The end of a relationship is stressful and upsetting. Even when the decision is amicable, there are a lot of emotions to process. Considering there is a property settlement time limit, you don’t have much time to grieve the end of your relationship. 

What Is Considered a Short-Term Marriage? 

The circumstances of your marriage matter, but generally, relationships of fewer than five years are short-term marriages. And, when it comes to property settlement after separation, what each party contributed financially is of the utmost importance. 

If you have been married less than two years, you are required to attend marriage counselling before you can apply for divorce. If you have already attended counselling and there are still no hopes of reconciliation, you may proceed with an application for divorce. When you file your divorce application, you need to include a certificate stating there was discussion around reconciliation during marriage counselling. 

Couples must be separated for at least one year before they can apply for divorce. However, they can be classed as separated even if they remained living under the same roof during that period. 

In unmarried relationships, the Court can declare an official de facto relationship if the pair lived together for more than two years or if they produced children together. 

What Is Considered “Property” In A Marriage? 

Before any property settlement can begin, the divorcing couple must agree on the property pool. The market can provide an estimated value for real estate, though it is possible to contact an estate agent for an official valuation. If you cannot agree with your former partner, a property valuer must be called. It will cost you, but the valuer will produce a detailed report for both parties. If you still cannot agree, a Court may appoint an independent valuer to settle the matter. 

Both parties disclose superannuation statements, bank statements, and tax returns. 

The property pool also includes assets and liabilities, whether sole or joint accounts. This can include real estate, businesses, bitcoin, shares, bank accounts, and superannuation. Liabilities are any debt, whether credit cards, loans or mortgages. Property purchased before the filing are considered property pool. And, if any property is sold between separation and divorce, those proceeds would go directly into the property pool. That’s why you need to complete your settlement as quickly as possible. You want a clean break. Also classed as property pool are vehicles, stocks, bonds, shares, and any other material possessions. 

How Is the Property Pool Divided? 

Is the divorce property settlement the same for a short-term marriage as it is for a decades-long marriage? Yes. It doesn’t matter how long the marriage lasted. The principles of family law property settlement are much the same. The court will assess what each party entered the relationship with. 

While the duration of the relationship is a factor, there are many more considerations in a property settlement. A short-term marriage can ensure a swift, clean-cut divorce as there are generally fewer joint assets to address. Ideally, both parties can negotiate to create their own agreement. It’s the quickest way to resolve the process and will allow you to avoid court, which means it’s time and money-saving. 

To start, the couple can review the property pool and discuss what they feel a fair settlement looks like. If the separated couple can agree together, the lawyers can apply for consent orders. It is a straightforward process, and once issued, the agreement is a legally enforceable document. 

If you cannot come to an agreement, a mediator may be able to help. Otherwise, you may need to take it to Court. According to the Family Law Act, property settlements must be equitable and just. If it ends up in Court, the Court will consider several factors. Including all assets and liabilities, each parties initial contributions, contributions during the relationship, and their situations post-separation. However, it isn’t necessarily 50-50. Age, income, health, employment, starting assets, and past incomes are considered. 

Why You Should Seek Legal Help Ahead of a Property Settlement 

Going through a breakup is a difficult time emotionally. It can be incredibly stressful, especially if there are children involved. You must leave no stone unturned during the property settlement process. You can’t risk losing out on what is rightfully yours. 

You have 12-months from the date of your divorce to complete the property settlement process. However, as discussed above, until the process is complete, the proceeds from sales of assets go directly into the property pool. While you might be okay with that in theory, it further complicates your financial standing. Even if you have negotiated an agreement, you need a lawyer to review the details and apply for the consent order. An un-finalised property settlement is a risk because your former partner could change their mind until the 12 months are up. If you need property settlement after separation advice, contact AJB Stevens.