Property Settlements

Spouses “Cash In” On Informal Divorce Agreements

TGB partner Wendy Barry says spouses are going back for a “second bite” at their former partner’s assets, because their divorce settlements were not finalised by the Family Court.

TGB partner Wendy Barry says spouses are going back for a “second bite” at their former partner’s assets, because their divorce settlements were not finalised by the Family Court. 

Ms Barry said it is becoming increasingly common for separating couples to come to an informal settlement agreement, only for it to be challenged years later.

“Even if there is a contract signed by both parties, without a final and binding order from the Court the door is left open for either party to make a claim for a bigger piece of the pie in the future,” Ms Barry said.

“This is a big issue for our clients because many simply weren’t aware that their agreement, which they thought was ‘rock solid’, could be disputed in Court.”

The Family Court adopts a four step approach to determine the terms of the settlement; calculating the asset pool, who contributed what, the future needs of the parties and whether the outcome is just and reasonable, irrespective of the original agreement.

“It means that many people are forced to share their wealth twice; once at the time of the original agreement and again if the Court agrees with the challenger,” Ms Barry said.

“This is why we urge all separating couples to have their settlements finalised by the Court from the outset, and protect themselves from any future claims.”

TGB is South Australia’s largest family law firm. For advice about your divorce or family law matter contact your nearest TGB office.