Knowing when the game is over

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Nothing in life lasts forever, especially when you are married to the wrong person and the game is over. Often the man doesn’t see the end of the relationship coming, whereas women tend to have already disengaged from the relationship and mentally preparing for life after marriage, sometimes for a year or two before it’s all over. We don’t need to know why it is over, we just need to be assured you are aware of the rules in the game and play within those rules or guidelines to achieve the best possible outcome for both parties upon your decision to separate.

When you have exhausted any possibility of reuniting, tried to rekindle the love, and had mediation, then you may realise that there is no turning back and it may be time to move on.

Under the Family Law Act, strict time limits apply in relation to claims for property settlement or spousal maintenance once you apply for divorce or separation.

Basically, if you were married, you have 1 year from divorce to submit a claim for a property division or spousal maintenance. Divorce can only be applied for after 1 year of separation. In relation to de facto couples, the time limit is 2 years from separation. Not everyone rushes to formalise a divorce immediately after separation. Some couples stay separated for years until they can admit that it is all over or one party wishes to remarry.

There is a provision in the Family Law Act for an extension of time if the Court is satisfied that there may be some hardship suffered if an extension of time is not granted, in particular, in relation to any hardship caused to the children of the marriage. Whilst there is that opportunity to seek an extension of time, it is not guaranteed to be granted and therefore it is prudent to commence proceedings within the time limit and avoid the risk.

The time limit does not mean the proceedings must be finished by the deadline but they must be filed in the Court before that time expires. Your family lawyer will attend to this on your behalf.

You do not have to be divorced to do property settlement – technically, this could happen the day after the parties have separated.

There is no set rule on dividing property; it is a fallacy that you automatically get 50/50 split of the assets just because you were married. There are a number of complexities that determine the percentage. Even if an asset was in just one person’s name, it can be included in the asset pool for division. Each individual case has its own different circumstances and there are no two property settlements alike. It is also imperative that both parties provide full and frank disclosure to the other person when going through a separation. If you fail to disclose your assets then any Consent Order or settlement agreement that is determined may be overturned and reopened thus the courts can order costs against the non-disclosing party. That will only reignite angst and frustration to both parties.

So, it’s evident that a hand-shake alone is not sufficient to end the game, there are too many complexities and legalities to simply walk away from it all. If you are considering separating from your partner, then empower yourself with knowledge during this time and come in for a chat. We can offer a 20-minute initial consultant free of charge to you.

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