As Family lawyers, one question we are often asked by a newly separated client is “If I get the kids, do I get more property in our settlement?” The simple answer is that in calculating each party’s entitlement in a property settlement, the care of the children of the relationship is only one of the factors that is taken into consideration. As to the child or children’s living arrangements, any such agreement should always be based on what is in the children’s best interests.
Whether you were married or in a de facto relationship, after you separate, it is important that you contact a lawyer for advice as to your likely entitlements in a property settlement and what parenting arrangements you should make before you reach any final agreement with your ex-spouse. Contact our Cairns Family Law team and arrange an obligation-free appointment as soon as possible.
We will assist you wherever possible with negotiating a final settlement regarding your children and your property. The usual practice is for this agreement than to be ratified by the Family Court of Australia by way of Consent Orders. In rare cases, the parties are unsuccessful in these negotiations and mediation fails to achieve a final settlement. In this instance, our family lawyers will assist you to commence court proceedings for parenting orders and /or property settlement.
Regardless of whether you achieve court orders by way of negotiation or after litigation, the starting point in any property matter is to firstly determine should there be any alteration of the parties’ interests in property at all. If the answer to this question is yes, then there is usually an exchange of financial documents in accordance with each party’s duty to provide the other with disclosure of all relevant financial documents. The parties may then obtain valuations of each major asset such as the home and any business interest or investment. At this stage, you can then collate a balance sheet which sets out the size of the property pool.
Your lawyer will then endeavour to negotiate a settlement on your behalf after obtaining detailed instructions from you about your financial contributions, your non-financial contributions and your contributions as a homemaker and parent. Although it is usual for the primary parent during the relationship to initially remain the primary parent of the children, the legislation and the courts do not always maintain the status quo. The arrangements for the children will be determined on a case-by-case basis, which takes into account various factors including but not limited to the age of the children, the children’s wishes (where appropriate), the opportunities each party has taken to spend time and communicate with the children, to be involved in the children’s lives and to support the children.
After weighing up each party’s contributions to the relationship, the next factor considered is each party’s future needs. This entails a review of each party’s age, health status, future income, current superannuation entitlements, any child support paid, and obligations to support any third party in addition to a consideration of the percentage of time the children will spend with each parent.
We, therefore, encourage you to contact our Family Lawyers to obtain expert advice about the care arrangements for your children and your property settlement entitlements.