How to Split Assets After a De Facto Relationship

5 Tips for Splitting your Assets Before a Divorce

When a de facto relationship ends, how do you decide who should get the flat screen, and who deserves the furniture?

To answer that question, you first need to be able to define a de facto relationship. In the eyes of Australian courts, a de facto couple is any two people who consider themselves to be in a relationship (without being related to each other). The individuals in a de facto relationship don’t necessarily need to live together full-time to be classed as “in a relationship.”

De facto partners in Australia have many of the same rights as married couples. This means that when the relationship comes to an end, you’ll need to determine who should get certain assets. Just because one person bought an item, doesn’t mean that they have complete ownership of that item, and vice versa.

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Defining De Facto Relationships Under the Family Law Act

De facto relationships under the Family Law Act are any relationship between two people who are not married, who live together as a couple on a bona fide domestic basis, and are both over the age of 18. In deciding whether two people live together as a couple, the courts will look at factors like:

  • Whether the couple is in a sexual relationship
  • The length of the relationship
  • The extent of common residence
  • The degree of financial dependence or interdependence between them
  • The degree of commitment to a shared life
  • The use and acquisition of property
  • The care and support of children
  • The performance of household duties

De facto relationships include same-sex relationships and a de facto relationship can exist even if one of them is married to someone else or is in another de facto relationship at the same time.

So, if you’ve been in a de facto relationship that’s now coming to an end, how do you make sure that you’re safely and fairly distributing assets between you and your ex-partner?

Start by Determining the Asset Pool

When splitting belongings, most legal experts recommend that couples list all of the assets and financial resources that belong to each of them, including superannuation, debt, and other liabilities. You need to assign a value to each item on the list so that it’s possible to see the joint worth of all the assets in one group. This can sometimes help with making decisions when you and your partner decide to split things according to their ascribed worth.

Once you have your asset pool, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to split it. You don’t necessarily need to go for a 50/50 division. However, it’s a good idea to come to a decision between yourselves if possible, to avoid asking the courts to do that for you.

Learn How the Courts Split Assets

If you’re not sure how to start making decisions about how to divide your assets, you could consider looking into the factors that the courts take into account. For instance, Australian judges will sometimes consider the contributions made by each of the parties when deciding how to divide the asset pool.

“Contributions” in a de facto relationship may refer to the financial contributions that someone makes, like paying household bills or buying items. On the other hand, the law also considers the emotional contributions and support an individual gives too. For instance, someone who spends all of their time looking after their partner’s children would be seen as making a substantial contribution to the relationship even though that contribution might not have led directly to the increase in the value of the assets.

Focus on Making an “Equitable” Decision

The goal in dividing assets between a de facto couple doesn’t need to be to split belongings down the middle. Instead, try to make sure that the agreement you come to is “equitable,” or fair. Ultimately, when the decision you make is taken into court, the judges dealing with it will reject or accept it based on how “just” they believe it to be.

The courts, for instance, will rarely agree to a settlement that will put one party in a difficult financial situation. For help simplifying the division of assets in your de facto relationship, take the simple route with Split Easy.

Call our Split Easy team directly on 1300 545 233.

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