Family Separation and Divorce

Why bother with a Legal Settlement?

To make sure your assets are protected!

A question we often get asked is “Why do I need to bother with a legal settlement in a family separation? My ex-partner and I have agreed on everything and we are amicable. We have a hand-shake agreement and have made a deal”. The answer is quite simple. Without a proper legal document effecting your deal, either person in the marriage or relationship can come back at any time in the future to make a claim. A recent Court case highlights this very issue.

A recent case in the Federal Circuit Court Carpenter & Carpenter [2016] FCCA 721 highlights the importance of protecting your assets after a separation. In this case a husband and wife were married for 20 years and had 2 adult children. At separation they sold the family home and divided the proceeds equally, without a formal legal agreement. Each bought their own house and lived separate lives. Four years later, the wife started Court proceedings asking for a further $120k in cash and $86k in superannuation from the husband.

The wife was successful in the Court case. Each had bought their own home, but the wife was forced to buy a smaller home due to earning less. The agreement of the parties was not made legal. Because there was no legal agreement in place the Court made Orders that were appropriate at that time, being 4 years later. The Court ultimately gave the wife another 3% on top of her 50% already received at separation which equaled $120k in cash and $82k in superannuation.

If the husband had invested $3,000 in a legal settlement at separation he would have saved himself over $100,000 plus legal fees! Moral of the Story – Protect yourself with a legally binding agreement – it’s worth the money.

Jacqueline Conquest, Principal, Accredited Family Law Specialist