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Saying goodbye doesn't have to mean "see you in court"

Posted By Administration, Monday, 19 June 2017

If you're in an expat relationship and you break up, it is important to be aware that the law of more than one country can apply in relation to how your property and other assets are divided.

When to negotiate
In Australia, property and financial assets can be settled as soon as you separate, so couples who are married do not need to wait until they are divorced. If, however, you are already divorced and cannot agree how to divide your assets, you must issue court proceedings within 12 months of the date of your divorce.

Similarly, de facto or common law couples can negotiate how their assets will be divided as soon as they separate. For de facto couples who cannot agree how to divide their assets, the time limit to issue court proceedings is two years from the date that you separate.

Documenting a settlement
Once you and your former partner have agreed how your assets will be divided, it is important that your agreement is legally documented and formalised to prevent future claims. There are several ways to formally agree and document the division of your assets. Commonly this through a financial agreement (or "post-nup") or by obtaining a court order.

If your assets are divided under Australian family law, be aware that the definition of "property" is broad. Assets such as real estate, shares, cash, motor vehicles, and superannuation will be divided, but assets held in family companies and trusts may also be regarded as property.
Careful drafting of your settlement documents may be required to effectively transfer assets held in companies or trusts, or to remove you or your former partner from involvement in corporate structures, in order to avoid adverse duty or tax consequences.

Even if you are not living in Australia, it may still be possible for you to have your property settlement dealt with under Australian law. Obtaining specialist advice is critical in any property settlement.

About Lander & Rogers
Lander & Rogers is a leading provider of family law services in Australasia and internationally. The friendly team of lawyers includes Accredited Specialists and qualified mediators. The team has expertise in all aspects of family, financial, property, and other related matters involving married and de facto couples, including same-sex couples.

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