June 23, 2024

In Australia, family law dictates some important timelines to be aware of. If you have been in a de facto relationship, you have two years from the date of separation to finalize your financial settlement (also known as a property settlement). If you have been married, you have one year from the date your divorce has been granted (a divorce can only be applied for 1 year after the date of separation).

This illustrates how easy the timelines for people to separate financially can expand considerably. This is why reaching an agreement is important. And not just an informal agreement either. You each need legal advice before formalizing an agreement with what is known as Consent Orders or a Binding Financial Agreement.

If you create an agreement between yourselves and it is not done in the right way, then there is an opportunity for people to revisit the property settlement again and request a revised arrangement. Formalizing this with the assistance of an experienced family lawyer is therefore essential if you want to ensure your agreement is final and you are free to move on with your life. You want to avoid the risk of your ex coming back for a second round of negotiations about what they are entitled to.

Until an agreement can be reached between you and your ex regarding how your asset pool and liabilities will be split (or a Court makes the decision for you), all expenses need to continue to be managed, even if one person is no longer accessing that assets.

From the date of your separation until the date your property settlement is finalised, there needs to be some temporary plans (often referred to as interim arrangements) so there is an agreed plan for how your finances are to be managed during this time.

It can take considerable time to reach an agreement about your property division because you will each be managing a lot as you go through the separation process. Especially if you end up having to go through the Court system.

Importantly, it can take anywhere from months through to years to finalize your finances with your ex. Given that, neither of you should have to face the additional problems that can arise from unpaid bills or unmet financial obligations, you need to get a plan in place that your family lawyer would tell you is wise in your circumstances.