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Splitting or Dividing Assets After Separation

Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
Melbourne: (03) 9620 2777
Brisbane: (07) 3229 4448
Canberra: (02) 6288 1100

When a relationship hits difficult times and separation is contemplated it is natural for people to consider what they are likely to receive financially after separation?

Following a separation the law looks to ask a few questions in order to determine how assets are divided. In all property settlements there is a four step process which is followed.


To determine the asset pool of the parties a brief balance sheet needs to be proposed setting out their assets, liabilities and superannuation. An example of such a balance sheet may look like this:

Assets Value
Home $
Husband’s Motor Vehicle $
Wife’s Motor Vehicle $
Cash in Bank $
Household Contents $
Husband’s Superannuation $
Wife’s Superannuation $
Mortgage $
Husband’s Credit Card $
Wife’s Credit Card $
TOTAL of Net Asset Pool (including superannuation) $


To determine what each of the parties contributed, the law would need to know what assets and liabilities each came into the relationship with and what money each provided during the relationship. That may be through work, running a business, money received from family or even a compensation payment.

The Court will also want to know what non-financial contributions were made. These can include contributions as a parent or homemaker.

After assessing both the financial and non-financial contributions the law would determine the party's overall level of contributions on a percentage basis.

Types of contributions:


The Court can make an adjustment to the contribution percentage by having regard to the future needs that each person might have. Future needs can cover a whole host of factors for which both of the people in the relationship may be facing in unequal proportions. Some examples may be where care of children is not equal, where one person or the children have ongoing health issues that will need to be paid for, where there is likely to be a disparity in income in the future or where there is a significant age difference.

After considering the future needs, an adjustment may be made to the contribution percentage to account for those needs. That adjusted percentage is then applied to the net asset pool to determine the split or division as a dollar figure from the net asset pool.


The final step in a property settlement is to reality test the result to see if it is a just and equitable. The result may seem appropriate in dollar terms, but the practical effect may not be a fair result. If the result of the property settlement is just and equitable then the process is concluded. If the result is not just and equitable it may result in a further adjustment to the outcome a just and equitable result can be achieved. Some examples where further adjustment is needed may be where the majority of funds that would be held by one of the people was superannuation and those funds were not available immediately, where someone would be required to sell a business or part of a business in order to make the payment required by the property settlement and by doing so would jeopardise that person's income.

Once the dollar amount that each person is to receive is known, that dollar amount needs to be converted back into assets that each of you will keep. This involves listing the assets each of you will retain and deducting the liabilities that will be retained to determine if a payment is required to reach the appropriate final result.

For example, if a wife was to keep the marital home it may mean that the assets which fall to her at the conclusion of the property settlement may be greater than her entitlement that has been calculated. In these circumstances a cash payment is required to be made to readjust the result back to the outcome that has been determined.

It is essential that you disclose all of your assets and liabilities to ensure that proceedings are fair. If you hide or do not advise us of your assets you may be found in contempt of court.

where to next?

Taking the next step and contacting a family lawyer can be scary. Our lawyers will make you feel comfortable so you can talk about your situation. But first, ask yourself, Do I really need a lawyer?

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
Melbourne: (03) 9620 2777
Brisbane: (07) 3229 4448
Canberra: (02) 6288 1100

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