Four Important Facts You Need to Know About Settlement

Courtney Barton 1. What is a Property Settlement?

When a marriage or a de facto relationship ends, the parties should always finalise their financial ties with one another.  This may involve the transfer of ownership of real estate, cash, superannuation or other property from one party to another.  For example, if the matrimonial home is in joint names the parties may agree that the house be sold and the proceeds divided. Alternatively, the parties may agree that one party receives the house and makes a cash payment of some nature to the other party to ‘buy out’ their interest.

When you are separating, it is important to obtain legal advice from a Solicitor specialising in family law, in order to determine your entitlements.

2. How do I formalise our property settlement?

Any agreement reached between you and your former partner should always be formalised (recorded legally).

There are two ways of recording a property settlement agreement between two separated parties:

  1. A Consent Order; or a
  2. Binding Financial Agreement.

A Consent Order is an Order which both parties have agreed to and the Family Court approves before making the Order, to ensure it is just and equitable.

A Binding Financial Agreement is an agreement between parties which has not been scrutinised by a Court to ensure it is just and equitable however the parties must consult with a Solicitor to make the agreement valid.

You should talk to your Solicitor about which form of agreement is right for you.

3. Why is it important to formalise your property settlement?

There are several reasons:

  • A Consent Order & Binding Financial Agreement are legally binding. This means that if the other party does not comply with the agreement, you have recourse to the Court to enforce compliance of the agreement.
  •  It finalises your financial relationship with your former partner. This means that your former partner cannot make a further property settlement claim against you.

4. Why is it important to do your property settlement promptly after you separate?

If you do not finalise your property settlement promptly after separation, this means your financial ties with one another have not been severed and you leave yourself open to a property settlement claim being made against you in the future, subject to relevant time limitations.

The value of the asset pool is not the date of separation it is when you make an agreement or when a Judge determines your matter.

This means that if your super interest increases, or you acquire a new asset or you improve the value of an asset post separation, but prior to a property settlement, it forms part of the property pool to be split between you and your former partner.

You should not leave yourself open to your improved superannuation entitlements,  or assets acquired/improved by you post separation,  forming part of your  property settlement.

Alternatively, if your former partner sells an asset or wastes away funds in the property pool, post separation, and applies the income for his/her own benefit, the property pool is reduced therefore reducing your entitlements. This is because the Court cannot deal with assets that no longer exist.

The only caveat to the above is that the Court has discretion to take into account financial contributions of the parties or wastage of matrimonial assets post separation.

It  is in your interests to formalise your property settlement sooner rather than later so that you can re-establish your financial position without a potential property settlement application hanging over your head in the future depending on time limitations.

Posting on Social Media

Posting on Social MediaA couple of weeks ago, there was a great article published online titled “Tips for parents: To post or not to post?” The article provided a number of tips for parents, relatives and friends regarding the posting of photos of children on social media.

Tip #1 ASK FIRST, POST LATER – this one is more relevant for friends or relatives of the parent of the child. If you have a photo of someone else’s child that could be at a birthday party, school event etc, it is probably best to ask the parent first before posting and tagging them and uploading it to social media. This could help prevent any awkward situations later on.

Tip#2 LIMIT AUDIENCES – by updating your privacy settings on Facebook and Instagram you can limit and or customise the audience who would be able to see the photo/s posted.

Tip#3 TALK TO YOUR KIDS – when your children are of an age where you think they are able to understand the concept of blogging or posting online, speak with them about it and what you are wanting to post. It is important that they know what others will be reading about them or seeing online. If your children are older, ask their permission before posting.

Tip#4 TRY THE OLD-FASHIONED ROUTE – why not have your photos printed and send them the old-fashioned way via post. There are also a number of online folder sharing options that are good for sending photos/documents to family and friends as well such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

Tip#5 DON’T EMBARRASS THEM – the photos that you may find hilarious and amusing at home, in a personal family environment, may not be appropriate to be posted online. Remember that unless you have the correct privacy settings activated on your accounts the photos are opened to a wide audience and you cannot be certain as to who may also be viewing your account. Your children want to know that what is being posted isn’t going to embarrass them in social / family situations now and in the future.

How To Have A Happy Family – 7 Tips Backed By Research

How to have a happy familyA recent article published in TIME magazine provides 7 tips on how to have a happy family. Each tip is backed by research. You can read about each item here. Below we have provided the list.

1) Having Dinner Together Matters
2) Share the Family History
3) Reduce Stress
4) Be Part Of A Larger Community
5) Use Checklists
6) Empower The Children!
7) Grandma’s Have Superpowers

If you need any assistance with a family situation, please contact our Family Lawyers today. 1300 STOLAW or visit our website stolaw.com.au.

Divorce is costing us $14 billion per year

DivorceA recent article on news.com.au has said that divorce and relationship breakdowns are now costing the country more than $14 billion dollars per year in court costs and government assistant payments. This figure is now $2 billion more than it was only two years ago.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews said they are going to examine different strategies to assist with lowering the divorce rate and look at various means to identify vulnerable children and young people.

Mr Andrews has confirmed he will complete an overhaul of the early intervention strategies to assist with strengthening Australian families.

This seems like a very important step considering almost 50,000 people get divorced each year in Australia and the rate of divorce is now on the rise again.

Read more about this article on news.com.au.

If you are experiencing a family situation, please contact our Family Law team today.stolaw.com.au or 1300 STOLAW.

What is family violence?

Family violence is when any one person in a relationship uses abuse or violence to gain and maintain control over another. It can occur in current or past family, domestic or intimate relationships. When people think of violence they think of physical injury however, violence can include direct and indirect threats, sexual assault, emotional and psychological torment, economic control, damage to property, social isolation and behaviour in which causes the other person to live in fear.

The below “Power and Control Wheel” provides an example family violence.

power and control wheel

 

Image source: http://www.womenscouncil.com.au/what-is-domestic–family-violence.html

If you need assistance regarding a family issue please contact our Family Law team today.

Online Gaming and Child Abuse

South Korean Online Gaming AddictiveThe online gaming industry in South Korea is becoming overly popular and addictive, to the point that a 22year old man was arrested for allegedly staving his 2 year old son to death.

Mr Chung was arrested after details of a two year old body was found, badly decomposed, in a rubbish bag near the city of Daegu.

The father of the boy spent most of his time at internet cafes and would go back home every two or three days to feed the boy. His wife had started working in a factory out of the city therefore, had left the unemployed husband to look after their child.

Mr Chung initially reported the child missing before confessing later that he had disposed of the body.

The police detective who has been working on the case has said that Mr Chung is likely to be charged with homicide and abandoning a body. (Source: news.com.au)

Read the full article on news.com.au.

If you need help with an addiction, there are many places that you can call with people that are willing to help, such as http://www.helplines.org.au/.

If you need assistance with a family situation, our Family Lawyers are here to helpvisit stolaw.com.au.

 

Teens and family separation

Father and SonDid you know that nearly 11,000 teenagers throughout Australia experience family separation?

When a family separates teenagers can be feeling a number of different emotions, these can include:

  • shocked
  • relieved
  • hopeful
  • angry
  • rejected
  • sad
  • confused
  • excited
  • distressed
  • scared
  • worried
  • irritable
  • happy
  • withdrawn
  • relaxed
  • insecure
  • ashamed

 

  • embarrassed
  • disappointed
  • guilty
  • loved
  • torn
  • lonely
  • normal

 

Emotions can shift and change and it is normal for this to occur. It is however, important to talk to friends or family to discuss these feelings as they will help you work through the situation.

A few suggestions that can assist with dealing with your emotions are:

  1. Talking to someone such as a friend or family member.
  2. Crying will let you release some of your emotions and there’s no need to be ashamed to cry.
  3. Write down your feelings. Expressing your emotions on paper can bring some relief and release some of the stress that might be building up inside.
  4. Ask your parents if there is anything you can do to help with the situation. Even if it is just taking on simple house hold duties to ease the pressure off your parents.
  5. Spend time doing things you enjoy. By taking part in your regular activities such as sport, catching up with friends, shopping, going to the beach can assist with taking your mind off the situation at hand.

Department of Human Services have provided a great guide called Family separation: a guide for teens, which can be downloaded here, and provides more information to teenagers going through a family separation.

Our Family Law team are always here to assist Family’s in times of separation. If you need to talk to someone to discuss a separation or divorce contact our team today.

Infidelity – how do you overcome it when it’s not a person?

Leisa Toomey 2012As a family lawyer I have seen what Sexual Infidelity can do to a relationship.  However, wounds heal and people move on with their lives.  But be warned, there is another type of infidelity that you may never recover from if it is not discovered in time.

Financial Infidelity is a relatively new term coined to describe the activities of a partner who is hiding the real financial picture from you.

It comes in many guises but in its simplest form it could be anything from secret shopping to having secret credit cards.  However, at the other end of the scale it could be gambling debts or a business venture that has gone bad – and it could be eating away the equity you have in your home – and all without your knowledge.

It appears we all expect honesty from our partners, but a survey by Harris Interactive of 1796 people aged between 25 and 55 says, whilst we might expect it, we don’t always give it.  According to the 2005 survey, 29% of people in a committed relationship admitted to lying to their partner about their spending habits. And it appears that women have more to hide than men with 33% of women saying they had something to hide as opposed to 26% of men.

As one would expect, 96% of those surveyed believed that it was the responsibility of both partners to be completely honest about financial issues, with 24% believing it was more important than being faithful.

Lying about the price of a pair of shoes is one thing.  Lying about the financial losses of a company is another. Francis* came to see me after discovering the business her husband had set up was actually in liquidation, with debts in excess of $50,000 and an overdraft of $20,000.  She had no idea the company was in trouble as he had told her everything was fine.  Her husband had genuinely tried to make a success of it but once he started borrowing to stay on top, his problems just got worse.  Francis was in turmoil as she has felt betrayed by her husbands’ actions. “Had he come to me to say things were not going well, we could have worked it out together” she said.  By not involving me he has exposed me to the debt and not treated me as a valued partner in this relationship. Sadly, the marriage dissolved, along with a significant portion of their savings.

The bottom line is that whilst lies may start off small, they can quickly take on a life of their own which only leads to bigger problems.  The best solution is to be honest about your actions as the truth will eventually surface anyway.