The Family Court has four areas that it deals with
- Property settlement;
- Spousal maintenance;
- Parenting matters; and
Divorce has nothing to do with property settlement. The term ‘divorce’ is often used as a blanket term by people going through a separation to encompass everything that happens after a separation, including the steps taken to bring them to financial independence, arranging ‘custody’ of children and the fact of no longer being married.
When lawyers use the term ‘divorce’ we are referring to the legal dissolution of a marriage by the Court. All that a ‘divorce’ does is allow you the freedom to legally marry another person. Divorce is often dealt with last because there are time limits to making an application to the Court for a property settlement (within 1 year of a divorce order) and also because it can be an emotionally difficult process.
Property Settlement is the process of ‘who gets what’ of the assets. Courts do this by applying a four-step process;
- What is the monetary value of each asset and liability;
- What contributions have each of you made to the value of the assets;
- What the future needs of each party are; and
- Whether the percentage division of the assets is fair.
This is financial support paid to a party that is unable for a time to support themselves financially. The Court looks at the financial circumstances of both parties to decide if one party has a need for spousal maintenance, then determine whether the other has the capacity to provide financial support. Spouse maintenance is not an automatic right and is most often ordered in circumstances where:
- One party is the primary carer of young children and is therefore unable to work; or
- One party has been out of the workforce for a significant period of time and becomes unskilled and unable to generate an income.
This is where the Court considers who the children live with and who the children spend time with. The Court no longer refers to the terms “custody” and “access” as children are not property and it is their right to spend time with each parent, not the other way around. Speak with our experienced team of Family Lawyers to start your journey.