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What is the
4-step process?

From the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia uses the 4-step process to assess and determine a family law property settlement.

Step 1 | Determine and Value the Total Asset Pool

All assets and liabilities of the relationship are included, whether they be acquired before, during or after the partie shave separated. Assets include almost everything that has value, such as real estate, investment portfolios, businesses, jewellery, money in bank accounts, furniture and so forth.

Step 2 | Determine Contributions to the Asset Pool

The Courts consider each parties contribution toward the relationship in both financial and non-financial terms (including the parties' role as homemaker and parent). Initial contributions, significant gifts, inheritances and money recievied during the relationship are considered and weighted according to various factors.

Step 3 | Future Needs & Adjustments

This step looks at the age, health, income earning capacity, properties, care and support of the children and the general financial circumstances of any new relationship in relation to both parties. The Court will then consider whether any adjustments to the asset pool are necessary.

Step 4 | Just & Equitable (Fairness Test)

As a final step, the courts consider the practical effect of the proposed property settlement and make any final adjustments to ensure that the proposed split is seen to be fair and equitable in all the circumstances.

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Feel unsure about your next steps?

DG Family Law will assist you to finalise your property settlement without delay, hidden costs or complicated language. You can rest assured that we have dealt with many complicated and difficult property matters, including negotiating investment properties, loans from parents, businesses and family trusts.

Practice Areas


Do I need to include all assets and liabilities?

When considering a property settlment, you and your ex- must disclose all of your assets, liabilities and financial resources that are owned by the parties jointly or seperately from the time you were in a relationship. This is the asset pool that will be divided and may be reheard by the Court if either party omitted assets fraudulently, or by mistake.

It is important to understand that your asset pool will be determined at the time of settlement, not at the time of separation. It is important therefore that any assets and liabilities obtained or disposed of after separation, but before settlement, must be disclosed to the other side. They may need to be included in the final asset division.


Will I get a 50:50 split of the total asset pool?

There are many myths surrounding family law and what happens when a property settlement is agreed. Despite popular opinion, there is no split percentage split to divide assets after a relationship has broken down.


Each situation is unique and is based on individual circumstances. This is where the 4-step process outlined above comes in handy to assist you to determine a property settlement.

There are many factors to consider in determining a proposed division, including the length of the relationship, the initial contributions of the parties, the size of the asset pool, the income of both parties, the parenting roles assumed, any age disparities and the health status of each party


It is increasingly common for young people to borrow from the bank fo Mum and Dad to buy a car or to get a foothold in the property market. Unfortunately, it is uncommon for families to document such arrangements, which can lead to heartbreak when families break down.

What happens if the adult child separates from a spouse before monies are repaid to ones' parents? The family law courts are reluctant to admit such a loan unless there is good evidence to show that the money was loaned, interest was accruing and regular repayments were being made.

If the loan is not accepted by a Court, the money advanced may be considered a gift to the child. This will be understood to be a contribution on behalf of the spose whose parent originally contributed the funds and generally increase that parties' share of the asset pool.


What is meant by "full and frank" disclosure?

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) places a duty on both parties to a family law dispute or property proceeding to disclose to the Court and each other party information that is relevant to the case in a timely manner.

Full and frank disclosure is required for all assets, including financial resources and any assets that you may have an interest in, including a business, a family trust, a current deceased estate and any properties that you may have an interest in (including any income derived from such properties and directed to other parties), whether your name is on title or not.

You are also required to disclose any assets that have been disposed of, gifted or otherwise transferred in the year prior to final separation.


What does "just and equitable" mean?

As the fourth step of the property settlement process, the law requires that a propose division be "just and equitable". The main purpose of this provision seems to be to limit the jurisdcition of the Court to only adjust a property division if it is required in the interests of justice and equity.

What does that mean? The test is largely satisfied by the fact that the parties relationship has irretrievably broken down, where justice and equity would be upheld if a fair property settlement were to be made.

Some commentators have said that family law is more like an art than a science. Do not leave your situation to chance: get a family lawyer to assist and advise you today.


So, my Husband is actually a narcissist.

Whether you are thinking about it or in the process of it, you will need to be prepared if your partner is a narcissist.

In order to move forward, we encourage you to build a support network around you in preparation for the unpredictable, vindictive and potentially violent reaction to your desire for seperation or a divorce.

Secondly, we encourage you to consider how to protect and support your children. It is not typically the relationship breakdown itself that negatively affects children, but rather the ongoing hostility between parents that causes harm, especially when the family is isolated and without support.

Keep your cool, communicate briefly, keep good written records and ensure the support of a family lawyer to assist.

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