Initial and Post-Separation Contributions – Divorce Lawyers in Melbourne

Divorce Lawyers in Melbourne

Divorce Lawyers located in Melbourne

When separating from your partner, the division of your shared assets is an important step before you can move forward. As the most trusted divorce lawyers in Melbourne, we specialize in Australia’s Family Law and legal system.

One key asset to be considered in divorce proceedings is property. Determining a fair property settlement involves assessing the initial contributions made by each spouse during the marriage. Our highly skilled divorce lawyers in Melbourne are available to provide legal assistance and guidance for you today.

When looking at property, the court will take into account several factors to determine each parties’ initial contributions. These include the monetary value, the percentage the monetary value represents, the length of the relationship and whether the other spouse has made contributions.

It also considers non-financial contributions such as child-care and household management, so that all parties are fairly represented.

Put simply, the Court will look at the five-step rule when determining a property settlement:

  • Step 1: Identify the assets for the division
  • Step 2: Just and equitable outcome
  • Step 3: Identify and assess the respective contributions
  • Step 4: Assess the future needs of each party
  • Step 5: Review whether the proposed division is just and equitable.

Although you can come to an agreement with your former spouse, it is recommended that the agreement is documented and formalised by a Binding Financial Agreement. This can prevent someone from making a future claim that wasn’t in the agreement.

Are contributions made post-separation still considered?

‘Post-separation contributions’ refer to contributions made from the date of separation until the matter is finalised. Timing is the primary factor when assessing the value of a contribution made to the relationship after a separation. If a dispute takes a significant time to resolve after separation, contributions made during that time can become an issue. The type of asset is also an important consideration, and the way in which the asset was obtained. For example whether an asset was purchased post separation using independent means or from the combined asset pool eg. joint savings. In spite of how the assets are treated by the Court, both parties have an obligation to identify all property in existence at the time of final hearing or final settlement of the matter, and its value at that point in time – regardless of whether it was acquired pre or post-separation. Where the contribution is not a physical asset, for example, contributing to a mortgage of a jointly owned asset, or where there are children under the age of 18 and the parties continue to care for the children,  then the post-separation contributions are treated in the same way as contributions made during the relationship.
As the preferred divorce lawyers in Melbourne, Advocate Family Lawyers can answer questions and provide advice about initial and post separation contributions and how they impact your property settlement. Your initial consultation is free, and you can request an appointment by completing the form below.

What are post-separation contributions?

Contributions made by a party to the relationship from the date of separation until the matter is finalised are post-separation contributions. Timing is very important when assessing the value of a contribution made to the relationship after a separation. For example, if a property dispute is resolved efficiently after a separation, the mater of post separation contributions is unlikely to be an issue. However if parties are unable to resolve their differences post separation and a significant amount of time passes, contributions made during that time can become an issue.

What are contributions during a relationship?

Contributions are what each party brings in, adds, or contributes to the relationship. These can be both financial and non-financial in nature. Additionally, they could include work done in a parenting capacity, or contributing to the welfare of the family as a home-maker.

Contributions during a relationship are considered to be any contribution made during the period of cohabitation (living together). The length of a relationship is also likely to affect the weight given to these contributions.

What are contributions during a relationship?

Initial contributions are any contributions (both financial and non-financial) that were made by either one of the parties at the start of the relationship. These financial and non-financial contributions at the time of commencement of the relationship can be made directly or indirectly.

During a property settlement it is important to not only identify who contributed which asset but also determine the nature of the asset, and the effect the asset had on further contributions during the relationship. For example if a spouse contributes a home at the start of the long-term relationship. At the end of the relationship the house may be worth a far larger amount. In that regard greater weight will be attributed to the initial contribution because it provided significant benefit during the relationship as the property appreciated in value and provide a residence for the couple.

In shorter relationships, each spouse’s initial contributions are of particular importance in terms of the final division of property. It is typically easier to identify the original owner of an asset, and there are usually fewer jointly acquired assets.

Courts will take a different approach in longer relationships, based on the assumption that after a period of time a couple’s assets have merged. As such, initial contributions are assessed against the totality of contributions made throughout the relationship including home duties.

Not sure where to start?

Book a free initial 30 minute consultation and I will guide you to the next steps.