I’m separated, can I buy a new property?

I'm separated, can I buy a new property?

If you have recently separated from your partner, you may be looking for a new place to live. You may find yourself chatting to a charming real estate agent who is showing you around the perfect new house. Before you sign the contract and pay the deposit for your dream home, you need to be sure that it won’t become a nightmare. 

Even if you and your partner are amicable, it is important to complete a formal family law property settlement to protect any new property you buy after separation. A property settlement will end the financial relationship between you, but until you do this any new property you purchase could become part of the dispute. For example:

Lisa and Michael were married for 7 years and have been separated for 10 months. Lisa meets Steve and they purchase a new house together. Michael then commences property proceedings and Lisa’s new house forms part of the property pool between her and Michael. She’s required to disclose details such as the address, who else owns the property, purchase price, and loan details. 

A lot of people may think that because they’ve purchased the new property after separation its none their ex’s business. However, until you tie up the loose ends of the marriage or de facto relationship by way of a property settlement, your leaving yourself open to a claim over your new property. Whether or not your ex is successful in their claim is a different story, but the cliché, ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry’ exists for a reason. 

You should note that there are also time limitations which end the financial relationship between you and your partner such as:

  • being divorced for 12 months for a marriage; or
  • being separated for 2 years for a de facto relationship. 

It is important to a speak to a family law solicitor before purchasing a new property to be aware of any potential consequences, the ways to complete a property settlement - which doesn’t always mean going to court, and to see whether you meet any of the time limitations listed above. For more information on time limits when separating have a read online here

Need assistance with a family law property settlement? Contact Coutts today.