In this case, it is very important to speak to your closest family law lawyers in Sydney, especially where there is likely to be a reasonably large estate to divide.
These are the 3 most common causes for dispute during the divorce and settlement process:
1. The Property Settlement
There is no clear formula for calculating how property should be divided, and unless the divorcing couple can agree on their own settlement the whole process can become hideously complicated.
Lawyers will have a better understanding of the whole process, and will help to explain how the assets will be divided – as well as knowing that, it doesn’t matter if the divorce is the fault of one spouse and that the settlement is designed to divide property, not punish someone for poor behaviour.
One thing that people rarely understand is that there is no effort made to have a settlement simply split the estate 50/50. If that’s what you and your former spouse agree to, good for you, but the formula for the division of assets does not even assume that half each will be the starting point. The law simply says that the division must be “fair and equitable” – which is almost never half each.
Once the actual value of the property has been established, which can be difficult if one spouse tries to hide some of their assets, the division has to be negotiated.
Goodwill understand how a judge is likely to divide the overall estate, and will help you to come to a reasonable arrangement before the matter reaches a courtroom and costs you both a huge amount in legal fees.
Many people do not understand that numerous factors go into working out the contributions made by each spouse. Apart from the assets each person brought into the marriage, contributions made during the matrimonial period need to be accounted for as well.
These contributions are not purely monetary, either – child care, housekeeping and other activities that allow one spouse to work more and earn more are viewed as being equally significant as earning more money.
In addition, the future needs of each spouse need to be taken into account. If one partner has a significantly higher earning potential, they will most likely get less in the asset distribution. The spouse with primary custody over any children will also get more because of the costs of raising them.
Custody arrangements are another hugely common area of disagreement. Something that most people do not understand, and what people who already have tempers running high because of the divorce almost never understand, is that when it comes to custody the law doesn’t care what’s fair to the parents.
If the separating couple can’t come to a custody arrangement on their own, the court will decide in the best interests of the child. The interests of the parents will not be at all relevant to the decision – the court will simply decide what arrangement is likely to be the easiest and healthiest for the child.
This usually means that both parents will spend significant time with their children, as it is usually considered in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with both parents (except in cases where one parent is abusive or their presence in the child’s life is harmful in some other way).
If one parent has to move away from Sydney, however, the custody arrangements may need to designate one parent as sole custodian. In this case, it will usually be whichever parent will have more time to spend with the child, or whoever the primary caregiver was during the marriage.
Custody can be divided by either a parenting plan or a consent order. A consent order will be lodged with the court by your family law lawyers in Sydney, and it is legally binding (which means it is both enforceable and difficult to change). A parenting plan is an agreement between the parents, and is not enforceable – it is however more flexible.
3. Spousal Maintenance
In a case where one spouse will be unable to support themselves and the other spouse has plenty of money, there may be provisions made for spousal maintenance payments. Again, the law is not concerned with why the divorce happened or why someone might not be able to support them self – if one spouse is significantly better off than the other, there is scope for spousal maintenance.
These 3 aspects of the divorce are the most likely to result in disagreement between the former spouses over what is fair. Quality family law lawyers in Sydney will keep you out of the courtroom, which will increase your control over the division of assets and custody, as well as saving you a lot of money in legal fees.