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Property Settlements - Why you need to act immediately...

A recent court case demonstrates the importance of finalising property matters following separation. In this case the wife was entitled to 50% of the family home, 30 years after separation.

The wife, aged 83, and the husband, aged 91, had been married for 32 years, though separated for the past 30 years and not yet entered into a property settlement. The wife sought a share of the proceeds of the family home which the husband was occupying, but which needed to be sold to pay for his aged care accommodation. The home was solely in the husband’s name and was his major asset, whereas the wife’s major asset was a property of her own.

The husband contended that it was not just and equitable for property settlement orders to be made due to the time that had passed since separation. However, his Honour Judge Terry rejected that contention, noting that during 32 years of marriage the parties had worked together to acquire, conserve and improve the family home.

The court considered the contributions that the wife had made to the marriage and to the family home, which included:

1. Assisting the husband with the construction of a garage and the family home;

2. Contributions as a wage earner to the parties’ finances during the last 22 years of marriage;

3. General parent and home duties; and

4. Following separation, cleaning and mowing of the property.

On the basis of the above contributions, the court found the wife to be entitled to 50% of the family home, along with 100% of her own assets including her property and cash at bank.

If you have separated and have not yet entered into a property settlement with your former spouse you should sooner rather than later act to protect you interests.

“In preparing in this article we have not taken into account any particular persons objectives, financial situation or needs. Investors should, before acting on this information, consider the appropriateness of this information having regard to their personal objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend investors obtain financial advice specific to their situation before making any financial investment or insurance decision.”

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