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Knowing when the game is over

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Nothing 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. In contrast, women have already disengaged from the relationship and mentally prepare for life after marriage, sometimes a year or two before it’s all over. We don’t need to know why it is over. We need to be sure you are aware of the game’s rules and play within those 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, you may realise it may be time to move on.

Time limits on claims

Under the Family Law Act, strict time limits apply concerning claims for property settlement or spousal maintenance once you file for a divorce or separation.

You can only seek a divorce after one year of separation. If you were married, you have one year from divorce to submit a claim for a property division or spousal maintenance. For de facto couples, the time limit is two years from separation. Not everyone rushes to formalise a divorce immediately after the breakup. Some couples stay separated for years until they can admit that it is all over or one party wishes to remarry.

The Family Law Act provides for a time extension if the court is satisfied that parties may suffer some hardship if an extension is not granted, particularly concerning any difficulty caused to the children of the marriage. Whilst there is that opportunity to seek an extension of time, there’s no guarantee the court will permit it. Therefore, it is prudent to commence proceedings within the time limit and avoid the risk.

The time limit does not mean the proceedings must finish by the deadline, but you must file them with the court before that time expires. Your family lawyer will attend to this on your behalf.

You do not have to be divorced to conduct a property settlement. Technically, this could happen the day after the parties have separated.

Who gets what?

There is no set rule on dividing property; it is a fallacy that you automatically get a 50/50 split of the assets just because you were married. Many complexities determine the percentage. Even if an asset was in just one person’s name, it could be part of the asset pool for the division. Each case has different circumstances, and no two property settlements are alike.

It is also imperative that both parties provide full and frank disclosure to the other person when going through a separation. Any Consent Order or settlement agreement is invalidated and reopened if you fail to disclose your assets. The courts can also order costs against the non-disclosing party. That will only reignite angst and frustration for both parties.

So, it’s evident that a handshake alone is not sufficient to end the game. There are too many complexities and legalities to walk away from it all. If you are considering separating from your partner, empower yourself with knowledge during this time and come in for a chat. We can set up an initial consultation.

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Shanahan Family Law, founded in 2009, focuses on delivering positive outcomes for clients by listening, caring, and tailoring services to individual needs. Let us help you find a positive outcome.

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Luke Shanahan Family Law

Luke Shanahan


Luke Shanahan is the Principal Solicitor of Shanahan Family Law. Luke has been practising family law since 2008 and started his firm in 2014. He has three beautiful daughters and a supportive, gorgeous wife. In his spare time, Luke enjoys playing tennis and trips to the beach with family and friends. 

Luke is dedicated to providing the best possible legal representation for his clients. His experience and passion for family law set him apart from other solicitors. You only have to read their 5-star reviews to understand that.

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