Can My Ex Partner Claim Money After a Divorce?
After a divorce, if a financial settlement has not been reached, there is the chance that your ex-partner will make a claim on the assets.
After a couple divorces or ends their de facto relationship, both parties will often either reach an agreement for a property settlement, or will have had the courts do so. A property settlement aims to divide the property of the parties as equally as possible in the given circumstances. This involves taking into account the financial contributions and non-financial contributions of both parties, as well as the future needs of both individuals.
After a property settlement has been agreed upon it can be difficult for one party to obtain more assets from another. This is because it is difficult to change a property settlement once it has been made. There are only limited circumstances in which a property settlement may be overturned and these will be outlined below.
“Full and frank disclosure”
In undertaking a property settlement it is required that each separating party give their full and frank disclosure about their financial resources and circumstances. Without full financial disclosure it will be difficult for you to ensure that the agreement you are entering is fair and appropriate. This is especially important considering that a property settlement is difficult to change once it has been made into consent orders by the Court, or has been written and agreed to in a binding financial agreement.
Thus, without the full and frank disclosure of your former partner, it will most likely be best to not enter into a property settlement. In these cases it may be best to obtain legal advice.
Information needed for a property settlement
As noted above, it is extremely difficult to change a property settlement and so it is important to ensure that the process of coming to an agreement is done properly. This can be done by ensuring that the most current information is given by both parties about their assets. A Family Court may take into consideration the value of certain assets and liabilities at the time of separation but can also consider the value of such property at the time of the Court case, and so current information is essential.
Other details that must be disclosed include:
- Details of employment (including income and any other benefits)
- Any other financial resources you may own
- Any interest in property or other companies
- Information about any assets that have been sold (between a period of 12 months before and after your separation)
- Any other liabilities you may owe
If your former partner refuses to give full and frank disclosure of their financial circumstances, you may be able to commence proceedings in the Federal Magistrates Court or the Family Court of Australia. Family Courts can also help by issuing subpoenas to any relevant body such as a bank or an employer in order to ensure that the financial circumstances of your former spouse are known. Penalties can also be given for non-disclosure and may involve a requirement to pay for legal costs involved in finding relevant information to the case.
It is important to note that a Court may require even more detailed information in certain cases. This is because there is no formalised method for dividing assets in a property settlement and each outcome is tailored to the particular circumstances of a case.
Reasons why a property settlement could be changed
A binding financial agreement is difficult to change, though there are a number of reasons why the Court may still choose to set it aside. Some reasons include:
- A lack of information given
- The presence of fraud and misrepresentation
- Pressure or influence exerted on one partner by the other
- Changes in the circumstances of the children involved
What if I have not formally recorded my property settlement agreement?
If you and your former partner have not made a formal agreement regarding the division of assets, it may be easier for your former partner to make a further claim to your property. The Family Law Act specifies a time limit that stops parties bringing claims for the division of property following a relationship breakdown. However, this also does not guarantee that further property claims will not be made, as exceptions can be used to ensure that a claim can still be brought. These exceptions can relate to a range of issues including spousal maintenance or financial hardship experienced by one partner.
Thus, in order to ensure that further claims on your property are limited, it will most likely be in your interest to formalise any property settlement agreement made. This will mean that the agreement is legally binding on both parties and will make it difficult for any party to make further claims or alter any details.
If you are the one who would like to change the property settlement and are attempting to claim more assets after separation, you will be required to explain the reason for the delay to the Court.
If you need any assistance regarding issues of property settlement after a divorce, feel free to reach us via the contact form.
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