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Family Law Property Settlements - What You Need To Know


The breakdown of a relationship of a marriage is one of the most stressful and traumatic events in a person’s life.

If you are looking to engage a lawyer to achieve a property settlement, what do you need to know?

1. What matters are relevant to how property is divided?

Four matters are relevant.

Firstly, all assets, liabilities and financial resources need to be identified to work out the “asset pool”. Some assets may need to be valued.

Secondly, you and your partner’s contributions at the start and during your relationship and after separation need to be considered including
• Financial contributions. For example, you may have owned a house at the start of a relationship.
• Non financial contributions. For example, as a homemaker, parent or carer.

Thirdly, you and your partner’s circumstances after separation and ongoing needs require examination. Factors such as
(a) Your age, health
(b) Whether you have the care of children from the relationship
(c) Your income
(d) Your future employment prospects and earning capacity as against your partner’s

Fourthly, the property division needs to be just and fair.

2. Do I need to go to Court?

No. Most property settlements can be achieved by negotiation.
Your lawyer needs to take a proactive settlement approach to avoid the time and cost of going to Court.

3. What will it cost to get a lawyer?

A lawyer must in a Cost Agreement set out an estimate of costs for the scope of work contemplated.
You are not liable for any costs until you and the lawyer reach agreement on costs.

4. What should I do when considering a family law cost agreement?

(a) Carefully read the terms of the agreement and understand them. If unsure ask for them to be explained.
(b) Ensure the law firm has given you an estimate as to how much the case will cost.
(c) Consider the estimate carefully and ask questions if you do not understand.
(d) Consider whether you need independent legal advice. Get it if you are in any way unsure about what you are getting into.

5. Do I need to pay costs upfront?

It depends on the law firm. Many law firms do require costs to be paid upfront.
At Galbally & O’Bryan we usually take on property settlement cases on a deferred cost basis. Costs are paid out of the property settlement and not before.

Galbally & O’Bryan has extensive experience in acting for clients in family law property settlements.

Our focus is on achieving just and fair settlements quickly without significant cost to you.

For further information contact Andrew O’Bryan on (03) 9200 2533 or by email