When a couple is marrying, they usually have lifetime expectations of the union. They anticipate that they’ll stay and work together toward achieving their shared and individual goals while their relationship is still intact. Unfortunately, life has many uncertainties, and several circumstances may lead to a divorce.
If your marriage comes to a divorce, you’d want to know the fate of your property. There are several factors to consider before deciding what will happen to your property after divorcing your spouse. These factors include: whether you owned the property alone; whether you owned the property jointly with your ex-spouse; or whether you’re a cohabiting couple and the property belongs to your ex-partner.
Read on for further details on what happens to your property after divorce.
Establishing The Matrimonial And Non-Matrimonial Property
When it comes to legal terms, there’s a lot of ambiguity regarding what exactly is considered marital property. Thus, you must seek expert guidance when divorcing. Suppose you live in a city like Melbourne. If that’s the case, you’d want to consult family lawyers Melbourne as they have the requisite grasp of local marriage and divorce laws, and, thus, they can give you worthwhile advice. Even if you think the property belongs to only one of you, consulting experienced lawyers can open your eyes in ways you couldn’t imagine.
The idea behind division of property is to give you and your spouse financial security for the rest of your lives. You wouldn’t want to walk out of a marriage empty-handed after investing a lot of time and energy, leave alone the emotions. For this reason, a significant factor in determining the criteria for property allotment is the length of the marriage, and whether the court sees it as long or short.
If the marriage has lasted for many years, both partners are likely to be favored, and the court may decide to split the property and money equally. However, the longer you’ve been in a marriage, the higher the chances of the financially weaker partner being entitled to more assets and money. Here are two common scenarios regarding the division of property:
- Suppose your marriage has lasted for five or more years. In that case, any asset acquired before you got married and during the marriage is considered the property of the marriage, and both partners are entitled to share equally.
- If you’ve married for a short period of five years or less, and either you or your spouse had acquired property before marriage, the chances of the courts dividing such assets equally are close to nil. This, however, doesn’t mean that the financially weaker spouse won’t get anything; it only means that the owner will get a more significant percentage of the property.
Couples’ Mutual Agreement
If both of you agreed to split the assets you acquired equally while you’re married, all you need to do is seek court approval on your agreement. This mutual agreement brings about a consent order, making the agreement legally binding.
But, do note that it isn’t a must that you go to court if your divorce is uncontested. The court process is usually costly. If you can mutually agree on a way to split your property, you’ll significantly save the cash you’d have spent on the legal procedures, and possibly use it for a softer landing as you start pursuing life alone.
Alternatively, you can seek a simple meditation service at a much lower cost in the presence of your family lawyer. That can help both of you compromise and come to a mutual agreement.
How The Courts Divide The Property Fairly
If your divorce is contested and it proceeds to the law courts, the judges will try splitting the property equally between the two of you. This is known as the ‘yardstick of equality,’ and is considered a broad starting point rather than an established guideline.
Having said that, do note that it may be difficult to predict the court’s final verdict in a divorce case because the court will consider many different factors to try to make a decision that’s fair to both couples and the children involved, if there are any. Some of the factors that the court will look at when splitting property are:
- The earning potential and income of both partners
- The pending debts that you might still have, either individually or jointly
- Financial resources or other assets that each partner has
- The value of the assets owned by the two of you
- Financial responsibilities or obligations of each spouse
- The age of each partner
- The contribution of each partner to the welfare of the family
- The children’s welfare
- The length of the marriage
After making all these considerations, the court can conclude a verdict, and divide the property appropriately.
In the event of a divorce, you must amicably agree with your spouse on how to divide the property you acquired together in the course of your marriage. But, if you fail to agree, you’ll have to involve the law courts, who’ll decide on the best way to split your assets. Whichever route you take, it’s critical to seek expert advice from your family lawyer and ensure sufficient legal representation.