If you have recently separated from your spouse or defacto partner then you may be wondering how to go about dividing up your property.
The first step is to accurately identify the assets and liabilities belonging to either or both of the parties (the “asset pool”) at the time of the division of property, not separation. Knowing the “asset pool” is important because it provides the basis for dividing the property fairly.
The question then is what makes up the asset pool.
In most cases, it is better to include any item in which one of the parties to the relationship has an interest. An “interest” can be legal or equitable.
A legal interest is typically more obvious because it is usually documented. For example, the legal owner of a house is listed on the Certificate of Title in the first schedule.
An equitable interest, by contrast, can be harder to identify. Usually an equitable interest arises where there is some reason to consider, in fairness, that a person has an interest in something. To continue with the house example, a spouse who contributed money to the purchase of a property, but whose name is not on the title, may nevertheless have an equitable interest in it.
The important thing to remember is simply because an item is identified as being part of the asset pool does not mean it will be sold or transferred to the other party. It merely allows an accurate description of the parties’ asset pool at the relevant date.
Working out the asset pool is the first step toward negotiating a just and equitable settlement of your financial matters.
If you need assistance on a family law matter, Meredith Saayman Lawyers are only a phone call away. Call us on 1300 537 306 to book an appointment.