Family Law Property

Q&A: Separation and inheritance

Rebecca Blog - Separation and inheritance

Wondering about separation and inheritance? Our Solicitor Rebecca answers a question over at SimplyAskIt.

Q: 

I have been separated for 2 years, and have just sold the family home. I believe a 50/50 split of the equity is fair but my estranged partner believes she is entitled to more as my father passed away 10 months ago and she is wanting some inheritance as well. My fathers estate is still in probate and overseas. I am self employed, pay maintenance for our child, the ex does not work and has never worked.

Does my ex have claim on my future inheritance, or for a higher split in the equity?

A:

It is important to complete a formal family law property settlement to end the financial relationship between you and protect and any future assets you may receive. You may be able to try and argue that you have received your inheritance after separation but it’s possible that it may form part of the property pool. In relation to the split of the equity, we are not aware of all the details of the relationship but in circumstances where your former spouse has a lower income earning capacity than you and care of the child then she may be able to receive an adjustment in her favour. It is important to seek advice from a family law solicitor in relation to your inheritance and the potential split of the equity. 

Need to complete a formal family law property settlement? Talk to the team at Coutts Solicitors & Conveyancers.

This Q&A first appeared online at SimplyAskIt

Do we need to pay our property grants back?

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If you have recently built a home with your partner, or bought a brand new home, and you have now separated, there is a chance that you will need to pay your property grants back.

Below we explain when you need to pay your property grants back, when you don’t need to, and what else you should know to protect yourself.

If you are selling the property

If you are selling the property for which you received property grants, then there is a high chance that you will need to pay back those grants. The rules for property grants are as follows:

  • New Home Grant

    • If you purchased a home complete and ready for occupation or an off the plan purchase you are not required to pay back the grant.

    • If you purchased vacant land with the intention to build a dwelling:

      • But did not commence construction within 26 weeks of settlement then you must repay the grant; or

      • If you completed construction then you will not be required to pay back the grant.

  • First Home New Home Stamp Duty Exemption/Concession

    • If you purchased vacant land with the intention of building a dwelling; or

    • If you bought a new home that had not been lived in previously, then:

      • At least one purchaser must have occupied the Property for a continuous period of 6 months in the first 12 months. If this has been achieved then the stamp duty exemption/concession does not need to be paid back.

      • If you have not commenced construction or neither purchaser has lived at the property for the required period then the exemption/concession must be paid back on or prior to settlement of the sale.

  • First Home New Home Grant

    • The guidelines above for the Stamp Duty Exemption/Concession are also applicable to the grant.

If one of you is keeping the property

If one of you is going to keep the property and buy the other out, there is a chance that you will not need to pay back the grant money that you have received.

In order to avoid paying back any stamp duty concession or grant received on your Property you must meet the eligibility and residence requirements, which are set out below:

  • New Home Grant

    • If you purchased a home complete and ready for occupation or an off the plan purchase you are not required to pay back the property grant.

    • If you purchased vacant land with the intention to build a dwelling:

      • But did not commence construction within 26 weeks of settlement then you must repay the grant or request an extension to meet the requirements of the grant which would avoid the need to pay back the grant; or

      • If you completed construction then you will not be required to pay back the grant.

  • First Home New Home Stamp Duty Exemption/Concession and Grant

    • Either purchaser must have lived at the Property for a continuous period of 6 months within the first 12 months after settlement or completion of the dwelling.

What should be done from a Family Law point of view?

If you have separated and have property together, you should be entering into a formal family law settlement. To read more about why, please click here.

In addition to providing you with protection and certainty in the future, a formal family law property settlement will also help the party who is going to keep the property avoid having to pay stamp duty on the transfer into their sole name.

A family law property settlement is also important if you have previously received property grants. Any settlement should cover who, out of the two of you, will be responsible for paying back the grants in the event that the conditions set out above are not complied with. If you are not keeping the house, and you are selling your share to your former partner, you may want any settlement to say that you will not be responsible for paying back the grants in the event that your former partner does not comply.

This will help both of you move forward into the next chapter of your lives with certainty.

If you would like more information about this, please contact our office to make an appointment.

10 things to think about when Separating - Property

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If you are going through a separation, and own property together (whether you are married or a de facto couple), you will need to decide on separating property between you. Before you are able to reach an agreement with separating property you have, it’s important to have reasonable expectations. Expectations of life after separation and what life is really going to be like for you, sometimes don’t meet up, so it is important to take a realistic approach.

Here are 10 things to think about when separating property:

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What next?

After you have taken the time to consider these things and what you want for the future, it is important to speak to a lawyer about the best way to move forward. It’s very important that a formal family law property settlement is done to protect you both in the future.

To make an appointment to discuss your separation and these issues, contact us today. We can help you plan how to move past these issues and onto the next exciting chapter of your life.

Should I let my Children Travel overseas with my ex?

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If your ex has asked to take your children to travel overseas with them, you may be worried or questioning, "Should I let my children travel overseas with my ex?". On the one hand overseas travel can be an amazing opportunity for children to spend time with your former partner and learn about the world. However, it can be a scary and uncertain thing for the parent who isn’t travelling with the children. When considering a request from your ex to take your children travelling overseas, you obviously need to consider if it is safe for your children to travel. One of the biggest concerns people express  is that the other parent will not return the children to Australia.

When weighing things up, you should consider the following:

  1. Is your former partner a citizen, or are your children citizens of another country?
  2. Does your former partner have family in another country that they are close with?
  3. Has your former partner ever lived overseas, or expressed a desire to move overseas with the children?
  4. Is your former partner proposing to travel with the children to a country that is not a signatory to the Hague Convention?
  5. Do you have current Family Law Orders in place?

What is the Hague Convention?

Formally called ‘The Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of Internal Child Abduction’, the Hague Convention is an international treaty that provides avenues for child recovery when a person takes children overseas without permission or does not return to the home country as promised.

Countries that have agreed to be a part of the Convention are called ‘signatories’.

Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention, and so when children travel to other signatory countries, the Hague Convention applies. However, if children travel to other countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention, then the treaty does not apply and the avenues it provides are not available if the children are not returned. For the full list of countries practicing the Hague Convention click here.

What are Family Law Orders?

Family Law Orders are orders that have been made under the Family Law Act. They provide orders about things like who children live with after separation takes place. Family Law Orders can also provide conditions of overseas travel.

If there are Family Law Orders in place, both parties are bound to comply with the orders. Failure to comply allows the other party to make an application to the court to enforce the orders under certain circumstances.

So, what can I do to make sure that my children travel safely with my ex?

Holidays are a part of life, and overseas travel is a wonderful opportunity for your children to learn about the world. But, if you are unsure or uncomfortable with the thought of your children travelling and want to know more about your options, please contact us for an appointment.

The Coutts Solicitors Family Law team are experienced and knowledgeable in all areas of current Australian Family Laws. Several members of our team practice solely on Family Law Matters, meaning they have advised hundreds of people on Family Laws. Each of our team are excellent at negotiation and mediation outside of Court, as well as representing you in Court if you wish to proceed to this level. If you would like to know more about Family Law and how Coutts can help, please click here.

Mallik Rees joins Coutts at the Hunter Valley Vineyards

On Tuesday the 5th April the team at Coutts Solicitors & Conveyancers travelled to the Hunter Valley to celebrate Coutts joining with Mallik Rees Lawyers located in Cessnock. Mallik Rees Lawyers is an accredited specialist firm providing a variety of legal services to the Cessnock community, with a focus on local government and planning law. The announcement was made to distinguished guests at the Goldfish Bar and lounge in Polkolbin. The evening debuted the new branding for the Cessnock location and revealed the firm will now be known as "Coutts Mallik Rees Solicitors & Conveyancers". The evening was celebrated with perfect weather, food and beverages in the picturesque Hunter Valley setting. Guests included the Mayor of Cessnock Bob Pynsent and representatives from Dungong Council, Liverpool Plains Council, Gunnedah Council, Tamworth Council and Maitland Council as well as long term supporting business partners of Mallik Rees Lawyers. With the joining of the two firms Coutts Solicitors & Conveyancers and Mallik Rees Lawyers are able to leveridge the legal services at both locations and provide their clients with additional expertise for a richer more elite experience from some of the best solicitors in the state.  

6 steps to recover financially from a Separation or Divorce

In Australia today around 1 in 3 marriages can be expected to end in divorce. With 77% of Australian couples also living together before getting married (and let’s face it - some don’t go the distance) the real impact of  relationship breakdowns is likely to be much higher than the statistics lead us to believe. 

There is no doubt moving on from any long term relationship, be it marriage or de facto, can attract a heavy emotional toll. But the financial impact can also be far reaching and long lasting.

Finances are often left on the back burner as you focus on the emotional health of yourself and your family. Perhaps it is the fi rst time you have had sole responsibility for your finances? Or maybe you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start?

The key is to take action early. Here are some steps to get back on track financially after a separation or divorce…

1. Check your credit rating

A vital first step is taking control of your financial future! Check to see if your credit report contains any errors or if any of your partner’s information is listed. If so, have it rectified. There are two main credit reporting agencies - Veda and Dun & Bradstreet

2. Identify your creditors

Make a list of all your creditors, both secured and unsecured. Your secured creditors are those where assets are used as security for the loan, eg house or car. Negotiation of both the assets and the outstanding loans will be required by both parties.

3. Separate all joint accounts

A time consuming but crucial step is to unravel all your joint accounts, including credit cards. Even if the separation is amicable it is best to separate all accounts to avoid future issues.

4. Create a budget

An unavoidable result of separation is a change in lifestyle. An important step in making this adjustment is creating a comprehensive budget separating discretionary and mandatory expenses. To stick to your new budget you may need to make tough decisions on discretionary spending. Of course, if you have children then child support may also come into the equation – one party may be paying child support while the other receives it. Remember that child support payments will cease or may be amended at some point in time. This should be factored into future planning for both parties.

5. Decide on your housing options

In most cases the family home is either sold or refinanced. At least one partner will need to find somewhere new to live. While renting may be a viable short term option, in the long term most people wish to buy a home. You will need expert advice on how to best refinance your home or secure a loan for a new home. If refinancing or applying for a new loan it is important that all required identity documentation reflects your new marital status and/or any change of name.

It is essential you contact your mortgage broker to discuss the process BEFORE lodging any loan application documents.

6. Prepare a Financial plan for the future

• Start an emergency fund - open a separate savings account for unexpected emergencies. • Update your Will – ensure it reflects the changes that have occurred in your life. • Manage your debt - contact us for a chat about how to reduce your ‘bad’ debt like credit cards and personal loans as quickly as possible. • Plan for your retirement - review superannuation and update beneficiary details if required. • Review your insurance needs - you will need to update policies from married to single status.

This is a guest blog written by Andrew Evans from Mortgage Guy. If you would like to discuss getting your finances on track after a separation or divorce click here to contact Mortgage Guy . If you are thinking of separating from your partner and would like information from the Coutts Solicitors Family Law team click here to contact Coutts Solicitors.

Time limits when separating

If you are separating from your partner it is important to remember time limits when separating and protect yourself with a property settlement within this time frame. People who enter into marriages and de facto relationships create a very special relationship emotionally, socially, and legally. That special relationship brings many rights and obligations at law. It is these legal implications of a relationship that allow a property division to take place when a relationship ends or when a couple are separating.

Dividing up property and having a property settlement is different for every separating couple. To understand exactly what you need to do, it is best to speak with a family lawyer.

It is also important that you know that there can be time limits on when a property division can take place.

How early can we do a property settlement?

You can do a property settlement as soon as separation takes place. To ensure that your property settlement is legally recognised, you should engage with a lawyer and do things properly. This process can take a few weeks or a few months depending on the case.

De facto time limits

If you have been in a de facto relationship and you have separated, it is important that you know that you only have two years to make an application to the court to have a property settlement take place.

Example: John and Sarah separate on 31 August 2013. They have a house together, bank accounts, and cars, but they never got married. John and Sarah talk about how they want to divide up the property but can never reach an agreement.

John and Sarah must either enter into a legally recognised agreement, or make an application to the court by 31 August 2015. If they do not do this, they no longer fall under the Family Law Act, and this can cause serious legal issues for them.

Marriage time limits

If you have been married, it is important to know that there is no time limit on when a property settlement has to take place, unless you have gotten a divorce and more than 12 months has passed. This is very important to consider as it means that the legal rights and obligations that your marriage has created do not end until you do have a legally recognised agreement or a court order in place.

Example: Chris and Tammy have been married for seven years. They have each have superannuation, cars, bank accounts, and credit cards. They also have a house and a mortgage. They separate on 1 May 2012. Although they often talk about it, they cannot reach an agreement on how to split up the property and who should have to pay the credit cards. On 30 June 2013, Tammy applies for a divorce, and the divorce is granted on 1 August 2013. Chris and Tammy then only have until 1 August 2014 to enter into a legally recognised agreement or make an application to the court for a property settlement. If they do not do this in time, then they no longer fall under the Family Law Act and this will lead to serious legal issues for both of them.

For advice on your circumstances contact Coutts Solicitors & Conveyancers on 1300 268 887 your first consultation is FREE for up to 1 hour.

Is Separation hard to do?

As a family lawyer, I see people going through separation every day. Many people ask me "Is Separation hard to do?" , Separation is becoming more common in our society. But just because it happens every day doesn’t mean that it is easy, either emotionally, physically or legally. Even though most people do not realise it, being married or in a de facto relationship actually bears very serious legal ramifications, and so the process of separation is also a complex legal matter.

Background: the marital relationship

Throughout history, marriage has been considered a legal agreement to bind two people into a relationship. From a legal point of view, it is very similar to a contract. As a part of this legal agreement, many rights and obligations are given to both parties particularly in relation to property. Think of these as the ‘fine print’ or the ‘terms and conditions’ of marriage. Once a couple is married, any assets or debts that they have are considered marital assets and marital debts, regardless of whose name those assets or debts are in. Marriage also creates certain rights in relation to a persons estate after they pass away.

Since 2009, the Family Law Act also covers de facto relationships. This means that there are rights and obligations that mirror that of a married couple if two people are in a relationship and have been living together for more than two years or if they have children together.

It is important to remember that just because marriage and de facto relationships are common does not mean that the law treats them with indifference. The rights and obligations that go along with these relationships create serious and quite complex legal issues.

What kinds of rights and obligations are created in these special relationships?

The main rights and obligations that are created are in relation to legal and financial matters.

When a party to marriage or a de facto relationship buys property or acquires an asset, that property or asset becomes property of the marriage, regardless of whose name it is in.

The same goes for debts, all credit card debts, loans and mortgages taken out by either party become debts of the marriage.

There are also rights and obligations created in terms of information. For example, if my husband is in an accident, I have the right to information about his health and condition, and I also have the obligation to make decisions about this treatment if he is not in a position to do so himself.

Marriage and de facto relationships also create rights of survivorship and impact on a person’s estate after they have passed away.

Separation: exiting a marriage or de facto relationship

The act of separation itself does not end the rights and obligations that have been created. So, when separation does take place, proper steps must be taken to end the rights and obligations that have been invoked by marriage or time (in the case of de facto’s).

The steps that must be taken can vary slightly on a case by case basis, but what all separations have in common is this: you must engage in legal processes to end the rights and obligations that have been created by the relationship. If you do not do this, those rights and obligations will continue into the future (for more information about time limits, please click here).

Just as the rights and obligations created are serious and complex, so is the process to undo those rights and obligations. Although it is possible to enter into an agreement about what you want to do with those rights and obligations, for that agreement to be legally recognised it must be done in a certain way.

Legal processes: ending the rights and obligations

While legal processes can often seem confusing and unnecessary, it is important to follow these processes to make sure that you are protecting yourself in the future. If you do not engage in these legal processes after separating, then you are not ending the rights and obligations that the parties have to one another.

To actively sever the rights and obligations created by your relationship in a way that is legally recognised, you will need to either:

  1. Enter into an agreement that is drawn up in accordance with the law. This means using forms and processes that are set out under the Family Law Act and Family Law Rules. A mere verbal or written agreement is not enough to be a legally recognised agreement.
  2. Have an order made by the Court.

It is also incredibly important that you consider doing things like:

  1. Updating you Will, Power of Attorney, and Enduring Guardianship.
  2. Applying for a Divorce.

Protecting myself in the future: what do I do now?

To find out more about what you need to do next, contact Coutts Solicitors and Conveyancers  to make an appointment on 1300 268 887.

We will be able to provide you with advice about what needs to be taken into consideration in your particular case, and guide you through the processes from there.

Joint tenants and tenants in common

What are Joint tenants and tenants in common ? If you and your partner have just thought about purchasing a property or are in the process of purchasing a property this is a question you will need to know the answer to. When you review your contract with your conveyancer you will be asked if you would like to purchase your property as Joint tenants or tenants in common. Most people are not aware of this until the appointment and do not realise the implications of their choice. We at Coutts endeavour to help you make the best choice for your current circumstances ensuring you have an easy transaction from beginning to end. As like every person, buying a property is quite complex and it can be a stressful period. One of the biggest decisions you both have to make is whether you wish to buy the property as Joint Tenants, Tenants in Common in equal shares or Tenants in Common in unequal shares. In this article I will describe to you the differences between joint tenants and tenants in common.

It is important to pick your shares earlier on in the purchasing transaction. During your Contract Review with your Solicitor or Licensed Conveyancer they will describe the difference. This article is going to give you a clear understanding on the differences and describe what these mean in "layman" terms so that any persons,  purchasing a property can make an easier decision prior to signing on the dotted line.

It is important to understand, discuss and decide on your shares prior to completion date, as if you make the wrong decision it will cost time and money to amend your shares later on down the track. It is not impossible to change your shareshowever, choosing the most suitable option early on will save you time and money and protect your best interests.

Joint Tenants

Usually, married couples are joint tenants. They own 50% of the property each. This means that if one party was to die the share he/she hadat the time of death can be transferred to the surviving partner. Therefore one person would have the whole 100% share.

One thing most people don't know about Joint Tenants is that you cannot "leave" your share to another person. For example if you and your de facto are joint tenants and you pass away you can't leave your share to your children regardless of the terms of your will. Your share will be left automatically to your de facto partner. It is up to them whether they choose to leave part of the property to your children when they pass away.

Tenants in Common in equal Shares

Tenants in Common in equal shares are normally made by couples who purchase who are not married. This means that yourself and your partner own 50% of the property each and if one of the partners were to pass away their 50% share will be left in accordance with the terms of their Will. This is becoming more common with second time around partnerships and couples with children to previous marriages.

It is very important that if you select to be a tenant in common that you prepare a Will immediately. In the Will you can set out how you wish for your 50% share to be divided. So, what does this mean for your partner who is left behind? It means that the people who are entitled to your share can force your surviving partner to sell the property to obtain your share of the property.

I have in previous years seen where this is an issue. An elderly person has been made to sell the property because step children wanted to sell the property to obtain their share of their parents half of the house. In this case we can create a life estate later on to protect the interest of an elderly person to ensure that they can live in the property until such time as they pass away or decide to move on.

Tenants in common in unequal shares

This is the same principal as above the only difference being on how many shares you own.

For example Brother and Sister are purchasing a property. Property is worth $1,000,000. The brother puts in $800,000 of his savings and sister puts in the remaining $200,000 into the property. As you can see the brother contributed 80% of the purchaseprice and the sister contributed 20% of the purchase price. Both wish to be tenants in common in unequal shares. Therefore, they will own the property as "brother as to 80/100 shares and Sister as to 20/100 shares".

As long as the shares add up to the value of 100th or 10th you can have as many people purchasing or as many shares as decided.

Given the rising prices of housing in all of Sydney many parents are choosing to either go guarantor on the children's property or even putting large sums of money towards their children's home. To protect their interest many parents are added onto the Contract and onto the deeds. An example where we can mix joint tenants and tenants in common is: husband and wife buy property, dad contributed a large some of money towards the purchase. Husband and wife own the property as joint tenants 50% and dad owns other half of the property, 50% as a tenant in common. This means that if the husband was to pass his share will automatically go to his wife. However, if the father passes away his 50% share would be distributed as per the terms of his will. If at any stage the husband and wife want to purchase back the fathers 50% then husband and wife would have to obtain a valuation from a registered property valuer and pay 50% stamp duty on the value of the property.

As you see from the examples whenbuying a property things can get quite complex. So ensure that you have discussed these matters with your partner prior to signing on the dotted line. If you would like any more information about your shares in a property please contact Coutts Solicitors & Conveyancers on 1300 268 887.

Can "friends with benefits" become friends with inheritance benefits?

Can an ex personal friend claim inheritance benefits from your estate if you die? In March 2014 the Supreme Court of New South Wales considered this question. In this case, a wealthy man died after a battle with cancer. He left his multi-million dollar estate to his second wife, Lisa,and their two children. His first wife, Adele, sought provision from the estate.

He had met Adele in the US in 1988 and they were married shortly afterwards. They divorced in 1995 and did not have a Family Court Property orders made at the time. The reason they divorced was that they could not agree on whether to permanently settle in Australia or the US. They had no children together. It seems that they both continued a close friendship after their divorce and Adele held hopes they would resume a romantic relationship. He made representations to her, her sister and her father that he would look after her. He married Lisa in 2009 and together they 2 children. At this time it seems his contact with Adele became infrequent.

In granting Adele provision, the judge considered relevant the fact that the estate was very large and in providing for her, Lisa and the children were still being taken care of. He also decided that the lack of fault or acrimony attached to the breakdown of the marriage, her ongoing friendship and the lack of a family law settlement were relevant factors in Adele’s favour. Adele had little financial means of her own. She was granted $200,000.00 from an overall estate of approximately $11,000,000,000.00

This case again highlights some of the factors a court will consider when a previous partner is seeking provision from an estate. It is also a timely reminder of the dangers of testators telling people that they will be looked after in the Will, but then not updating their Will.

It is also an important for anyone who has ended a relationship- whether it is a marriage or a de facto relationship- of the importance of having a formal property settlement. Even if the split is mutual and friendly, it is important to formalise the end of the relationship from a financial point of view. The Judge even commented that had there been a property settlement following the end of their relationship, the first wife would not have succeeded in making a claim against her ex-husband’s estate.

If you need to clarify your circumstances for either a separation or Will call Coutts Solicitors & Conveyancers on 1300 268 887.

'We don't need a property settlement', famous last words.

If you and your former partner have owned property together, it is very important that you get advice from a family law solicitor about how to separate and finalise any property that you have with a legal property settlement.  This applies to married couples, de facto couples, and same sex couples. Family law property settlements help to protect the assets that exist at the time of separation, as well as protecting the individuals from any further debts that the other party may enter into. But most importantly, entering into a family law property settlement provides people with the certainty that they need to move on to the next chapter of their lives.

What is a Family property Law settlement?

A family law property settlement is a formal way of separating the property that you and your partner have between you once a separation has taken place. It includes things like:

  • Who will get the former family home;

  • How much money will the other person have to be paid to ‘buy’ them out, and when;

  • Who will keep assets such as shares, savings, interests in business;

  • Who will be responsible for different debts.

A family law property settlement can be achieved by agreement, or determined by an order of the Court.

Why do we need a Family property settlement?

When people either get married or enter into a de facto relationship, they create a financial relationship between them.

A Family Law property settlement formally sets out who is to get what out of the property, and ends the financial relationship that is created as a result of their relationship status. This is particularly important to protect each persons interests as they move on with their lives and continue to acquire further property, or incur further debts.

It is also important to do a Family Law property settlement soon after separation, as the value of the property/debts is determined at the date of entering an agreement or an order of the court being made, not at the time of separation.

What can happen if we don’t do a Family Law property settlement?

Scenario 1 –Tracey and Paul purchase a house in Paul’s name. Seven years later, they separate. Traceymoves out of the family home and into a rental property. She does not have any contact with Paul. After about a year, Tracey decides that she would like to settle the property that is between them. After seeing a family law solicitor, she learns that Paul has increased the mortgage against the property without her knowledge, depleting the equity that was available to divide between them.

Scenario 2 –Jen and Matt have a house together. After separating, Jen stays in the home, and  Matt moves out. Then Jen pays Matt some money, but they never enter into a formal agreement. Soon after,  Matt re-partners and wants to buy a new house.  Jen then decides that a formal family law property settlement is necessary. Because the property settlement is considered to be at the time of a formal agreement and not the time of separation, Matt’s new house could become a part of the dispute.

Scenario 3 – Mark and Brad purchase a house together. Two and a half years later, they separate.  Mark vacates the house. Six months later, he tries to buy a new house, but cannot get loan approval as he is still on the mortgage for the home he had with Brad.

Scenario 4 – Frank and Kate have been married for four years, but do not own much property together so they don’t worry about doing a family law property settlement. Two months after separating, Kate receives a large inheritance.  Frank then starts family law proceedings against Kate. Because they had not done a property settlement before Kate received her inheritance, Kate’s inheritance now becomes a part of the dispute.

Scenario 5 – Karen and Scott have been in a de facto relationship for 30 years. They built their home together, and raised their three children there. When they separate, Scott promises Karen that she can keep the house, and that she will never have to worry about where she will live. They do not do a family law property settlement. Five years later, Scott starts proceedings to sell the house and split the proceeds equally.

In each of these scenario’s, the parties could have protected themselves if they had taken steps to enter into a family law property settlement soon after separation took place.

For any further advice or legal assistance on this issue, please contact us at Coutts on 1300 268 887.

Separated? ....... how do your kids feel?

Whether you have just decided to separate or have been separated for some time, you and the other parent obviously need to think about and agree on arrangements about the children. Many children worry about what will happen to them when their parents split up, and it can be a big relief to them if the arrangements become clear and predictable.

How do I make a parenting agreement?

A parenting agreement is an arrangement that separated parents make about how their children will be cared for and supported. One of the things about coming to a parenting agreement that many parents are particularly worried about, is working out where their children will live and how much time each child will spend with whom.

There are usually strong emotions around this topic for parents, these strong feelings can lead people to act in ways that they might not usually act, or may not even agree with. Some parents can get focused on who will 'win’, they may have long debates about where children live and how much time each parent should get. Arguments between the parents can continue for long periods without a resolution.

Before getting caught up in conflicts about what is fair and unfair for each parent, you could get ready to make a parenting plan by focusing your thinking on what will be best for your children.

What actually are my parental responsibilities?

  • Consider your children’s needs as a priority and make arrangements for your children that are in their best interests.
  • Protect your children from physical or psychological harm or the risk of harm.
  • Encourage your children to talk to and see the other parent regularly, unless this would place your children at risk of harm.
  • Not say or do things that stop your children communicating with the other parent, or  that might harm their relationship with the other parent.
  • Encourage and assist your children to enjoy their culture.
  • Maintain your children financially.
  • In most cases, participate in major long-term decisions about your children.

How a Solicitor can help you to reach an agreement

Not all separated parents are able to agree on parenting arrangements, or the agreements they have made are not kept. The highly charged emotional nature of the decision making in regard to the children can cause massive stress, especially if arguments have become aggressive and unreasonable.  In some cases it may not be safe to try to reach agreement, or there may be other difficulties or urgency that prevents parents from agreeing to arrangements. If this applies to you, you may need to go to court. A Family law Solicitor is an expert in this field, they can advise you on your rights as a parent and the family court system. They will guide you through the legal process and how it relates to your families circumstances.

If you go on to court, the court will have to consider the terms of the most recent parenting arrangements and make a parenting order in relation to your children, if they believe that is in the best interests of your children. A Solicitor will be on hand to give you the advice and support you will need while going to court.

Information was sourced from HERE.

If you would like to talk to a Family Lawyer call Coutts Solcitors & Conveyancers on 1300 268 887 for a FREE Initial Consultation for up to 1 hour.