Creevey Russell Lawyers’ Leith Sinclair said there’s a perception rife within family law that assets are distributed equally in the event of a break-up, however noted that this couldn’t be further from the truth in many cases.
Ms Sinclair said while people often believe at the end of a relationship, the pool of assets, liabilities and financial resources is divided equally by the court, the outcome of family law court settlements is prone to “swings and roundabouts”.
“Often, at the end of a long relationship, the court will make an order where each party gets an equal share,” Ms Sinclair said.
“But this decision is not the starting point: instead, it is the result of a particular approach and analysis carried out by the court, taking into consideration various factors.
“Every outcome is different, just like every relationship is different.”
Ms Sinclair said there are many factors that often see the court decide one party should get more than the other party.
This includes if one party has the majority care of the children of the relationship; if there is no, or little, likelihood of the children’s expenses being shared; and if one party can prove they have health issues that impact on their employment prospects.
She added that the court can also rule in favour of one party if one party earns a lot more than the other party; if one party brought into the relationship most of the value of assets at the start of the relationship; and/or if one party, during the relationship, received an inheritance, or won money, or otherwise enjoyed a windfall.
“The effect of the presence of a factor like those listed is rarely significant,” Ms Sinclair said.
“Sometimes, it can result in a humble adjustment of around 1-2 per cent extra. Rarely will it be more than 10 per cent extra.
“Often, any adjustment for one party might [be] adjusted back because of a similar adjustment for the other party, like swings and roundabouts.”