the liabilities in a way that gives each partner what he or she needs and deserves. Just and equitable doesn’t mean everything will be split evenly and each person gets 50 percent. When the court decides who gets what and who pays what, the court will explain how this process will work.

So if the superannuation needs to be split, but the side can only get money in ten years, the judge will need to decide what happens in ten years or if there is a house and its value needs to be split between the two sides, the judge will decide if it should be sold, and the money from the sale divided or if one person will pay the other person his or her share, or if one person keeps the house and the other gets some other property of equal value.

A few suggestions I would make, when you begin thinking about dividing your property, make sure that as you create a list of your assets and liabilities, you don’t overlook anything significant. For example, people often forget superannuation or other retirement plans.

If you’re thinking about separating or if you’re in the process, and the need to be plain for how you’re going to deal with your property, start gathering documents, like, financial statements, tax returns, mutual fund statements, bank statements, check account statements. Make copies if you can, and keep them in a safe place.

If you have questions about property distribution or any of the issues related to divorce and separation, please visit our website, and feel free to call me to set up an appointment. I’m Vanessa Mathews from Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists.

How To Own Reconciliation And Resumption Of Cohabitation

Reconciliation and resumption of cohabitation can have a monumental effect on your divorce proceedings. A reconciliation will affect your date of separation, which in turn can affect property division and other aspects of your case. The impact of reconciliation combined with the attitude that the courts generally prefer parties to reconcile has resulted in some special rules with regard to reconciliation and resumption of cohabitation.

First, with regard to reconciliation, if the court determines that based on the evidence or attitude of the parties, a reasonable possibility of reconciliation exists, the court has the power to suspend the proceedings. This adjournment is designed to allow the parties the time and opportunity to consider reconciliation. However, if either party wishes to resume court proceedings, the court is compelled to grant this request.

Moving back in together, more specifically, resumption of cohabitation can also have a huge impact on your divorce proceedings. If your resume cohabiting, and then later agree to separate again, the period of time you had previously been separated may not apply when trying to meet the twelve-month separation requirement for divorce.

Now you may be wondering – what exactly equates to a resumption of cohabitation? The answer is that both parties must intend to resume cohabiting, act on that intention, and also be living on substantially the same terms as they were prior to the separation. An agreement to move back in together that never comes to fruition does not meet this standard. Also, simply moving in under the same roof but not resuming other aspects of the marital relationship will not equate to a resumption of cohabitation.

If you are considering moving back in with your ex, you should be aware of the special rules regarding the resumption of cohabitation. As we mentioned earlier, the court has a preference for parties to make amends, and they would prefer parties at least attempt reconciliation if there is a chance it might work rather than be too afraid to try because of the impact that reconciliation can have on the divorce proceedings. For this very reason, the court allows parties to move back in together for one period of time up to three months without there being any prejudice to their application for the divorce process in Australia.

Practically speaking, if you resume cohabiting and then separate again within three months, you may use the period of time you were previously separated in calculating the twelve-month requirement. On the other hand, if your resumption of cohabitation lasts for three months or longer, you will have to separate for a further twelve months before you can file for divorce.

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Vanessa Mathews
Managing Director FDRP and Mediator
BCOMM BSW LLB

Accredited Family Law Specialist, FDRP,
Mediator and Parenting Coordinator

Vanessa Mathews is the founder and managing director of Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists, and has the rare combination of social work qualifications and experience, combined with nearly 20 years’ experience as a lawyer and mediator; it makes her approach to resolving legal relationship issues both sensible and sensitive.

She is a fully accredited family law specialist, mediator, family dispute resolution practitioner and parenting coordinator with a commerce degree – adding a financially astute aspect to her practice.

Vanessa has extensive experience in complex issues that arise from relationship breakdown, and works in partnership with her clients,
who regularly describe her as empathetic

Vanessa is an active member of the family law profession and
a member of the:

  •  Law Institute of Victoria, Family Law Section
  •  Law Council of Australia, Family Law Section
  •  Resolution Institute
  •  Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators
  • National Mediation Accreditation System
  •  Relationships Australia Family Lawyers Panel
  • Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers
  •  Relationships Australia / Federal Circuit Court ‘Access Resolve’ Mediation Service
  • Relationships Australia ‘Property Mediation’ Service

Vanessa and Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists
are regularly recognised as a ‘Leading Victorian Family
Lawyer’, ‘Recommended Family Law Mediator’ and a
‘Leading Victorian Family Law Firm’ by Doyle’s Guide to
the Australian Legal Profession.

Get Started With Vanessa

Book A Free Consult

Vanessa Mathews
Managing Director FDRP and Mediator
BCOMM BSW LLB

Accredited Family Law Specialist, FDRP,
Mediator and Parenting Coordinator

Vanessa Mathews is the founder and managing director of Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists, and has the rare combination of social work qualifications and experience, combined with nearly 20 years’ experience as a lawyer and mediator; it makes her approach to resolving legal relationship issues both sensible and sensitive.

She is a fully accredited family law specialist, mediator, family dispute resolution practitioner and parenting coordinator with a commerce degree – adding a financially astute aspect to her practice.

Vanessa has extensive experience in complex issues that arise from relationship breakdown, and works in partnership with her clients,
who regularly describe her as empathetic

Vanessa is an active member of the family law profession and
a member of the:

  •  Law Institute of Victoria, Family Law Section
  •  Law Council of Australia, Family Law Section
  •  Resolution Institute
  •  Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators
  • National Mediation Accreditation System
  •  Relationships Australia Family Lawyers Panel
  • Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers
  •  Relationships Australia / Federal Circuit Court ‘Access Resolve’ Mediation Service
  • Relationships Australia ‘Property Mediation’ Service

Vanessa and Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists
are regularly recognised as a ‘Leading Victorian Family
Lawyer’, ‘Recommended Family Law Mediator’ and a
‘Leading Victorian Family Law Firm’ by Doyle’s Guide to
the Australian Legal Profession.

Get Started With Vanessa

Book A Free Consult