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Help needed in property settlement!

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Hi all. My ex and I divorced last year after 4 years of marriage.

I basically left the house with my dodgy old car ($500 worth!), my laptop and my clothes. Everything else remained with her, including the $11,000 car!She stayed in the house and agreed to pay the mortgage. The mortgage and the deed are in joint names.

I moved into a rental and pay just less than the mortgage payment is!

When I left, she had 3 credit cards in her name only, with a total debt of about $23,000. At the time, I agreed to give her some money toward them. After 12 months of almost going bankrupt, paying my own rent and bills, and also paying $4,000 to the cards, I told her that I could no longer afford to pay toward them.

Now she has sent me a letter, wanting me to agree to sign the house over to her (by a consent order), but also wanting me take over half of the credit card debt.

My point is, that as I contributed toward the marriage, including paying $12000 worth of bills inc the cards in the 14 months prior to separation, surely I should have some rights to something from the property?! It doesnt seem fair that she has everything, yet still wants me to take on the credit card debts!! Any help would be great
First a question. Are any children involved (that often leads to a a greater proportion going to the person who has the children).

Otherwise you have every right to a portion of the assets. You need to start of by compiling a list of the assets and liabilities and their values (current value I think), also all payments that you've made on her behalf since the separation. Roughly speaking you'd subtract the liabilities from the assets and split this (say 50% although this percentage very often changes in court) then add the amount for the payments that you made on her behalf since separation. This would likely be a positive figure and it is what you should expect in order to proceed with signing everything over.

This is a very simplistic overview and some assets are not at all easy to determine e.g. superannuation. Also as the marriage failed in a relatively short time I think what was brought into the marriage would also be considered.

As for the card debts if it's her expenditure since separation then I think you should insist on not contributing toward that.

You say you are divorced, do you mean separated? I think if you're actually divorced then it may change matters (e.g. I believe you normally only have 12 months after the divorce to settle on property matters)

Hopefully an SRL (their avatar shows them as being an SRL) will provide input, they are vastly more knowledgeable than myself.

Thanks for the reply. No there are no kids involved. We have been divorced since October last year. The cards she has had since early in the marriage.
There is probably about $70000 equity in the house. What is interesting though, is that we bought in specifically because the area is in a rezoning area, that will soon be rezoned to a 4 duplex block. The value will then skyrocket!!
First of all a marriage of less than five year is regarded as a short marriage.
When the marriage is short in duration then what the parties have at the time of co-habitation is less affected than in a marriage of longer duration.
With no children then s75(2) of the Family Law of Australia does not come into play, unless there are health and age aspects.
The best outcome is a negotiated one. There is little in your pool of assets and the likelihood of the solicitors getting the lot is alive. Section 79(4) and the associated sub-paragraphs are the relevant parts of the Family Law Act 1975 that relate to variation of property.

Identify what was held by both parties at co-habitation is the first step. Identifying who contributed during co-habitation is the next step. Contributions can be both direct and indirect. Indirect is for example any unpaid work you may have done on a property, or, any assistance afforded to enhance the earning capacity of the other party.

The best strategy is ensure you have as much of the documentation you can get hold of. Failing that write as complete as possible list of all financial events and respective dates. Ensuring that you have a complete set of bank statements for joint accounts and both parties from just prior to any collective financial dealings is a good move. Also any documentation in respect of the property purchase and the source of funds.

A detailed schedule of the payments you made in respect of the credit cards is a must. Is it right to assume that the $23,000 debt is from joint co-habitation, or, has her debt increase since separation. Any information about the credit cards, and what items were purchased using them is to be guarded. It is a directive of the Family Courts (Family Court of Australia & Federal Magistrates Court - Family Law Division) in all cases that full and frank disclosure is required. At all times keep original documents and provide copies to the other side.

MikeT's comments in the main are correct. With the information you have provided the terms you have been offered do not appear reasonable. Superannuation before and at separation are important values. Is the letter from a solicitor?

You can consider putting a caveat on the property if you have concerns about her selling it without giving you notice. The trump card you hold appears to be your name on the property title. Signing that over is the last thing you do. There should be a property valuation done on the property.

The parties enter into a Financial Agreement and another document that protects the assets of the parties if death occur rs to either party.

But a good strategy is to not over-react. Make each move judiciously, confirming your actions before setting off in an emotive mode. Continue to suggest that you would like to negotiate but as you currently understand the offer, it is neither fair, reasonable or just. As you have described the facts they appear a little unsubstantial to give you definitive comments to consider. But with $70,000 in the property and $23,000 on the credit card her side of the balance sheet looks overly weighted.

Consider representing yourself initially and should it enter into the court system then reconsider if you need to be represented. In general terms your matter does not appear complex. But until all the facts are known that is an assumption. The majority of separations are negotiated. The court cases are often a consequence of egocentrics who are unable to communicate. If couples could communicate there would be no need of courts to resolve issues. It is important to keep all your receipts as the financial union is not severed until either the signing of a Financial Agreement or a Court Judgement.  Be very cautious what you write in documents sworn and filed in the Family Court. These documents carry weight in proceedings such that a poorly worded affidavit, Financial Statement, or an Application or Response to an Application for Final Orders can give cause to later concerns. Many documents filed in the court go unread.

Come back again if you feel you have a need of sharing our experiences. Ensure you are properly registered on the site so that anything you write is in the secure areas and is not available to the other party. It is unwise to advise an adversary about this site.

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
hi. Thanks for the above advice. The letter from her was not done by a solicitor. I replied asking for copies of the credit card statements, as i am sure the debt was not that high when i left. Everything purchased on the cards is in her possession, except my laptop. I suggested to her that we agree to hold onto the house until it is rezoned later this year, as the price will go up. I then agreed to pay the credit cards out of any profit. Remaining profit would be split between us. No reply as yet! Thanks so much for your help. Any other advice would be welcome.
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