It is a sad fact that not all relationships last. For many couples, the assets they accumulate during their relationship represent their entire life’s savings. So you might be asking: is there any position more disadvantageous than that of the stay-at-home mum? Well, don’t despair – the Court takes into consideration the work of a stay-at-home mum and rightly so!
Firstly, if you are contemplating divorce, it is important that all parties seriously consider mediation and/or negotiation prior to litigation. More and more people are utilising the Family Law and Federal Circuit Courts so waiting lists are growing, as are the delays in having matters dealt with. On one occasion we had to wait four years for a Judge to render their decision.
There are occasions where mediating and/or negotiating is not possible, e.g. where threats of violence have been made by one party against the other or one party is unwilling to participate.
Assessing the contributions of both parties
Financial contributions can be things such as your incomes, your financial resources, any inheritance received, the net equity of your assets at the commencement of the relationship, or any windfalls you may have had during the relationship which have contributed to the preservation or acquisition of matrimonial assets.
The Court will also assess contributions to the care and welfare of the family which will include providing care to the children and the domestic responsibilities of the family such as cleaning, vacuuming, garden maintenance etc.
In long relationships, where the parties have started with equal or no assets, and one of the parties has been the primary income earner, while the other party has been the stay at home parent, Courts would generally assess each party as making equal contributions. Your entitlement is dependent on the particular facts of the relationship which is why it is imperative to have great lawyers in your corner.
What future circumstances might influence the Court in deciding how to divide the matrimonial assets?
If a party is in a financially disadvantaged position at the time of separation, then a financial adjustment will be made in their favour to counteract that imbalance. For example, a party who earns substantially less than the other party will receive a financial adjustment in their favour, which effectively gives a party more of the asset pool than they would otherwise have received, if not for that financial disparity. A party who is significantly older than the other party will likely receive a financial adjustment in their favour, as they are closer to retirement age and have less opportunity to earn an income. There are many other examples of how adjustments might be made in one party’s favour because they find themselves in a position of disadvantage.
Whilst this article gives you a view of the Court process it is always wise to seek legal advice as to the particulars of your relationship so you have an understanding of your entitlement. This allows you to start to negotiate a resolution with your former partner or spouse with confidence.
Get advice today
At MCG Legal we have a number of legal representatives who are able to assist in resolving your family law matters – if you are unable to agree on how to divide the matrimonial assets and require assistance with your property settlement matter, you should always seek legal advice. If you have any questions, please contact MCG Legal for more information or call us on (07) 5591 2222.