The great Kanye West once sang something to the effect of “When she leaves you, she’s going to leave with half”. While that’s a very catchy lyric, it’s not the legal reality for a lot of property settlements in Australia today.
The way that property will be split between the parties to a relationship when they’re separating is based on a wide variety of factors, including things like:
- How long you have been together
- What your contributions were at the beginning of, and throughout, the relationship
- The income you are each earning
- If there are any children remaining under the age of 18
- How old those children are, and who will have primary care of them moving forward
So, for example, you have a short-term relationship where there are no children, and one party made significant financial contributions at the beginning of the relationship (for example, they owned the house the couple lived in during the relationship). Each party kept quite separate finances during the relationship, and the one that owned the house was the only one paying the mortgage, they’re more likely to walk away with a more significant chunk of the asset pool as separation.
However, if you have a long-term relationship, say 20+ years, where the couple was young and didn’t have many assets when they were together, both have worked throughout the relationship, with one working a little more while the other took periods off work to take care of the children, it’s more likely that their overall contributions will be assessed as equal so that they may well settle with a 50/50 division of the assets.
Adjustments are regularly afforded to one party over the therefor example, where there is a significant difference in their income earning ability moving forward. This might be because one person cares for the children the majority of the time, which limits their ability to work, or because one person has an illness or injury that prevents them from working.
So although there may be some general rules of thumb, every property settlement is as unique as the people involved in the settlement itself.