Property Settlement Agreement: A Complete Guide 
Property Settlement Agreement in Sydney
A family property settlement agreement may not be a major discussion topic for most folks. However, in some situations in life, they function as a necessity to sort things out and be able to move on. Unfortunately, enough bad stories pop up that people dread the idea, and they come to the table with all sorts of preconceptions that then get in the way.
Splitting up assets in a divorce is never a light endeavour, especially if there have been negative experiences within the relationship. We seek to make this difficult time as painless as possible and the family law team at Unified Lawyers will ensure you have a smooth and speedy resolution to your matter.
How to achieve a successful settlement
The key to a successful settlement agreement starts off with a clear goal in mind. That goal should be something like protecting your future with Consent Orders that work for your current situation.
Because property settlement agreements are not a typical coffee table discussion item, many do not know their options for an agreement when they go into the process of creating one. This is why it’s important that you talk to an experienced family lawyer to assist you.
The Principles of Australian Family Law
Anyone who is in a marriage or a de-facto relationship under the law retains the right to craft to a property settlement agreement.
If parties are unable to come to an agreement within 12 months of their divorce being granted, and for de-facto relationships within 24 months from the date of separation, then parties are bound and will not be able to apply to the Court for litigation of the matter without seeking permission.
Fortunately, there is no need to wait for a divorce to happen to finalise a property/financial settlement. A property settlement agreement can be started and negotiated before finalising the divorce. Being able to get started early just makes sense, and by the time the divorce reaches finalisation then there’s no need to protract property settlement problems or other issues with more meetings afterwards. And many experts believe getting technical agreements done and out of the way as soon as possible produces the best results in a separation as well as the most equitable sharing. It also avoids protracted arguments when property values change significantly, such as housing values
Understanding The Property Settlement Process
Under the court’s perspective, anything it deems “property” lands on the eligible list for splitting up or allocating. The same is true is estate planning is in place. And that means the asset also fits in a property settlement agreement. Ironically, the court treats debts the same as assets, so they can be assigned by the court just as quickly if no one agrees to the responsibility ahead of time. And that sometimes produces some unpleasant, one-sided surprises. However, you both can agree on debts and obligations, which provides predictability and a sharing of the liability shared. Other property types include:
- Investments and savings
- Real property such as land or a house
- Pensions and retirements
- Bank accounts
- Trusts and future winnings
- Partnership assets
- Personal property
You can include even pets in a property settlement agreement.
Basically, any shared obligation, debt, money, asset or property sits in determination by the court. There are very few items or property that the court can’t reach and make a decision on in a divorce or separation. As a result, having an agreement makes so much sense because the court will appreciate the fact that the parties have already agreed to a determination, saving time and avoiding work for the court itself.
Steps Towards a Successful Agreement
There will be differences on how they distribute specific items, but a couple of actions can help clear up the ambiguity that usually leads to stress and arguments.
- Estimate the value of assets and come to a general agreement what they are worth. Real property such as a home can be determined objectively via the help of a licensed valuer/appraiser. Real estate agents can help too if both partners are fine with an unofficial estimate.
- Try to identify what each spouse has brought into the shared property pool.
- Figure out a likely budget that each partner needs to move forward independently after the divorce or relationship comes to an end.
- Focus on reaching a fair agreement how to distribute property, whether it’s a house settlement process or land settlement process. The more items agreed upon and settled, the less there is to sort out if anything has to be decided by the court.
- Come up with a basic draft of an agreement that includes as many of the above details agreed upon ahead of time. This shortens the property settlement process and focuses any final vetting by an attorney and saves billing from time spent asking you for the details you already know.
What You Can Expect From Your Family Lawyer
Once both parties are satisfied with the property settlement agreement produced, it can be brought to the table and made legally binding on the provision that it is fair and equitable to both parties. The agreement will be recognised and turned into a legal document, settling all property titles and debt per the terms of the agreement.
If all else fails, you can always seek legal advice from a qualified family solicitor in Sydney. They should advise you on the best step to take should you have any issues with dispute resolution, spousal maintenance, property and debts, child custody, divorce and property and other matters concerning divorce laws.
DISCLAIMER: The content of this publication does not constitute legal advice and is intended only to provide a summary and general overview. We do not guarantee that it is current. You should seek specialist legal advice or other professional advice about your specific circumstances. Your access to this publication is not intended to create nor does it create a solicitor-client relationship between you and Unified Lawyers.