Who gets to keep what when the relationship ends?

It’s an overwhelming time when a relationship ends. You might be wondering what will happen to your home, your assets, and even sentimental items when you divorce your partner. However, you’ll be reassured to know that there are some broad principles regulating what happens to assets after a separation or divorce, and we’re going to break them down for you below.

Not everything’s worth fighting over


The first thing you should know is that it’s often possible to divide assets without fighting over them. Talk to your ex-partner, if possible, and identify what you can agree to give up or take. Opening up the lines of communication will make the whole separation process less stressful. It also helps you narrow down the scope of your disagreements.

When you can’t decide who gets what, here are the principles that apply.

The matrimonial pool


All assets, liabilities, and superannuation interests are pooled together in the first instance. Whether you bought the family car, or pay the mortgage, or you’re the sole earner, everything is considered a matrimonial asset at the outset.

Monetary value isn’t always worth more than sentiments–for example, heirlooms are very important to individuals. The court will consider what’s fair and reasonable in the circumstances, if the parties can’t decide between themselves.

If I bought it, do I keep it?


It depends. If you and your partner can agree that you both keep what you purchased individually, then this makes the process easier. Otherwise, all property bought during the marriage is considered matrimonial property, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get to keep it–whoever purchased it.

Is it a 50/50 split?


Not always. Why? Because the court will take many factors into consideration when deciding how to split matrimonial assets, from who’s made the most contributions, to where the children will live and which parent they’ll live with.

A 50/50 split sounds fair, but it doesn’t work in every scenario. That’s why it’s best that you seek legal advice as soon as possible following a separation, particularly if you can’t reach an agreement with your partner.

Who gets the house?


Couples can decide this between themselves or let the courts decide. For example, one party may keep the matrimonial home and the other party takes the superannuation or the car. In other cases, it might be fairer to sell the home and split the proceeds.

Every separation is unique. All that matters is that the asset division is fair and equitable based on the individual circumstances of each relationship.


What if I need more help? Can I get free legal advice?


It may be possible for you to obtain free legal advice and assistance if you can’t afford to speak with a solicitor. We recommend you seek legal advice as soon as possible following a separation, so you’re fully informed of your rights and what steps to take next.

For more information on what happens following a divorce or separation, and for further details on what happens to your assets, download our free ebook today.

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